Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Farwalker's Quest: Climbed to #3 on Kindle

On January 26th, The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel was a Kids' EBook Besteller. It reached the number 3 spot in the Children's & YA section of the Amazon Kindle storeThis award winning book is the first in the Farwalker Trilogy. Joni joins us today to share the story behind her book and its e-pub success. 

Let's start with hearing what The Farwalker's Quest is about.

Twelve-year-old Ariel lives in a decaying world that's never recovered from a devastating war. When she and her friend Zeke stumble on a mysterious object left over from a high-tech world that has passed, they're swept on a dangerous journey with only a kidnapper and a ghost as their guides. Ariel has to rely on hidden instincts to solve a dangerous riddle, reveal a legendary treasure that can help her world heal — and discover the truth about her own skills and fate. The Farwalker's Quest was named a Bank Street Best Book and a Cybils Award Finalist.

Tell us about your path to publication: Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past?

It's a twisty path that continues to involve both traditional and independent publishing. To make a long story short, I started a small press and self-published two hardbound, environmentally themed picture books more than a decade ago. Those books did well, including winning a national award, but they helped me realize I'd rather write than publish. So I went on to have four novels traditionally published, including THE FARWALKER'S QUEST. Although the last two of those books were part of a trilogy, my publisher wanted to stop there. So I published the third book of Ariel's story, THE SKELETON'S KNIFE, myself. That brought me full circle, although things have changed immensely since my first go at what's now being called indie publishing.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Was it your idea or your publisher’s? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?

My traditional publishers have taken the lead in e-publishing my novels, but I've been excited to see them do that. I think it's great to make stories as available on as many platforms as readers want to use, and why would we want to skip one that's so easy to do? I'm all for experimenting, anyway.

Since the situation is completely different with the third book of my trilogy, I think I'm getting the full spectrum of the e-publishing experience, ha! I really appreciate the opportunity to finish that project and make that book available to readers — with editing and cover support, which I hired, but with full control over the final product, which is both challenging and satisfying. Since my reasons for e-publishing that book had little to do with sales and more to do with closure and being able to wrap the story up for readers, my expectations were minimal. As a result, sales have exceeded my expectations rather considerably, which has been fun. I'm likely to try it again in the future.

As you got into e-publishing, have you discovered unexpected things? Has anything happened that you wouldn’t have predicted?

 My books have sold more e-version copies than I would have guessed, given that my audience is middle-grade readers, and they're generally not as likely to own an e-reading device as older teens or adults. I suspect my titles may be selling mostly to adults in that form, but I have no way to know — and reviews online seem to indicate that some of those e-readers are kids. Which is pretty fun. I'm sure the numbers of kids with e-readers will grow every year. And it certainly doesn't matter to me how people read my work; I'm happy to have readers of any age. If somebody wants to code THE FARWALKER'S QUEST into a telling dart (something found in that story), fine. ;-)

Is your book available in print format? Which came first and why?

Yes, all my novels are available in print, and since most of them are traditionally printed, print came first in every case except for my fifth novel, which was published simultaneously as a print-on-demand and e-title.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How? 

The e-format is new, and like most new things, it's going to have some growing pains. And the book industry as a whole is undergoing pretty major changes. I do have concerns about the continued ability of authors to be compensated for the zillions of hours we spend on our books, as well as the ability of readers to find quality books they'll enjoy in the increasing volume of choices that the e-format helps to make possible. But generally, I think new formats only help to bring stories to more people, in more places, and at more times.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers, specifically children and/or young adults? How?

I'll leave the debate to experts. That said, I think the possibilities in school and other educational settings are pretty exciting. And just as I'd personally take an e-reader on vacation, for instance, the technology seems like a great fit for the backseat of the family car—a lot easier than loading up the footwells with books!

Get to know more about Joni and her books at her website or by following her on Facebook.

See today's updated Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more top ten authors in electronic format.