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 EBooks.com 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.

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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 geneluenyang.com. 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.
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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!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

SNUG AS A BUG by Amy E. Imbody Finds New Success in Kindle Format

On October 26th Snug as a Bug, a rhyming bedtime story by Amy E. Imbody, hit the number 10 spot in the Children's and Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store. Snug as a Bug has been around for over a decade. It won the International Reading Association's "Children's Choice Award" in 2002. It has appeared in full picture book format, two "I Can Read" formats, including the bilingual Snug as a Bug/Arropadito y a gusto "I Can Read/ Yo se leer" format plus of course, Kindle format where it achieved top ten success. Amy joins us today to talk about her book's electronic success--which she nearly missed!

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

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Snug as a Bug is about the hilarious "time-for-bed" conversation between a sensible child and his whimsical mom. To her list of whacky suggestions (beginning with "Would you like to sleep like a snug little snail curled up in the garden pail?") his patient answer is: "Dear Mother, I know this seems wild. But really, I just want to sleep like a child!" 

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? 
 
Oh, I nearly missed the boat altogether on e-publishing! When the contract came for inclusion of the e-publishing of Snug, I thought, "Right. Who in the world is going to be interested in an easy reader on an iPad?!" So you see, I was clueless. I'm just glad that I managed to sign and return the contract!
 

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

As you might guess from my previous answer, the whole shebang has been wholly unexpected! When Snug hit the top ten in Kindle sales for Children/YA, I didn't even know it until you contacted me. That morning, I said to my husband: Guess what Snug did while I wasn't looking? Ha! 

Is your book available in print format? How did your e-book come about?
 
Snug as a Bug was originally a print hardcover full blown picture book, released in 2001. This is by far my own favorite version of the book, for its language as well as its visual aesthetic. It is a gorgeous book, maximizing illustrator Mike Gordon's hilarious two-page spreads - and was honored to receive the International Reading Association's "Children's Choice Award" the following year. Then Zonderkidz re-released it in the "I Can Read" format you see in the e-book. Its next resurrection was as a bilingual (English/Spanish) "I Can Read/Yo se' leer!" version which I'd love to see in e-book format as so many more children would be able to access and enjoy it. Finally, I am experimenting with self-publishing for Kindle of K-3 lesson plans for teachers and home schooling parents - This little book is jam-packed full of academic content to explore as part of a thematic unit. For example, at Lorien Wood School in Vienna, VA, where I am Head of School, Snug is part of a thematic unit for K and 1st graders on the topic of "Sleep, Rest, and Sabbath in God's World." Children use the book as a starting point to learn all about what happens while we are sleeping, about animals that hibernate, about habitats, about various kinds of "sabbath."


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

OH, I certainly hope not! There is nothing like holding a "real" book, turning its "real" pages, feeling its heft in your hands. But e-publishing has made some kinds of access much more possible for some children, and their little brothers and sisters cannot tear the pages! As a parent (and now I am a grandparent!) I would happily supply to my children - a hundred times! - a beloved print book that is accidentally "injured" by too much love, before I would consider replacing it altogether with only an e-print version. That's my own old-fashioned bias speaking!
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Find more fascinating authors at the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List, updated every Saturday with the top tens from the top stores. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

THE LEGEND OF LIGHTNING LARRY Struck With a Bolt of Top Ten Success on Amazon

On Saturday, November 2nd, Aaron Shepard's e-book for kids, The Legend of Lightning Larry, hit the number 5 spot in the Children's & Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store. During the week when I wasn't looking, Aaron tells me it got as high as number 2. (This morning it's at number 11, and he has another book in the top ten: The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale.) Today we get to hear all about The Legend of Lightning Larry and Aaron's trip to top ten success.

First tell us what your book is about. 


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No outlaw could draw as fast as Lightning Larry. But what really terrified those bad men was that peculiar gun of his. It didn't shoot bullets. It shot light. And Larry always aimed for the heart.

