Saturday, April 27, 2013

STORY'S END: A Nook Book Success For Marissa Burt

Today's featured author is Marissa Burt. On April 13th, her book Story's End hit the number 9 spot in the Kids' section of the Barnes & Noble Nook store. It's the sequel to her debut fantasy, Storybound. Both books are for middle-grade readers, and both got great reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. Welcome, Marissa!

First let's hear what Story's End is about.

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When Una Fairchild stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, she finds herself Written In to the land of Story—a world filled with Heroes and Villains and fairy-tale characters.

Together with her new friend Peter and a talking cat named Sam, Una digs deep into Story's shadowy past to find out why she has been Written In. She quickly realizes that she is tied to the world in ways she never could have imagined—and it might be up to her to save it. 

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

Without question I think Harper's promotional push to give away my first book, STORYBOUND, in e-format during release week boosted the sale of STORY'S END. I think readers who otherwise might never have picked it up quickly snagged the freebie and, as a result, were drawn to STORY'S END. 

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

I am a big fan of anything that will get good books into the hands of readers, so I think e-publishing is a great option. I was happy when my publisher let me know STORYBOUND and STORY'S END would be released in e-format and hardcover, with paperback versions to follow a year later.  

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

This is a tough one. I am a Luddite at heart, and a book-loving one at that, so I have a hard time imagining a world without print books. That being said, I see the incredible value of e-publishing in its ease, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility. I also think e-readers will prove invaluable in the classroom and will quickly replace much of traditional textbook publishing. But novels? I'm not so sure. As a reader, I tend to read all sorts of books on my kindle, but I inevitably purchase my absolute favorites to have in print form on my shelves. There's just something about being able to scribble notes all over the margins and hand an actual copy off to a friend that's very satisfying.
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Find out more about Marissa Burt and her books at her website, her
blog, or by following her on Twitter or Facebook

And have a look at the updated Kids' EBook Bestseller List. You're sure to find more compelling books for children and young adults. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

DARK PASSAGE by Ridley Pearson: A Top Ten Nook Book From the Kingdom Keepers Series

Today's guest is Ridley Pearson, the New York Times bestselling author of nearly thirty adult suspense novels and several popular series for children. His work for kids includes three Neverland chapter books and the Peter and the Starcatchers series, all written with David Barry.  Ridley also wrote the Kingdom Keepers series which currently consists of six books. The most recent, Dark Passage, hit the Kids' EBook Bestseller List on  April 6th when it reached the number 8 spot in the Kids' section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store. Let's hear all about it.

Tell us what Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage is about.

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The five Kingdom Keepers and their core friends have uncovered a startling truth: Maleficent and the Overtakers (Disney villains) are plotting a catastrophic event that could have repercussions far beyond the world of Disney.

Aboard the Disney Cruise Line’s inaugural passage through the new Panama Canal, the Keepers and their holograms uncover a puzzle hidden within the pages of a stolen journal. The point of that puzzle will reveal itself in the caves of Aruba, the zip lines of Costa Rica, and the jungles of Mexico. A destructive force, dormant for decades, is about to be unleashed. The five Kingdom Keepers are to be its first victims. 

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

I am the author of 15 or so novels for young readers. It all began with 2 events. The first: While reading Peter Pan to my daughter one night, she asked me, "How did Peter meet Captain Hook in the first place?" That led to partnering with Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Dave Barry, and the Peter and the Starcatchers series. The second: While leaving Disney's Magic Kingdom one night, I imagined a world of trouble between the Disney characters while we all slept. My background was crime fiction--I have published around 30 suspense novels--and so I tried to bring the excitement and adrenaline of a crime novel to younger readers. 

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

The Kingdom Keepers series, about five teenagers who get inside the Disney parks after dark, has steadily grown in readership. We were lucky enough with the sixth book to have an audience ready and eager to snap it up. Through social media--our website, several Twitter accounts, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr--we got the word out early and readers of ebooks pre-ordered Kingdom Keepers VI:Dark Passage, and I'm guessing those pre-orders are what made this a strong selling on the best seller list. 

