Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jessica Verdi: Her Life With B & N Bestseller MY LIFE AFTER NOW

Jessica Verdi joins us today to talk about her e-pub success with her book, My Life After Now. On July 27th, it hit the number 10 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store. This book has had come fantastic reviews so I'm pleased that we get to hear all about it. 

First, let's find out what My Life After Now is about.

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Lucy Just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much -- she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of. And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family? Now, every moment is a precious gift. She never thought being positive could be so negative. But now, everything's different... because now she's living with HIV. 

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

I have always loved books, but I didn't seriously consider a career as an author until about five years ago, when I got an idea for my first (unpublished) novel. From there, I went on to get my MFA in Creative Writing (concentration in Writing for Children) at The New School. That was a major step along my road to publication. Before I started my MFA program, I really had no idea how the publishing business worked. But I met people, made connections, learned a ton, immersed myself in the YA and MG genres, and by the time I was ready to start querying agents, I felt like I knew what I was getting into. I was lucky enough to land an amazing agent (Kate McKean at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency), and we worked together to revise the manuscript before sending it out to editors.

My Life After Now found its home at Sourcebooks, which is a midsize independent publisher. From my point of view, their acquisition and publication process is pretty much identical to the way the "Big Six" publishers operate, with one notable exception -- because of their size, the Sourcebooks team is able to offer more personalized attention to their authors, which is a huge benefit, of course! 

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs?

My target audience is teen readers, ages 13 and up. I write about real life issues, and I know there are lots of teens out there who find comfort in reading about characters who are facing similar problems to their own, and getting that reassurance that they're not alone in whatever they might be going through. Sometimes those issues are very private and personal, and sometimes teens might not be ready to share what they're experiencing with the world. So eBooks are perfect, because teens now have total access to any and all books they may be interested in -- regardless of whether their school has "banned" the books or their local library doesn't carry them. eBooks are for everyone, in all parts of the world. Plus when you're reading an eBook in public, no one can see the cover, so it can be a much more private experience than reading a hard copy of a book. 

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

Absolutely -- one of the most pleasant surprises has been the appearance of My Life After Now on several eBook bestseller lists! Before I was published, I never really thought about how a book in eBook format is able to reach further than a print book might. Readers who buy and read books on their Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other eReaders are generally pretty tech savvy -- so they're online a lot, with their fingers constantly on the pulse of what's new, what's hot, and what's on sale. Then, when they do see a book they're interested in, they are able to read it instantly, and recommend it to their friends (or review it online) just as instantly, which gets the word-of-mouth buzz about a book going much faster than the print route. I believe it's the combination of the online buzz, the eBook sale price, the accessibility of "what books are trending now" lists, and word-of-mouth recommendations that have brought My Life After Now to its eBook bestseller spot. 

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

Yes! My Life After Now was released simultaneously by Sourcebooks in trade paperback and eBook formats. I'm super glad it's available in both print and eBook form, as that's the best way to reach a wide array of readers, regardless of their format preference.

What advantages of e-publishing do you think are most relevant to the children’s literature market?

Kids today are super tech savvy. I often see two-year-olds working an iPad like total pros. They're so intuitive about this stuff, and because they are growing up in a technology-submersed world, I think they'll probably gravitate toward eReaders more quickly than those of us who didn't grow up with cell phones, the Internet, iPods, etc. So I have a feeling the children's book ePublishing market is going to grow exponentially as kids become more and more technologically advanced. Plus it's sometimes really difficult for parents and childcare providers to keep up with kids' short attention spans, and so the easy accessibility of the world's library on an eReader helps keep kids not only entertained, but learning something new every day.
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Find out more about Jessica and her books at her website & blog, or by following her on Facebook or Twitter.

To read more fascinating interviews, click on the Author Index tab. You'll find a fairly up to date list of over a hundred authors who have been guests on this blog. And of course, keep an eye on the Kids' EBook Bestseller List, updated every Saturday morning with the top tens in the top stores.