Can Larry save the town of Brimstone from Evil-Eye McNeevil's outlaw gang? Find out in this rip-roaring original tale of a gunfighter with a huge smile and a hankering for lemonade.
 

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

I started selling a number of picture books to traditional publishers, large and small. But for the past 10 years or so I've mostly been self publishing for both children and adults, primarily in print but increasingly in ebook.
 

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

Probably the biggest factor in my success is that I've completely ignored social media.
 

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs? 
 
My target audience for this book -- in the ebook version -- is mostly parents with tablets who are looking for books to read to their kids.
 

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

I have very mixed feelings about e-publishing. I dislike the compromises I have to make in book design, especially when adapting print editions. On the other hand, the pictures, if done right, can look fabulous. And I can't complain about the readership. Every couple of months, Lightning Larry sells as many copies in ebook as he did in his entire hardcover career with Scribners.
 

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

For one thing, I was surprised how many grandmothers were buying the book. I wasn't expecting to reach that generation. For another, I was surprised to reach #2 on the Kindle Children's bestseller list!
 

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

I recently published the update to my book "The Business of Writing for Children," Amazon's all-time bestselling children's writing guide, now available in both print and Kindle. And I'm wrapping up an update of the first book in my trilogy about Kindle book formatting, "From Word to Kindle," "Pictures on Kindle," and "HTML Fixes for Kindle."


Time to pull out your Magic 8 Ball: How do you see the world of e-publishing developing for children and young adults over the next 5 years? Do you think it will ever exceed or replace print publishing?

It has already exceeded print publishing for self publishers. In five years? I see the field totally flooded by people who have no clue how to write or illustrate a children's book, making it extremely difficult to find quality self-published books. Actually, that probably won't take five years. ;)
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Learn more about Aaron and all of his books at his website.  And don't forget to check the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List for all the top tens in the top stores online.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

EVERTASTER: Kids With Kindles are Gobbling It Up!

Back on September 21st, Evertaster by Adam Glendon Sidwell hit the number 3 spot in the Children's and Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store. Adam has had a full schedule since then, including a book tour. But he didn't forget my request for an interview, and he's here today to share about his e-pub success.

Let's start with a description of your story, Evertaster. 


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When eleven-year-old Guster Johnsonville rejects his mother’s casserole for the umpteenth time, she takes him into the city of New Orleans to find him something to eat. There, in a dark, abandoned corner of the city they meet a dying pastry maker. In his last breath he entrusts them with a secret: an ancient recipe that makes the most delicious taste the world will ever know — a taste that will change the fate of humanity forever.

Forced to flee by a cult of murderous chefs, the Johnsonvilles embark on a perilous journey to ancient ruins, faraway jungles and forgotten caves. Along the way they discover the truth: Guster is an Evertaster — a kid so picky that nothing but the legendary taste itself will save him from starvation. With the sinister chefs hot on Guster’s heels and the chefs’ reign of terror spreading, Guster and his family must find the legendary taste before it’s too late.

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

I don't think anyone's reading my tweets, but if they do, they'd find out that Evertaster can make them happy! I get connected to a lot of people on Facebook and in person at signings, and that's really great, because with social media, we can continue that conversation further, and we can be friends. I like to hear what the kids think about my books, and also meet them later again at signings. Kids sometimes get so nervous, when their parent nudges them up to the signing table. But they always have fun once they've got a signed book in hand.

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


My book is also available in print. When it first launched, Evertaster claimed a spot on the top 100 Overall Bestseller List for print books. The ebook came shortly thereafter, through the efforts of Trident Media Group, the Agency that represents me.

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


I'm not sure yet about that. So far, I sell about 10 print books for every one of my ebooks. Perhaps as e-readers are passed down to kids in greater numbers, we'll see a shift in that. For me, I like the idea of being able to post links to youtube videos inside my books, or even to that one gif of the two legged horse if I feel like it.
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Find out more about Adam and his books at the Evertaster website or by following him on Facebook. And you can find more top ten authors for children and young adults on this week's Kids' EBook Bestseller List.