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

(See above) In addition to the social media Disney has a major publicity marketing plan underway, most of which did not/does not kick in until this week. Some of it, like a Disney 365 on the Disney Channel won't begin for another few days. So all-in-all it feels like social media, word of mouth, and the momentum of the series are responsible. 

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

I'm a tech oriented author. I embrace e-books, but am now cautious and concerned about the copyright violations being supported by some of the biggest companies. I hope and trust the day will not arrive when we authors must reserve e-book rights in order to protect our interests! That would be such a shame. Meanwhile, I'm doing some groundbreaking work with Coliloquy and Disney to launch the Kingdom Keeper Insider app that is allowing readers (older and young alike) to help me write the 7th and final book in real time. What an exciting project! 

Is your book available in print format?

Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage is a print book available in e-book format.

How do you see the world of e-publishing for children within the next 5 years?

I think e-book format will make steady gains in publishing in the coming decade. It would be a shame to lose the tactile experience of paper books for young readers. 

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

E-book format -- as long as it protects copyright, which right now is in danger of being circumvented by libraries and others -- is a terrific way to meet the needs of travelers, people in need of large print, and those of us too busy to lug big books around with us. I use e-books all the time, and even use e-pub to go green and read my own early drafts without using paper.
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Ridley has plenty of ways for you to learn more about him and his books: his website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and the Kingdom Keepers website. He also has a free Kingdom Keepers app available.

And don't forget to check the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more top ten authors!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Barry Lyga Took The #1 Nook Teen Spot!

Back on March 9th, the top book in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store was I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. And when I read the blurb, I immediately understood why. It was unusual and compelling, and even though I'm not a fan of thrillers, it made me want to read the book! Plus I Hunt Killers has been a New York Times Bestseller. It's super to have Barry join us  to talk about his e-pub success.

Let's start by hearing that interesting blurb. 

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What if the world's most notorious serial killer…was your father? In short, that's the premise of I HUNT KILLERS. Jasper "Jazz" Dent is the son of Billy Dent, the worst serial killer known to man. Dear Old Dad has been in prison for four years now, and Jazz is just trying to get on with his life. But then bodies start showing up in his small hometown. And if people don't suspect Jazz already, well, they will soon. Now he's got to catch a killer in order to prove to the world that he isn't one.

The novel's sequel, titled GAME, was just launched yesterday (4/16) and is available in print and ebook form from all the usual sources, including local bookstores, Amazon, BN.com, and Indiebound. 

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

Traditional from the start. My first book -- THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY & GOTH GIRL -- was published seven years ago by Houghton Mifflin. Since then, I've also published books with Marvel Comics, Scholastic, and Little Brown. 

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Were you hesitant? Excited? Apprehensive? Optimistic? Fill in the blank? 

Honestly, e-books are just another format. I don't get any more excited or anxious or "fill in the blank" about a book in e-form than I do about a book being in paperback. It's all the same words. It's still the same story. Only the delivery mechanism changes. I'm not interested in dictating to people how they should or shouldn't read my books -- if they want to read on a screen, good for them!

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

No, I don't. I think that at some point, there will be a tipping over and there will be more ebooks than not, but there will always be print books. Just as TV didn't kill radio or movies, so, too, can there be multiple ways of enjoying a story. There are advantages and disadvantages to each format, print and ebook. Depending on each individual's experiences and tolerances, one or the other will be more favored, and the publishing industry will provide options for both.

