Saturday, November 30, 2013

AMERICAN BORN CHINESE by Gene Luen Yang: 3 Weeks in the Top 10!

On Saturday,  Nov 16th American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang showed up on the Kids' EBook Bestseller List, taking the number 4 spot in the Children's and Young Adult section of the store. Here we are, two weeks later, and it's still there!

American Born Chinese is a 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album: New, an Eisner Award nominee for Best Coloring and a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year. And now, in 2013, it has found success once again, this time in electronic format.  Author Gene Luen Yang joins us today to share his experience, insights and opinions. 

First, Gene, tell us what your book is about.

American Born Chinese is a graphic novel about the Asian American experience. The book is made up of three separate story lines. In the first, the Monkey King, hero of ancient China, fights for his place among the gods. The second follows Jin Wang, a young Chinese American boy, as he adjusts to a predominantly white community. The final story line stars Cousin Chin-Kee, the embodiment of the negative Asian stereotype.

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

American Born Chinese started off as a self-published book. And when I say self-published, I mean very self-published. I would finish writing and drawing a chapter, photocopy it, staple the photocopies into books, and hand-sell them to local stores and at local comic book conventions. Eventually, I signed on with First Second Books, who put it out as a full-color graphic novel, both digitally and in print.

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

I have a website at I'm also on Twitter and Facebook.

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

The e-format is just incredibly convenient. Reading devices are generally lighter than print books, and you can buy new content at any time, day or night. And especially for research - the ability to digitally search a book is essential. I do much of my reading digitally.

That said, I still love the traditional print book. I think the "object-ness" of the traditional book is becoming more important. A book's design elements - things like the font and the cover and even the paper stock - are an even bigger, more important part of the storytelling than they were before. The physical book itself isn't just a conduit of content, it's an active participant in the narrative.

Ultimately, I think digital and print can coexist harmoniously. They serve different needs.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Was it your idea or your publisher’s?

My publisher set up the e-book version of American Born Chinese. I was very excited about it! I love having my story available in as many formats as possible.

What does your writing schedule look like? What are you working on now?

I spend every other day working on books. Right now, I'm looking forward to the publication of The Shadow Hero, a graphic novel written by me and drawn by Sonny Liew. Sonny Liew are reviving a forgotten American superhero from the 1940's called the Green Turtle. The Green Turtle was created by Chu Hing, one of the first Asian Americans working in the American comics industry. Rumor is that Hing wanted the Green Turtle to be a Chinese American, but his publishers wouldn't let him. Hing reacted by composing the pages of his comic so that we never get a good glimpse of the Green Turtle's face. He always either has his back turned or his face hidden by shadow. Supposedly, Hing did this so that he could imagine his hero as he originally intended, as a Chinese American. 

Sonny and I are telling the story of how the Green Turtle became the Green Turtle.
Find out more about Gene and his books at his website, or by following him on Facebook or Twitter.

And as always, the Kids' EBook Bestseller List has been updated with all the latest top tens in the top online stores. Have a look for some new favorites!