Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ashfall: A Kindle Bestseller for Award-Winning Author Mike Mullin

Back in October, Ashfall by Mike Mullin hit the number 5 spot in the "Children and Teen" section of the Amazon Kindle store. Mike's been a busy guy since then, but he took some time to tell us about his e-pub success. Thanks, Mike!

Let's start with some info on your story.

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My debut novel, ASHFALL, is about a teen struggling to survive and find his family after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging the U.S. into a cataclysmic natural disaster. The sequel, ASHEN WINTER, is available now and the final volume, SUNRISE, is scheduled for Spring 2014 release.

How did you get published: Traditionally or independently? Recently or further in the past? 

I started querying ASHFALL in the spring of 2010. It was rejected at some stage—query, partial, or full—by 24 literary agents. (If you’re struggling with getting published, take heart from this. Yes, your work might not be ready. But it might also be great work that simply hasn’t found a champion. Take a look at the list of awards and blurbs at www.mikemullinauthor.com, including a starred review from Kirkus and a listing among NPR’s top 5 YA novels of 2011. I’m pretty confident that ASHFALL wasn’t garnering rejections due to its quality.)

Two editors requested ASHFALL after hearing about it from my mother. (She owns Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis) I haven’t heard back from one of them yet. The other was Peggy Tierney of Tanglewood Press.

If I hadn’t landed a traditional publishing deal, I probably would have self-published ASHFALL as an e-book. But I’m thankful to be published with Tanglewood—they’ve done a far better job of editing, cover art, and marketing than I could have managed on my own.

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

Somehow my publisher got ASHFALL on the Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99. (Normally it runs close to $10—Amazon has it priced at $8.32 right now.) The sale vaulted ASHFALL to #27 (in all books, not a subcategory) and it’s been selling well ever since. Sales for the sequel, ASHEN WINTER, have been strong since then even at full price (it’s $9.99 today).

I also believe the quality of the story, editing, and cover art have played a crucial role in ASHFALL’s success. Books sell predominantly via word-of-mouth, and people don’t talk much about books they didn’t love.

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

I think print and e-publishing will co-exist for the foreseeable future. Media technologies tend not to supplant each other. Television didn’t kill radio, and the internet hasn’t killed radio or TV. Paperbacks didn’t kill hardcovers. Ebooks will continue to gain market share at the expense of printed books, particularly mass market paperbacks, but at a slower rate than in the past.
Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?

It helps. Owners of e-readers buy more books overall than non-owners. They don’t quit buying print books, either.

My only concern about the e-book revolution is the rampant theft of e-books. The bulk of peer reviewed studies show that theft of digital media is cutting into sales—which takes money directly from authors’ pockets. I urge your readers to shun sites that enable e-book theft and to make it clear to friends and colleagues that stealing an e-book is no different than robbing a physical store (both forms of theft take money from creators and raise the price legitimate consumers have to pay). E-book thieves should be stigmatized in exactly the same way shoplifters are.
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You can read the first two chapters of Ashfall here.  And Mike sent me quite a variety of links where you can learn more about him and his books:
WebsiteBlogGoogle+,   Twitter,  Facebook,   Goodreads and Pinterest.

Stop back on Saturday when we get to hear from Jeff Mack, author of Good Day, Bad Day.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Old McDonald Had a ... Bestselling E-Book!

Earlier this month author Ken Baker was on the Kids' EBook Bestseller List with his book, Old McDonald Had a Dragon. It hit the number 2 spot in the Children's and Young Adult section of the Amazon Kindle store. Ken is here today to give us his insights on electronic publishing and his successful experience. 

First let's hear what your book is about. 

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As you can guess from the title, Old MacDonald had a Dragon is a picture book about Old MacDonald and a dragon. Even though farms and dragons don’t mix, Old MacDonald loves to sing about the new dragon on his farm until the animals start to complain and disappear.