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

It makes sense that a generation that has grown up with iPads practically glued to their hands will be used to consuming media on a screen, so I think that the children's market will benefit from e-publishing as those kids grow up and begin to spend their own money on gadgets and content. It's a little tougher to justify spending a hundred bucks on a piece of electronics that a young child might break, so right now I think e-readers tend to be shared with kids. But when kids get into their teens and young adulthood, they'll start to accumulate their own "toys" and they'll probably be reading on them, since that's what they'll be used to. This generation is a mobile one; the generations to follow will be even more so. It's easier to be mobile with a library in your pocket than it is with an actual library!
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Barry has written eleven novels in seven years, some of which have their own websites, so there are plenty of places to learn more about him and his books. Try some of these links: 


I Hunt Killers
Mangaman  
Archvillain & Archvillain 2: The Mad Mask
Goth Girl Rising
Hero-Type
Boy Toy
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl

You'll also find Barry on Twitter.


Stop back on Saturday for the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List and an interview with Ridley Pearson.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A. J. Cosmo: Monstrous Success in the Kindle Store!

A.J. Cosmo has been on the Kids' EBook Bestseller List for twelve weeks. His book, The Monster That Ate My Socks, first showed up in the top ten of Amazon's Children and Young Adult section on November 17th. It stayed there through December, January, much of February, and on into March, getting as high as the #3 spot.

All that time I was not able to find contact information for A.J. In fact, he was on the author wish list that I posted on March 9th! At the beginning of April we finally connected through Twitter. A.J. made up for lost time and answered ALL of my questions. Sit back and enjoy -- he has an interesting story about his path to publication and his resulting e-pub success.

First, A.J, let's hear what your book is about. 

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The Monster That Ate My Socks tells the story of a young boy whose socks keep disappearing. He discovers that a monster has been sneaking into his bedroom at night and eating his delicious dirty ones. His mother doesn’t believe that this is happening, and she’s fed up with buying new socks. So it’s up to our hero and his friend to solve the dilemma. 

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

About five years ago, I wrote and illustrated a book targeted towards adult readers. I did the typical query letter route with several publishers and agents but received rejection and one encouraging thanks-but-no-thanks.

When I found myself without work late last summer, I started investigating alternative publishing solutions. I went with Smashwords first and converted some of my other writing into different formats. This didn’t work out because what I created was half-formed. I wanted to find an outlet that married my talents into something of value; children’s books were a natural fit.

I started self-publishing through Amazon Kindle in November of last year with my first title Gordon's Gravy. Amazon provided the most upside for self-publishing as they have a network of links and recommendations that do a lot of the legwork of advertising for you.

At the time I had little understanding of audience expectations, so I just put out whatever idea I had and hoped that it caught someone’s eye. It took three months of putting out content before I struck a nerve with The Monster That At My Socks.  

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

It’s hard to tell exactly what makes one book popular over another but here are a few consistencies:

1. A good cover. You always want your fonts clean, clear, and with good headroom. You should be able to read all the words even from the smallest thumbnail. My favorite cover is from Monsters A to Z. It manages to have the title and four characters clearly displayed and in harmony while still being clear in the thumbnail.

2. A good blurb. The most common reviews you get as an author are simply summaries, so I find it redundant to have one in your description of the title. Instead, I like to ask a question: “A raptor followed me home one day from school. I asked Mom if I could keep it and she said yes! But am I really ready to have a pet?” (My Pet Raptor)

3. A premise that is paid off. This is a concept that comes from screenwriting, but it holds true for all good stories. If your book is called Hug Bat, then at some point you have to have the bat hug someone. It’s a simple idea, but if the writer doesn’t fulfill their promise to the reader, they end up with an unsatisfactory story. Oddly enough, readers usually can’t identify this as a problem and just say “I didn’t like it.”

4. A satisfactory experience for the reader. I think of writing as making a mess and then cleaning it up. You’re not done until everything is back in its place. In The Monster That Ate Our Keys I tried to create a situation where everything turned upside down. I wanted things to be at stake (the father’s job in this instance) and a problem that seemed hard to solve (catching a slippery monster, or convincing it to regurgitate.) You want to create an experience for the reader. You want them asking questions and coming up with their own solutions. It’s the difference between showing and telling. People want to be a part of everything that they touch and if you throw enough questions out there, they’re bound to try and answer. All of those questions you throw out there, with some exceptions, need to be answered and there in lies the way that you satisfy your audience.

