Saturday, September 21, 2013

BORN TO FIGHT: Born to Be a Kindle Best Seller!

Today's featured author is Tara Brown, bestselling author of Paranormal Romance, Post Apocalyptic, Contemporary, Romance, and Fantasy novels. Last Saturday, her book Born To Fight hit the number 4 spot in the Children's and Teen section of Amazon's Kindle store. It is Tara's second book in The Born Trilogy. (Please be aware that this is a New Adult book with a mature content warning.)

Tara very generously answered ALL of my questions, so we get to hear the full story about her interesting path to e-pub success!

In a few sentences, tell us what your book is about.

Born is about a girl who has been alone in a dangerous world for a decade. She has a pet wolf and a bad attitude and almost no conscience. She is suddenly joined, or invaded, by a family who work their way into her heart and her life. Of course, just as she has something to lose, the fight for her life begins. 

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

My path to publication was more like accidentally falling off a cliff and landing on a path and then staggering down it blindly. I randomly published a few books after reading some indie books and thinking there was almost no editing or formating or anything done to them. I thought, jeesh, I can do that. I was wrong... The few books I had read were under fire for not having proper editing and formatting. By the time I figured it out I had six books published and was desperately trying to catch up and make them better, all while still publishing the books I had coming out. It took us a while to get it all figured out. I went indie from the start, only ever entering contests to have a critique by a small publishing house. The whole thing blew up last spring. I went from hardly selling to best selling. So now I am thinking I may look into a house, I know I need an agent but I'm so busy that trying to write to them is not a priority compared to the next book. One day I imagine I will be traditionally published. 

What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now? 

Luck, is that a factor? I think I have very visual storytelling so that appeals to a large market. I also have very loyal fans and I have to say, they do all the work for me. 

How are people finding out about your book? Tell us about your marketing and use of social media. 

I believe it is word of mouth as I do almost no PR or media work. 

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

Readers, hahaha. I am a random author. I like to say diverse but it could very well be schizo. I write for every reading level beyond young children. My 12 year old reads my YA and I just got a wonderful letter from a 63 year old lady, who I have to email later today, who loves my books!!

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

I thought what a wonderful opportunity to start off publishing books and learning the ropes. I am my publisher so it was all me. I was all the above, scared and excited and nervous and optimistic. I never imagined it would be where it is now. It's a full time job for three people, minimum. That's crazy. My thoughts now, 21 books later, are exactly the same as they were for the first book. I don't sleep for a week when a book releases. I harass the hell out of my beta team. I am a psycho about it. It works out though because I only have a couple days to stress before I have to start on the next book publishing. Once I am in the next book I don't have time to be a psycho. 

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

Yes, wow. There is a lot of support, as long as you don't expect anyone to do your job for you, from fellow authors and bloggers and reviewers. But it's confusing at the beginning and a little guidance is nice. I know I have emailed someone like say, Shelly Crane a few times and been like yo, what should I do. She has been brilliant and friendly and really helped me. Same as Totallybooked Blog. I don't make any career choices without asking them first hahaha. I will have to put them on the payroll soon. I didn't realize the author world would be like any other job. You have your awesome people, your needy people, your negative people. It is varied, like an office. I will say, the people who keep their head down and work hard, do well. The people who focus on the negativity have a hard time finding success. But I also never knew there were so many amazing people who would help you because they believe in you. I never predicted any of this. I sort thought I would publish a couple books and have fun with it. It has blown up into something amazing and awesome and that is entirely because of the wonderful support I have. I am blessed and grateful.  

Is your book available in print format? Which came first and why? How did your e-book come about? 

They are all available in print now. I have actually got preorder with Amazon now, which as an indie is HUGE. So Createspace is working with me to get my paperbacks on preorder as well. That is so amazing. Indies rarely get the chance to do it so I am grateful to Amazon for taking a chance on this indie. The ebooks came first. One mountain at a time lol.  

Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing? Why or why not? How do you see the world of e-publishing for children within the next 5 years? 

Absolutely. I love paperback books but the economy isn't there for them. People cannot afford to spend the money they used to, not when a viable and economical choice, like ebooks, is available. Everything in the world costs so much, so getting an ebook for $1.99 really makes reading possible for everyone. I like that. I would say the future will be the reversal of how it used to be. Paperbacks will be the vanity press and ebooks will be the common way of publishing.

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

No, not at all. I love ebooks. I love that I can let people in the low income bracket read my books for .99 cents or free.

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

No, it makes it accessible for all levels of income and kids are kids. My kids, like all kids, are addicted to electronics and where one will read anything and love it, the other will not. The eldest reads paperbacks, ebooks, the back of a cereal box, she doesn't care. The other however, has not caught the reading bug. So before she is allowed to game on her ipad she has to read for 20 minutes. If she gets bored of a book it is so easy to snag a new one off of Amazon and start. Kids don't have to wait for their parents to go to the bookstore to get the next book. So before the kids lose interest in the series or forget they were liking a book, it's ordered and on the Kindle or iPad or Nook or Kobo or ereader. It keeps books current in their minds.

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

For me it is price. Being able to price lower makes reading more accessible.

You can find out more about Tara Brown at her Amazon Author page or her blog, or by following her on  Facebook or Twitter. If you prefer reading on a Nook, her books are available on the Barnes & Noble website.

Check this week's Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more top ten authors in electronic format. You might find a new favorite!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

DON'T TURN AROUND: Three Weeks in the Nook Top Ten For Teens

Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon first showed up in the top ten for Teens in the  Barnes & Noble Nook store on August 3rd. The following week it was still there, and last weekend it was back again. This is the first book in Michelle's Persefone trilogy, and the 2nd book, Don't Look Now, was just released last month.

First, Michelle, tell us a little about your book.

