Saturday, March 29, 2014

NOAH ZARC: MAMMOTH TROUBLE Sailed to the Top Ten for Kindle Kids

On March 22nd, Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, hit the number 4 spot in the Children's section of the Amazon Kindle store. And author D. Robert Pease reports that Noah got up to the number one spots in the subcategories: "Science, Nature & How It Works" and "Science Fiction > Time Travel". 

Mammoth Trouble is the first book of the Noah Zarc trilogy. Each book can be purchased separately or all together in the Noah Zarc: Omnibus edition. 

D. Robert, let's start by finding out  what your book is about.

Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth's animals from extinction. Life couldn't be better. But the twelve-year-old time traveler learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is kidnapped and taken to Mars; his dad is stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying Earth... for the second time.

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

I've been writing seriously for about fifteen years. The first several years I had the typical dream of finding an agent who would in turn find a publisher who would in turn print, distribute, and then sell millions of copies making me a household name. But the more I read agent's blogs, and dug into the world of publishing, the more I realized how naive I really was. It was a million to one shot I'd ever make a living at this thing called writing. Then the self-publishing revolution began and I started seeing authors who were publishing books on their own and making a decent living at it. I hired editors, designed my covers (I'm a professional designer/illustrator by day) and sent my babies out into the world. And nobody noticed. My beautiful little children just got trampled under the feet of people still scrambling for the latest Percy Jackson story. Eventually I found my way to a small press, Evolved Publishing, and found a fit that works for me. They are a great group of dedicated people working in then new grey area between traditional publishing and self-publishing. They offer great royalties, just a bit less than if I had continued on my own, but also great editing and support. I'm excited about the fact that people are actually reading my books now. I'm still no J.K. Rowling, but I'm having fun, and hearing great things from my readers.

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

Fun stories that treat kids like intelligent human beings. Top notch editing. And lots and lots of time and hard work.

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

My Noah Zarc series is targeted to kids 9-13 years old. This is actually a very difficult age to target. Most kids get their book recommendations from teachers, librarians, and parents. Or from fellow class-mates. And most of these are still heavily embedded in the traditional publishing market. The Scholastic Book Fair that most schools in the U.S. have is an excellent example of how the big publishers can get their books into kids' hands. I do believe that more and more kids are reading on e-readers, it's just a question of how do we find our way onto those devices. I'm involved in several initiatives to do just that. One way is through a group of fellow MG authors called Emblazon ( We band together to help raise awareness for all of our books. One way is by publishing a catalog that we mail out to librarians and teachers. If we can show them that self-pub books are every bit as good as traditionally published books, I think we can star to turn the tide.

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

I always have something in the works, but it's hit-or-miss whether I write on any given day. My design business comes in spurts so I can go weeks between writing, then binge for a week or two. I do give myself solid deadlines to finish manuscripts, and that keeps me on track to meet my goals. I am in the midst of plotting out the second book in a new YA fantasy series called Joey Cola. The first book, Dream Warriors: A Joey Cola Novel, is due out in July of this year. I also have an epic fantasy called: Shadow Swarm, coming out in May. So, I am heavily involved in working with my editors on both of those projects too.

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

I am convinced that the e-book revolution is here to stay, and it will only grow. People will look to buy print books for only those stories they fall in love with. You just can't beat the cost and ease-of-use of e-books. I have a short story prequel for my Noah Zarc series coming out in a couple of weeks. It will be free to anyone who wants to download it. This is a great way to get more people reading my books. This just couldn't happen without e-readers being widely available.

Find out more about D. Robert Peirce and his books at his website or by following him on TwitterFacebook, Goodreads, or Google+. And there's a book trailer  for the whole series. For non-Kindle formats of the series, see his website

Have a look at the updated Kids' EBook Bestseller Listfor more top ten authors for Children and Young Adults. You may find some new favorites!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE: 4 Weeks as a Nook Top Ten for Teens

On February 15th, Dead Girls Don't Die by Jennifer Shaw Wolf hit the #6 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes & Noble Nook store. Then Jennifer's book stayed in the top ten for three more weeks after that!

Jennifer was a guest on this blog back in January of 2013, when she found e-book success on Amazon with Breaking Beautiful. (See that interview HERE.) She's back today to share more about her path to the e-book top ten.

Let's start with a summary of Dead Girls Don't Die. 

Jaycee and Rachel were best friends. But that was before. . .before that terrible night at the old house. Before Rachel shut Jaycee out. Before Jaycee chose Skyler over Rachel. Then Rachel is found dead. The police blame a growing gang problem in their small town, but Jaycee is sure it has to do with that night at the old house. Rachel's text is the first clue starting Jaycee on a search that leads to a shocking secret. Rachel's death was no random crime, and Jaycee must figure out who to trust before she can expose the truth.

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

I hope that a lot of my sales come from word-of-mouth and people who read BREAKING BEAUTIFUL, but that’s hard to track. In many ways I’ve done less social media outreach with DEAD GIRLS DON’T LIE than I did with my debut. I did a blog tour through Book Nerds tours and I did a trailer “blast” a few weeks prior to the book’s release. My publisher, Walker Books for Young Readers did the $1.99 promotion for February and March, as well as getting BREAKING BEAUTIFUL up again as a Kindle Daily Deal. I think those things have helped push the book toward the top of the list and have (hopefully) generated more word of mouth.

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 made up of teens, almost teens, and those who remember their teen years fondly (or not). I have three teens in my home and I’ve seen a lot change in the e-publishing realm of young adult fiction. When I first sold BREAKING BEAUTIFUL in late 2010, I knew very few teens with e-readers. Now almost every teen I know, including my own kids, have some sort of e-reader or access to an ap that lets them download and read e-books.