5. Creativity and surprise. I want all of my titles to inspire imagination and play so this is a particularly important point to me. However, I think writers get too hung up on originality. I’ve watched people drop ideas that sounded like something they hear, particularly when a new movie comes out. It’s not the idea that you come up with, but the execution and the detail that you put into it. Everyone has a unique voice, so we could all be telling the same exact story and there would still be variations. The death of writing is boredom, not mimicry. 

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

As of right now I only communicate publicly through twitter @AJCosmokids (I love hearing from readers!) I plan on doing more interactive things like games and contests, but up until this point I have relied entirely on word of mouth. 

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

I target emerging readers between the ages of four and eight. The stories are intended to transition children from being read to with picture books to reading themselves (with some illustrations to keep them interested.) I add in faux chapter breaks and natural stopping points to help the child along if they are struggling. You also can’t forget the parents either, so I also try to add inside jokes here and there for the adults to enjoy.

As for the eBook format itself, I consider it a separate medium from print (the same as film is a separate medium.) The experience of reading on an eReader is so different from a book, especially the 16x9 children’s books, that you have to engineer your work specifically for the format. The “blinking” of the digital page turning also creates a natural breathing to the reading, which is not as pronounced in paper format. 

I create all of my books specifically for the Kindle. The images, such as those found in Much Ado About Puffins are painted digitally in the dimensions that the Kindle supports natively (600x800pixels.) This gives the readers a better experience as the images are correctly proportioned for their devices. There’s no scaling or squashing, no cutoff, no breaks, and that makes for a better experience.

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

I think I have experienced every emotion you can in regards to e-publishing ;) But seriously, I think that the format has turned the table into a lazy Susan and the rules are constantly shifting. The gatekeepers used to be the agents, managers, and publishers who would use their years of experience dealing with the public to determine what the audience wanted. Now those gatekeepers are gone but the public remains.

Writers who want to make a career out of their creativity now have to contend with an unfiltered public. You have to wear every hat and that isn’t an exaggeration. It’s daunting, challenging, and exhilarating, but it is also tan demount to standing in the middle of a public square completely naked and asking strangers to critique your body.

I remember breaking into tears when one of the first reviews of “The Hope Flower” was posted. I had used a word that the reader didn’t like and got completely lambasted for it. That the word was bad had never crossed my mind, but here was the consequences staring right back at me. Had I gone with a publisher, that word, and thus the comment, would have never gotten out. 

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

“The Monster That Ate My Socks” breaking into the Amazon top 500 last Christmas came as a complete shock. I was thrilled and terrified, especially when fans started asking for a sequel. It’s hard enough creating something that people like in the first place, but replicating it is a whole new challenge. 

The connectivity, the matrix, of the ePublishing universe is also intriguing and somewhat alarming. Everyone knows everything almost instantly and I’ve watched the community react as a whole when the publishers change the rules. It’s incredible to watch. This whole format is still evolving as we speak (I have had to adapt in just the past few weeks to a new norm) and who knows what it will look like a year from now.

I think in the future we will see the winners of the digital publishing boom create gatekeepers that mimic the gatekeepers of old and the new story for writers will be the time Amazon accepted their query for their new novel. 

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

None of my material is available in print at this time. I am considering creating physical collections or special additions of some of my books, but I want them to be special and created specifically for the print medium (much of the artwork will need to be redone.) I also really like the idea of collectable books. 

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 think you could make the argument that this has already happened. From my perspective, however, the different mediums are filling different niches. The eBook format seems better suited to short form, serial, and genre types of writing such as romance, crime, young adult, and children’s books. These are “bite-size” stories that are easy to download, read, and put back down. I would even go so far as to say the progress bar on eBook readers act as positive reinforcement for finishing short material, and it also makes long material that much more daunting. 

