Today's featured author is Gwendolyn Heasley. Her book WHERE I BELONG first showed up on the Kids' EBook Bestseller List on May 18th, when it hit the number 4 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store. The next week, on May 25th, it climbed another notch to number 3. WHERE I BELONG is her first novel, making her success even more impressive!. Read on to find out all about Gwendolyn and her path to the top ten.
First let's hear about your story. What is WHERE I BELONG about?
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Tell us briefly about your path to publication: Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past?
Traditional. I wrote Where I Belong in the midst of the recession. It was published in January of 2011.
What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?
Where I Belong is set against the backdrop of the recession and I think we’re all still grappling with how the recession changed and continues to change the way we live—and think. Because of this, I think readers—especially teens—are looking for narratives that grapple with it. Plus, Corrinne might be initially a bit unlikeable, but she’s funny and real, which I think readers love.
How are people finding out about your book? Tell us about your marketing and use of social media.
I’ve been lucky that Amazon and Barnes & Noble have put my book on my promotion. I think that’s definitely helped draw crowds. But I also try to use Twitter and Facebook to promote. I also visit schools and bookstores too! I think in-person marketing is still necessary. Most importantly, I respond to all fan mail immediately. I write for my readers and it’s important that I care for them first.
What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs?
My novel is YA although I know plenty of adults have read it as well. I think teens like the instant access of e-books and e-readers. I also think e-book pricing is more reasonable for teens, especially when e-books go on promotion. (Where I Belong is currently $1.99 for a few more days.)
What were your initial thoughts about e publishing? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?
Before Where I Belong was published, I had never used an e-reader. I wasn’t against them, but I was stuck in my old habits. Now, I read almost exclusively on my iPad. I was initially excited that Where I Belong was available as an e-book, however, three years later, I feel even more strongly about the future and importance of e-books. Where I Belong has sold very strongly in the electronic format and I’m very appreciative of that fact.
And how great is it to be able to access a new book with the touch of your fingers? E-books are as easy (although more expensive) than turning on the TV.
Is your book available in print format? Which came first and why?
Where I Belong was released in print and electronic at the same time. The sequel to Where I Belong, however, will be released only as an e-book. It will published by HarperTeen’s new digital only line! Kind of neat huh? It shows how e-books are becoming more and more important.
Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing? How do you see the world of e-publishing for children within the next 5 years?
I think there will always be a need for print books. Some people like collecting physical books and I think it’s important that libraries always have print books. (Not everyone can afford e-readers, no matter how cheap they get.) Plus, some people just like print better. I do think that e-books will keep becoming more and more popular, especially because of their pricing. In the next 5 years, I think more e-books will be sold than regular books. I also think more and more books will have prequels or sequels that are available exclusively as e-books.
Do you think the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?
On one hand, there are so many e-books to choose from, especially with the continued popularity and rise in self-publishing. Sometimes, I think it feels like overload. It’s almost harder to get your e-book noticed than your traditional print book. But overall, I’m very happy that my book is available as an e-book and believe e-books can only help me. (I’m also pro-self publishing. While I believe I will always continue to be traditionally published as long as a publisher will have me, I see nothing wrong with people putting their art into the world to share. I think it’s wonderful.)
Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers, specifically children and/or young adults? How?
I think it helps them. Teens spend so much time online and they expect everything to happen quickly. Most teens probably don’t have the time (or want to spend the time) to go to a bookstore or a library. I think e-books encourage reading for tech savvy teens and that’s great. I wish I had e-books as a teen!
What advantages of e-publishing do you think are most relevant to the children’s literature market?
I think it’s cost effective and time effective. I think those are both two great things that readers are looking for!
Find out more about Gwendolyn Heasley and her books at her website and blog or by following her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
And check the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more summertime (or anytime) reading.