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.