Conversely, print format is increasingly becoming the realm of the memoir, the un-defined, the long-form, and the academic. I see the rise of “special” first editions as a reinforcement that these materials are to be cherished, respected, and collected.

None of what I just said is meant to be a critique of the quality of the writing on any of the mediums, they are of course wildly varied across all types, just an observation as to what the mediums seem to be gravitating towards.

As for children’s books, I think that we are in the nascent stages of what will become an animated and interactive medium. When I see children out with their parents and they have electronic devices they are always playing a videogame. Understandably, children want to play games while their parents want them to read. So I see eBooks for children transitioning into a hybrid interactive reading game.

Printed books will always have a place at bedtime because they are hand-me-downs. Those books accumulate memories and are increasingly cherished the more they are read. 

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

I see this question as a reference to the disdain that some people exhibit towards self-publishers. I don’t share that sentiment. Creativity is the same regardless of what medium you pursue and quality is rewarded in every form. 

Increasingly, the publishers who are just as adverse to risk taking as the rest of us, are asking for sales numbers of self-published authors as a litmus test to their marketability. True, some publishers still scoff at indies, but the money is hard to ignore.

I think eBooks have helped me as an author because I really could not have created what I have any other way. In the past year I have put out Thirty-Two unique books. That’s about a book every one and a half weeks.

Had I traditionally published, I would have been allowed to create at most four titles. True, the quality would have been better as the illustrations would have taken longer, but I already try to give my work what I think suits the story. I am a one-man cottage industry and this absolutely was not possible under the traditional publishing model, even by other writer/illustrators.

Admittedly, I have had failures. However, in those failures I have been able to get invaluable insight into what my audience wants. For me a failed title is simply a week or two worth of work gone, for a publisher that would mean a disaster of at least six months lost. 

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

Reading can entertain, enlighten, enrage, and enamor, but it can never hurt a person. Regardless of format, the activity of engaging the imagination through the brain makes us more aware of the world around us and the potential that it holds. I would even go so far as to say that reading makes us more intelligent, capable human beings (why do all those smart people read so much?)

Imagination, as Einstein said, “is more important than knowledge,” because we have to create the space, the potential, before we can discover something new. Imagination is the groundbreaker of the mind. Without it we become dull and our minds atrophy.

My goal as a children’s book author is to spark that imaginative drive. I want children to live in a world where something fantastic could potentially exist around every corner; where there is a whole galaxy of interesting things just teeming to be explored.

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

Children’s attention spans are constantly accosted by a host of stimuli (not to mention stimulus aimed at us adults.) Electronic devices are increasingly handed to children at younger ages (See article  "Should Your 2-Year-Old Be Using an iPad?") and those children are taking to them like ducks in water. The eBook format capitalizes on this trend while offering the rewarding experience that traditional books are renowned for.

Video games are increasingly replacing the roles that books used to occupy. Not that I have anything against video games, I play them myself, but it would be a great loss to lose the written word and the imaginative experiences that come with it. I hope that in some minor way I can inspire children to go from simple, humorous stories, to intricate ones capable of changing their lives forever.

We have in front of us the potential to create experiences yet unseen by the world and I count myself truly fortunate that I have been able to contribute to it.
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See all of A.J. Cosmo's books at his Amazon Author Page.

As usual, the Kids' EBook Bestseller List has been updated to show you all the bestselling ebooks for children and YA as of Saturday morning. Have a look -- you might find a new favorite!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING -- King of the Kindle Top Ten, That Is!

Super powers plus a super story equaled e-book success for author Kelly Thompson. On March 16th, her book The Girl Who Would Be King rose to number 5 in Amazon's "Children and Teens" section. Kelly told me it also hit the number ONE spot in Amazon's "Children's Fantasy and Magic" and "Contemporary Fiction" categories! She was happy to share her thoughts about her e-pub success.

Tell us what your book is about, Kelly.