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

I’ve followed the traditional path to publication. In 2001 HarperCollins published my book, BRAVE LITTLE MONSTER. About nine years later, Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books (MCCB) picked up both of my two latest books, OLD MACDONALD HAD A DRAGON and COW CAN’T SLEEP for publication in fall 2012. About 10 months before publication, Amazon.com bought MCCB to form its own traditional children’s imprint called Amazon Children’s Publishing.

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

To be honest, I believe a lot of it has to do with the fact that the imprint is under the Amazon umbrella. Amazon has a lot of experience and expertise with digital content, and they use that to help their authors’ books succeed. 

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

For any book to succeed, you have to get word out through multiple channels. Having Amazon to back me up helps, but there’s a lot I need to do. I’m not a social media expert, but I try. I have a blog that primarily targets librarians, teachers and parents who are interested in getting children to read. On my website I have put together a number of lesson plans that leverage children’s books that can be used to teach different subjects like Comparing & Contrasting, Narrative Writing, Phonemic Awareness & Alliteration, the Five Senses, and even a music oriented lesson plan. I also tweet a little bit, but I’m still trying to figure out that one.

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 young children and the parents that buy books for them. I’m not certain yet how well the e-format works for that audience, but it’s definitely growing. I think it’s too early to tell how big of an impact it will have. 

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

The plan for both of my two latest books was always to have them simultaneously published in print format and digital. I looked at ebooks as just one more opportunity to sell the books, but I didn’t look at them as being a major play because I think there’s bigger growth for ebooks in the teen and adult markets. However, with the rise of tablets and more parents letting their children have access to tablets, I believe that is opening up the growth for digital picture books too.


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

It helps. It’s one more way to get books into children’s hands. I also think that sometimes in the children’s market, an ebook sale can lead to a printed book sale. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true for other markets. 

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

I don’t know that e-format hurts the readers, it’s simply another choice. I think it would hurt if they lost the choice to buy printed children’s books. Two years ago, based on readers’ input I ran a few articles on my blog on why people would choose ebooks over printed books, and vice versa. The findings were quite interesting. Even though it’s a little dated, I think for the most part the information in the articles is still relevant. You can find the articles in three parts:  Part 1
, Part 2, and Part 3.
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Find out more about Ken Baker and his books at his website and his blog.

Don't forget to see this week's Kids' EBook Bestseller List for the top ebooks in the top stores. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Horrible Harry: 25 Years Old and Going Strong in E-Format

For much of December and straight through to January 5th, author Suzy Kline stayed in the top ten of the EBooks.com "Children and Young Adult" section with her e-book, Horrible Harry and the Holidaze. Suzy joins us today to share about her path to e-pub success. 

Suzy, first tell us what Horrible Harry and the Holidaze is about.

Room 3B shares their special winter holidays - Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Three Kings' Day, and the Korean New Year. Everyone is in a festive mood except Harry. He's not interested in the holidays, the new student, or even the new class pet. What's bothering Harry? Can anything shake him out of his daze?

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One note about the selection of holidays. I love the mail that I get from readers. And I got one from a boy who asked why I didn't include a Muslim holiday in my Holidaze book. Although he liked the story, he was disappointed there wasn't one included. I wrote back and told him how much I appreciated his thoughtful letter. Since ZuZu joined Harry's class (he's from Lebanon) and is a Muslim, I very much wanted to include Ramadan. However when I researched the holiday I discovered that Eid al- Fitr was celebrated in August. Now I'm planning to include it when Room 3B celebrates summer holidays.
 
The story (in Horrible Harry and the Holidaze) is also about Harry coming to terms with his granddad living in Shady Pines (a nursing home.) He used to live with Harry.

The "seed" for this story came from the 7 years I visited my mom in a nursing home. Many times I would bring my young grandchildren to visit her and the joy they brought her was amazing. I wanted readers to see how Harry's visits made an important difference, and that his close relationship with his granddad continues despite the changes aging brings.