DON’T TURN AROUND is being pitched as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets The Bourne Identity,” which perfectly sums it up for me. I’m a huge fan of both of those books, so I can’t imagine higher praise! 

(Michelle has a great description of the book, along with a book trailer, at her website.)

Tell us briefly about your path to publication: Traditional or independent?

I actually have a series of four “adult” novels with a different publisher, and a standalone YA novel (STRANGELETS) with SoHo Teen. I’ve always been traditionally published, but when I was starting out, that was really the only option. 

What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?

HarperTeen has been doing a fantastic promotion for the series, gearing up for the release of the second book in the trilogy (DON’T LOOK NOW, which comes out in a couple of weeks!) They’ve really been working their social media networks and blog contacts. 

How are people finding out about your book? Tell us about your marketing and use of social media.

DON’T TURN AROUND was selected for several high school summer reading lists because YALSA picked it as one of the best YA novels of the year, and Texas, Florida, and Maryland all added it to their state reading recommendations. From there, it kind of snowballed; it was a Kirkus pick for 2012, was nominated for a Thriller Award and a Black Eyed Susan Award, was an IndieNext pick, and was chosen by Entertainment Weekly Magazine as a hot teen read. I’m active on tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, etc; but in the end, I think that having the series selected for those lists made all the difference.

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

My favorite Amazon review so far was, “I am a senior and I say this book is great for any age.” Honestly, the story isn’t any different from what I’d write for adults; the only change is that my main characters are a bit younger. I always tell people that if they enjoyed The Hunger Games and Divergent, they’ll probably like this trilogy too.

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

Helps, definitely. Thanks to eReaders, there’s really no such thing as going out of print any more. It’s difficult to find copies of three of my adult novels in print; but they’re all instantly available as eBooks. For a writer, that makes an enormous difference.

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

I think that anything that gets people reading is a good thing. I bounce back and forth between reading on my Kindle and reading print books, depending on what I have on my TBR shelf. And I probably end up buying twice as many books a year, just because it’s so easy. I also have a lot of friends who were dropped by their traditional publishers, but have found a niche self-publishing. As far as I’m concerned, it’s win-win.

Learn more about Michelle and her books by visiting the links I've included above. And have a look at this week's Kids' EBook Bestseller List. You might find some new favorites!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Catherine Ryan Hyde on BECOMING CHLOE And Becoming An EBook Bestseller.

Catherine Ryan Hyde has written 22 published and forthcoming books, but we're going to focus on one--Becoming Chloe.  For two weeks in early August it held the number 9 spot in the Children's and Young Adult section of She joins us today to share her thoughts on her success in e-publishing.

First, Catherine, tell us what Becoming Chloe is about.

Jordan is a 17-year-old boy who’s been reduced to squatting in a cellar in New York City. We find out later that his father beat him and forced him out of the house when he found out Jordan was gay. In that cellar he meets Chloe, and 18-year-old girl who fell through the cracks of the child protective system. She seems developmentally disabled, but Jordan eventually learns that her out-of-touch, childlike nature is something she’s taken on to shield herself from her traumatic reality. They stay together, and protect each other, but as Chloe becomes safer and more comfortable in Jordan’s care, her defenses begin to drop away. She becomes deeply depressed. So he takes her on the trip of a lifetime, traveling across the country in an old truck, hitchhiking, by bicycle and by bus. The idea is to prove to Chloe that it’s a beautiful world, even though Jordan isn’t sure he believes it himself.

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

I started out in 1991 publishing short fiction in literary and small circulation magazines, because I couldn’t get agents or editors to look at my novels. My first published book was Funerals for Horses (definitely not for children or teens) in 1997. I started out traditionally published. I published two books with tiny Russian Hill Press (now defunct), three with Simon & Schuster, including Pay It Forward, which was adapted for film. I published two books with Doubleday, and five YA novels with Knopf Books for Young Readers. My newer novels we sold directly to Transworld UK (Random House Group) but still couldn’t find a US publisher for them. So I started to bring them out independently in the U.S. Now I’m an Amazon Publishing author as well. Which I think makes me about as “hybrid” as an author can get.

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

Although many of my books are not suitable for young readers, the majority of them (I have 23 published and forthcoming) are for anyone from readers in their teens through adults of any age. I base this on feedback from my readers. I don’t know that authors are always the best ones to judge.

Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing? Why or why not?

No, I don’t think ebooks will ever completely run pbooks (physical books) out of business. I’m old enough to remember when people said the same thing about audio, which at the time was called books on tape. It was supposed to kill the book as we know it. Kind of funny in retrospect. I think ebooks are just another great new way to read, one I suspect younger readers will eagerly embrace, as they tend not to be threatened by technology. I do see a time where ebooks are the mainstream, and pbooks more off the beaten path. When the car was invented it quickly overtook horses as the main mode of transportation. But there are still horses in the world for anyone who wants one. 

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

It has helped me tremendously. Easily 95% or more of my new readers are Kindle readers. Amazon Publishing has been great, and Amazon as a bookseller has given authors great new tools to promote their books directly to readers. It revived my career at a time when traditional publishing was not interested in me, and therefore my sales were low. I owe a lot to ebooks. My independent books are mostly available in print-on-demand paperbacks as well, because I know some of my readers don’t embrace ebook technology, and I don’t want them to feel locked out. But I sell paperbacks in the tens, and ebooks in the thousands. So the new technology has been a boon to my career, and brought my work to literally hundreds of thousands of new readers.

Visit Catherine's website, her Amazon author page or her Bookstore on Red Room. And don't forget to stop by often for more interviews with successful e-book authors for children and young adults who hit the Kids' EBook Bestseller List.  You can also click on the Author Index tab to access over one hundred previous interviews.