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The Girl Who Would Be King is about two teenage girls with superpowers and radically different agendas, destined for a collision that will change everything. Separated by thousand of miles, Bonnie Braverman and Lola LeFever are about to realize their extraordinary powers which will bind their lives together in ways they can't begin to understand. One girl driven to rescue, save, and heal; the other driven to punish, destroy, and kill. And now they're about to meet.  

How did you get published: traditionally or independently?

My agent and I actually tried to go the traditional route, but were met with resistance since TGWWBK did not fit easily into a marketable box and felt a bit adult for YA. Rather than shelving the book, I did a Kickstarter so I could fund a print (paperback) version of the book (in addition to the digital version) and we exceeded our budget by 330%, which made a limited edition hardcover with sixteen pages of full color illustrations a reality. It was amazing! You can buy digital and paperback versions of TGWWBK on Amazon.com (and digital non-kindle versions should be back up on ibookstore and B&N soon). The limited edition hardcover with illustrations is only available through my website - and selling fast! thegirlwhowouldbeking.com 

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

I've had a lot of amazing readers that have loved the book and talked about it widely. It is still surprisingly difficult to get indie/self-published books reviewed on major sites - despite the success of so many self-published books of late. I got VERY lucky and Rob Bricken at io9 loved my book - and gave me a rave review on the site - that really broke TGWWBK free and got it in front of a lot of people. We've had a whirlwind of sales (and interest in the book) since then. I hope it will keep growing.

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

There's some wonderful control in e-publishing. The ability to modify your product and to constantly track sales and offer deals. It's a dream in some ways. I was initially very nervous (and hesitant) and I'm surprised by the benefits that I found and how enjoyable a lot of the process ended up being. That said, I find formatting e-books very stressful. It's a whole different format for me and I found it difficult to make the book look as professional as I wanted to. If I do it again I will definitely hire someone so I can get the best possible ebook - absolutely stunningly professional - as it makes a huge difference.

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

Yes, as I said above, the Kickstarter success allowed me to fund both a paperback version - complete with a gorgeous cover by French artist Stephanie Hans. The paperback version, which came out a couple months after the digital release, is available on both Amazon and Lulu. The limited edition hardbacks - with a section of full color gorgeous illustrations - also by Stephanie Hans - were made possible by the over-funding from the Kickstarter. It's pretty fantastic, because having color printing in prose is pretty much unheard of these days since it's so cost prohibitive.  


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

I absolutely believe the e-format has helped me. I think the access and the instantaneousness of it makes it very appealing to people, and as an author it puts money in my pocket very quickly. That said, I'm seeing thousands of copies of my book being pirated, so that's a bit of a bummer, and it's just not really a controllable thing. If your book exists as a digital thing, then if people want it, they will get it. I'm glad to have so many readers, but as a writer trying to make a living off your writer, it's a bit discouraging. I have trouble imagining digital ever fully replacing print though. Print offers so many wonderful things that digital cannot. I wouldn't trade anything for how that gorgeous illustrated hardcover feels in my hands - I love it!
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Kelly supplied me with plenty of links if you want to know more about her and her books.. Check out her Blog, the website for TGWWBK, the TGWWBK Facebook page, or Kelly's author website.

Stop back on Saturday for the updated Kids' EBook Bestseller List!



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jennifer Castle: Award Winning YA Author Finds Even More Success in the Nook Store

Today's featured author is Jennifer Castle, who wrote The Beginning of After. Her book hit the number 4 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store on March 16thNo surprises there, since it's a YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults book! Readers of Nook books obviously agree.

Jennifer, let's hear what The Beginning of After is about.

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When Laurel’s family dies in a horrific car accident, she struggles to put her life back together. She is now connected to David Kaufman, who lives down the block, and who lost his mother in the same crash. Both of their lives change—but not in the ways that they thought…"The Beginning of After" blends tragedy with romance, teen angst, and wit to stand as a testament to how people can survive the unthinkable. 