Regarding the questions about "E Books"...
I'm no doubt the last person to ask. I am delighted that readers are enjoying Harry stories online, but it all happened without any of my doing. It's part of my two book contracts now and I welcome the addition of E Book editions. Harry stories are first published in hardbound books, then a year later, paperback. E Books are launched simultaneously with hardbound editions.

What's most important to me is that children are reading! That's exciting! When I was visiting a school recently, a student came rushing up to me saying , "I loved Horrible Harry and the Scarlet Scissors!" And I said, "Wow! That book just came out- how did you get it so fast?" And he said. "Easy! I read it online!"

One of your questions was about the advantages of e-publishing and that encounter I just described with the boy in the hallway answers it better than I could.

I don't have much to do with the marketing of my books. My publisher handles that.

I do know that Horrible Harry has been in second and third grade now for 25 years so 2013 is Harry's Silver Anniversary! The first book was Horrible Harry in Room 2B in 1988.

I'm just very thankful that children are still reading about Horrible Harry whether it's from a library book, paperback, hardbound book, or E book.

Get to know more about Suzy and her books by visiting her website.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

E.D. Baker: Once Upon a Top Ten Kindle List!

On the January 4th Kids' EBook Bestseller List, author E.D. Baker hit the number 8 spot in Amazon' Children's and Young Adult section with the e-book version of Once Upon A Curse. She joins us today to tell us about her book and its e-pub success.

For starters, tell us what your book is about.

In Once Upon A Curse, the fourth book in the Tales of the Frog Princess series, Emma is faced with the family curse that will take effect on her upcoming sixteenth birthday. It isn't until she goes back in time to hear the original curse that she finally learns how to end it. Even then, despite everything she's done, the curse remains a threat until magic, love and an unexpected encounter with a ghost end it forever.

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How did you first get published? And was that recently or further in the past?

The Frog Princess, my first book and the first story in the Tales of The Frog Princess, was published by Bloomsbury in 2002. Dragon's Breath came out the next year and Once Upon A Curse came out in hardcover the year after that (2004). It came out in paperback in 2006. After I wrote No Place For Magic, the fourth book in the series, I wrote The Salamander
Spell, the series prequel. I now count The Salamander Spell as the first book in the Tales of The Frog Princess. There are also three other book in the series - The Dragon Princess, Dragon Kiss and A Prince Among Frogs. I have two other series as well. The Wings series includes Fair Wings and Fairy Lies. The Wide Awake Princess series includes The Wide Awake Princess, Unlocking The Spell and the book that I am currently writing which is due out in the fall of 2013. I also have another book that is not related to any other coming out in the fall of 2013.

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

I think e-books are fantastic! The format makes books readily available to a wider audience any time, anywhere in this digital age. Once Upon A Curse is still available in both hardcover and paperback. My publisher suggested the e-book. As I'd already had readers asking for it, I embraced the idea whole-heartedly.

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?

I see the e-book industry expanding and becoming more widely used. I don't see it taking over the print market. There will always be people who will prefer a printed book in hand. There is something to be said for being able to pull a book off of a bookshelf and thumbing through the pages to your favorite part. I do think that within the next 5 years we will see e-books being more integrated into the classroom. Knowing how to use an e-reader and knowing how to access e-books will become a necessary skill in our ever growing digital society.

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

The nice thing about the e-book version of children's literature is that the books can be turned into an interactive experience, especially picture books. A print book would not necessarily be interactive unless it were a pop up or specialty book.

Visit E.D. Baker online at www.talesofedbaker.com or www.edbakerbooks.com.

Today (1/19/13)  E.D.'s ebook THE DRAGON PRINCESS is featured on Amazon as a Kids' Daily Deal. Got a Kindle? Grab her ebook for $1.99.

And check out this week's new Kids' EBook Bestseller List for all the latest top tens in the top online stores.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Breaking Beautiful: Breaking Through to #1 on Amazon

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Today we get to hear from Jennifer Shaw Wolf, whose e-book Breaking Beautiful got up to the #1 spot in the Children's and Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store back in November.

Jennifer, first tell us what Breaking Beautiful  is about.

 Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a tragic car accident—including her memory of the event. All she has left are the scars and a sneaking suspicion that the crash wasn’t an accident after all. When the police reopen the investigation, it quickly turns on Allie and her best friend, Blake. In her search for what really happened, Allie’s memories collide with a dark secret about Trip she’s kept for too long. Caught somewhere between her past and her future, can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free?

How did you get published: traditionally or independently? Recently or further in the past?


I’m a traditionally published author. I wrote two other books and had been through the query process (with a lot of rejections) with one of them before I wrote BREAKING BEAUTIFUL. My query was plucked out of the slush pile by my wonderful literary agent, Sara Megibow. She helped me polish it up and then (after another twelve rejections) we sold the book to Walker Books for Young Readers. There is more to the story, but that’s the extremely condensed version.

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


I was lucky enough to be an Amazon Daily Deal for $1.99. When I found out BREAKING BEAUTIFUL was going to be featured, I spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, my website and then a lot of word of mouth, but because of Superstorm Sandy, I didn’t know it would be featured until the day before it went up. I would have done more self-marketing if I had known earlier. I credit my publisher and Amazon for the amount of marketing and the sales spike that happened afterwards.

Is your book available in print format? How did your e-book come about?


The book came out in print and e-format simultaneously.

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


The best thing about e-publishing (in my opinion) is that it gets more books to more kids, especially young adults. In the last two years I’ve seen my teens and their friends jump on the e-book bandwagon. They can have a book easily and instantly and in many cases they can make their own choice about what they’re reading. As a mom and young adult author, I’m in favor of anything that gives kids greater access to books and gets them reading.
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Learn more about Jennifer and her books at her website, or by following her on Facebook or Twitter. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Jason Edwards: Sharing the Clues to His Amazon EBook Success

The blog is back! For the first time since I started Kids' EBook Bestsellers back in November of 2010, I took a couple weeks off from posting. And now I'm ready to start the New Year off with a bang -- Mom's Choice Award winning author Jason Edwards! Jason's book, Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective, was in the Amazon top ten for children on December 1st and December 8th. Then I went on vacation and didn't keep track. But now that I'm back I see that it's still there, coming in today at number 6. Wow! Let's learn all about Jason's e-book success.

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


Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective is the frighteningly funny story of Will Allen, a smart but timid boy beset by manifestations of fears that have literally come to life. Together with his best friend, Jeannine Fitsimmons, he searches fruitlessly for help, until a mysterious business card appears that instructs him how to summon the Great Monster Detective, Bigelow Hawkins. With Bigelow’s help, Will must learn how to confront his monsters and reveal the secret of the dreadful HIDDEN BEAST before it’s too late…

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So how did you first get published: traditionally or independently?

My path to publication was definitely non-traditional. Although I always enjoyed crafting stories, I only did so for my own amusement (kind of like singing in the shower – but for the getting water in your ears). I only began my path to publication when I was consumed by a grand inspiration that compelled me to share it with the world. That inspiration came from…a toilet.

Yes, you read that correctly.

You see, when my daughter was very young, she was frightened by a loud, automatic-flushing toilet that flushed repeatedly as she was sitting on it. It may sound absurd, but she was traumatized so badly that she never wanted to return to the park where it happened. This fear took on a life of its own and grew to the point that soon she did not want to go to any park, or movie theaters, or restaurants, or any place she imagined might have a toilet like the one that scared her. My wife and I tried sending her to counselors, psychiatrists, therapists, psychologist, etc., to no avail. Since we could not FIND anyone who could help, I INVENTED someone instead – the Great Monster Detective. Amazingly, that seemed to help her, and I realized that there must be many other children (and their parents) who faced similar issues, and might also benefit from the services of a monster detective. This was what set me in motion to write the book Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective, and to pursue its publication. I initially sought out traditional publishers, but after two or three thousand rejections, I realized that I simply did not have the standing, either via a network of connections in the industry or a platform of potential readers ready and waiting to buy copies, to entice editors to even look at my book, much less publish it. It was then that I began down the path of the independent publisher.