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

My path to publication was quite traditional and relatively smooth -- I got very lucky. It was the writing of the book itself that took many twists and turns over six years. A key point in that journey was participating in the Big Sur Writers Workshop, which is sponsored by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Once I finally had a completed manuscript, I sent it to one of the agents there, Jamie Weiss Chilton, who fell in love with the story, took it on, and guided me through a round of deep revisions. Then it went out on submission to editors, and was eventually acquired by Rosemary Brosnan at HarperCollins Children's. She loves to tell the tale of how she was reading the manuscript on the train home to New Jersey and it made her cry, and knew she had to publish it. Fortunately, the rest of the team at HarperCollins felt strongly about the book and really helped get it into the hands of readers.  


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

Well, HarperCollins is very smart when it comes to marketing, and as we build up to the paperback release of "The Beginning of After," they put the e-book on sale for a period of time. The book has already had great word of mouth, excellent reviews on Barnes and Noble's website, and a few accolades. So whether they were already aware of the book and had it on their "to be read" list, or had just discovered it, I think the $1.99 sale price encouraged readers to snap it up. I really love this strategy and honestly, I was tempted to buy it myself for my own e-reader! 

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

It so totally helps. "The Beginning of After" has always had strong e-book sales, and I take that as a sign that many adults are reading it. Many adults are more comfortable reading YA in general, thanks to e-books. If they're sitting on the subway or in a cafe, nobody has to know they've got a "teen" book on their screen. The option of downloading a free sample of a book onto your reader has also helped people "taste" books risk-free before committing. As a reader, I love having that opportunity, and as an author, it opens up your book's sales potential tremendously.
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Learn more about Jennifer Castle and her books at her website, or by following her on  Twitter or  Facebook.
 

See today's updated Kids' EBook Bestseller List to find more top ten authors for children and young adults! And check back on Wednesday when we'll hear from Kelly Thompson, author of The Girl Who Would Be King. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Darkness Before Dawn: Number One in B & N's Teen Section!

Darkness Before Dawn by J. A. London hit the number 1 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store on March 16th. It's the first book in what will be a dystopian vampire trilogy and it's written by a mother-son team. Enjoy the interview! 

First, tell us what your book is about.
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DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN takes place in a world where vampires rule and humans are herded into cities following a war. Our heroine, Dawn, serves as delegate to the vampire overlord of Denver, Lord Valentine, negotiating for blood and the protection of the citizens of Denver. She’s the youngest delegate ever, taking over the position after her parents are killed. She hates vampires; they’ve taken everything from her. Then she meets Valentine’s son, Victor, and discovers that she doesn’t know everything about vampires. As the city faces an evil threat, she must work with Victor to ensure the safety of all. The second book, Blood-Kissed Sky, is available now and the final book, After Daybreak, will be released in July.

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

J. A. London is the mother-son writing team of Lorraine Heath who also writes as Rachel Hawthorne and her son Alex. They are traditionally published by HarperTeen. While the Darkness Before Dawn trilogy is their first collaborative effort, Lorraine/Rachel has nearly 60 published novels.

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

Our target audience is older teens. The story is gritty and leans toward the dark. E-format works well for those who enjoy ultimate technology and reading on e-readers.

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

Yes, our books are available in print, through bookstores. The print and e-editions were released at the same time.

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

We believe the eformat helps us an author. It broadens our readership and allows us to include those who prefer e-readers. One of the nice things we’ve found about e-readers is that if someone recommends a book to us, we can immediately download and begin reading it.
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Learn more about the J. A. London books at their website or by following them on Facebook or Twitter

And check this out: J. A. London  is the 100th e-book bestselling author to be featured on this blog! See the Author Index page for the full list of authors, their books, and links to their interviews.

And stop back on Saturday for the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List and an interview with Jennifer Castle, author of B & N Teen bestseller, The Beginning of After. Onward to the next 100!