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

 
My kindle version of Will Allen and the Great Monster Detective is currently ranked as the #3 Children’s Literature e-book on Amazon, which qualifies it as being remarkably successful for an independently produced work that has had very little marketing muscle behind it. I’d love to say that this is because the book is so wonderful that no one can resist reading it (Which it IS). I’d also love to say that it is because of my clever and inventive marketing efforts, including my MONSTER HUNT program that I have performed at well over a hundred schools, libraries, and book stores across the country. I am quite certain that these have contributed to the book’s success, but to be honest, I think that price has also been a major factor. Let’s face it – providing readers with an e-book costs next to nothing, so the price need not reflect recouping the cost of production. Determination of price is solely a marketing decision, and the fact that many e-books cost nearly as much as their paper counterparts reflects a pricing policy on the part of publishers that is intent upon reaping the most dollars possible. This is perfectly sensible – we are all trying to make money in this business - but it may not be the best way to build an audience. My books, especially the first volume in the Chronicles of the Monster Detective Agency series, are priced far lower than the norm in order to attract readers, with the intention of getting them hooked on the series, and thus interested in purchasing succeeding volumes.

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


My book series began as early chapter books intended for the 7-13 year old reader, and as such, they are aimed at a difficult market to reach. Most kids this age are not yet using social media (MY 12 year old is not on Facebook, but my 17 year old is). Because of this, the website and the Facebook page I produced for the Monster Detective Agency have received scant attention. My most successful marketing tool has been my personal appearances at schools, libraries, and bookstores. These appearances are always distinctive, unique, and memorable for all involved. You see, it never appealed to me to come in to a venue and lecture kids (and I don’t think it appeals to the kids either), so I brainstormed about what kids would like, and about what my potential hosts would find appealing and valuable. It was my determination that kids wanted to have FUN (brilliant, no?), while my hosts, the librarians (both school and public) wanted kids to learn research skills – the ability to find books in the library all by themselves. So I created an educational program in which children would have an exciting adventure and develop library skills without even realizing it. I created the MONSTER HUNT. This program has proven so successful and popular that I have performed it at over a hundred schools and libraries across the country, and I have many libraries that commission me to perform for them year after year.

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


My Chronicles of the Monster Detective Agency series begins as an illustrated early chapter book, suitable for children between the ages of 7 and 13. As we progress through the series, the books grow longer, and the reading level progressively more challenging – as the readers (and the characters they read about) grow older, the books grow with them. The conclusion of the series is in the length and format of a YA novel. Kids of these ages are in transition – they are just about to leave the ‘Leap Pad’ age but are generally not yet at the ‘Kindle’ age, which is to say, they are between the ages in which they enjoy picture books with interactive content and the ages in which they like to read text-only content. As such, they are a difficult group to market an e-book to. More and more, tablet computers are providing e-book apps with interactive content features for this age group, and I believe (though I do not yet have one developed for my books) that this trend will grow, as it eases the transition for these readers, and provides additional content that makes e-books potentially more appealing than their paper counterparts.

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


I believe that the e-format has helped me in that it has provided a way to reach a huge, wide audience that might otherwise be beyond my means. Just today, I received a fan letter from a girl in Vermont – and I have never BEEN to Vermont, nor, to my knowledge, have any bookstores in that state ever carried my books.

Similarly, I believe that the e-format has helped my readers, who might otherwise have found my books unavailable or inaccessible in their local bookstores. To date, I have sold copies of my books at performances in states all across the country including California, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Massachusetts. Readers that have been enthralled by what they have read might find access to the sequels difficult but for the availability of the e-book versions.
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Learn more about Jason and his books at MonsterDetectiveAgency.com, the book's Facebook page , and the Chronicles of the Monster Detective Agency book trailer.

And don't forget to check today's Kids' EBook Bestseller list for more interesting authors and their fantastic ebooks for children and young adults!