I think that e-books in the YA market are a pretty natural fit. Teens are very tech savy and slightly impatient when it comes to getting what they want now. With e-books, you can own almost any book you want pretty instantly and you can carry it with you on your phone to read anywhere.

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

I love e-publishing both as a reader and as an author, but I wasn’t prepared for the level of piracy that goes on when books are available electronically. The most unexpected thing was finding almost my entire manuscript (in a format I didn’t even own) on the internet a week before it was due to release. It’s probably the biggest risk you run with the convenience of both receiving and delivering books electronically. 

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

My goal for 2014 has been to write something every single day. So far I’ve only missed one day. I didn’t even have a good excuse, I was busy, then was tired and just kind of forgot that day.
I know there are different opinions on the productivity of writing every day, but it works for me. The farther I get from the story and actually putting words up on the screen, the harder it is to pick back up. I recently found this quote from Ray Bradbury, “Just write every day of your life, read intensely. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” I especially like that part of the diet is more reading. 
As far as my current project…it’s a cold-case murder mystery about Justice, a 16-year-old girl stuck spending her summer in a lake house with her mostly-normal aunt. Looking for a little excitement, she teams up with the hot life guard from across the lake to teach the rich kids a lesson, but their harmless prank turns into a tragic accident and unearths a long-buried family secret. Justice has to figure out what happened at the lake eighteen years ago before it happens again.

Learn more about Jennifer and  her books at her website or by following her on Facebook or Twitter.  

Check this week's updated Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more top ten authors for children and teens. Note: There have been some changes to the chart. First, Amazon now has a bestseller list for Children, separate  from the YA books. Formerly, they bunched both together. This change, in my opinion, is long overdue. Second, the Sony EBookstore is now closed and has merged with Kobo, which has been added to the chart. These changes give us a more dynamic list and many more authors to hear from in the future! So keep checking back every week for the latest stats and interviews.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

E.G. Foley Found Double Success in the Kindle Store.

On Saturday, February  22nd, The Lost Heir and Jake and the Giant hit the number 2 and number 3 spots respectively in the Children's and Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store. These books are by Eric and Gail Foley, who write together under the name E.G. Foley.

Both books are part of Eric and Gael's Victorian-set fantasy adventure series, The Gryphon Chronicles. Gael joins us to talk about the first book in the series, The Lost Heir, and the e-format success of The Gryphon Chronicles, which they published independently.

First, please tell us what your book is about. 

THE LOST HEIR (The Gryphon Chronicles, Book 1) is about Jake - a spunky, orphaned pickpocket, age 12, living by his wits in Victorian London. Jake can't figure out why he has suddenly started seeing ghosts everywhere or why he is suddenly able to move solid objects with his mind. But when a sinister earl and his henchmen comes hunting him, Jake has to run for his life. As the danger unfolds, he learns that he is the long-lost heir of an aristocratic family with magical powers--and that the adventure has just begun.

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

We are a husband-and-wife writing team. Eric is fairly new to writing, but I (Gael) have been traditionally published by Random House and HarperCollins in the US since 1998 (19 novels in the romance field to date, with #20 coming out this summer.) So I have a lot of experience in the traditional publishing world.

Due to my deadlines for my adult fiction, I didn't dare take on another round of deadlines with another publisher, so when Eric and I started writing together in the middle grade fantasy genre, we never even submitted the Gryphon Chronicles to any publishing houses. Maybe we'll try that route with a future series, but for now, we love the creative freedom and control of independent publishing. 

BOOK 2 in the series
That said, I'm not sure I would've been brave enough to try it if I didn't already have so much experience in publishing, as well as a lot of contacts who were already venturing into indie publishing to great success. Various author friends and colleagues helped me find resources like good freelance editors and cover artists. I now know this was definitely the right choice for us, especially since I came into it with a strong platform and a large readership base of romance fans who are moms and grandmas, i.e. the main book purchasers for the kids in their lives.

Eric, by the way, has always been my trusty first reader and critique partner, and he brings a real understanding of the kids to our work, since he's a teacher. He's the teacher all the kids hope they get. He's funny as heck and known for his stories. We love being able to work on these books together, combining our different strengths. I do think it's a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. :) 

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

We got picked for a Kindle Daily Deal, I'm not really sure why! LOL. I think the Amazon system must have noticed that our sales have jumped dramatically from book to book, and they just saw an opportunity to promote a product that they felt a sizable number of their customers would enjoy. Because of that promotion, The Lost Heir went to #26 on all of Amazon e-books, and became the #1 Children's e-book for about 48 hours or so. We are very grateful for the exposure. We really do our best to create books that all ages will enjoy, from kids to grandparents.

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

We're not too big into social media, really. We enjoy posting fun stuff on our blog once a week and send out a newsletter when we have a new book ready. That's about it. We spend the bulk of our time writing. :)  

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 broad-based, all-ages and both genders - what Hollywood calls a Four Quarters audience - male, female, young, and old. Basically anybody who likes a swashbuckling sort of PG-rated fantasy adventure, with a dash of scary and a good dose of funny.

I think, though, that there is a particular audience that would benefit most from our books, and that is children who are advanced readers, but who are still young enough that parents want to find "clean, wholesome" reading material for them.

It can be tough to find a book that is "smart" enough in terms of reading level (in this case, about a 5th Grade reading level), but does NOT bring in teenager-level content. That's why the Gryphon Chronicles is firmly categorized as middle grade, not YA. It's an adventure, and the Victorian setting lets us go for a classic feel, with a traditionally-oriented worldview. I won't give any spoilers but I am glad to tell you that we are firmly in the camp of happy endings. :)  

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

I would not have predicted the resistance that we get when we try to encourage writer friends to look into indie publishing as a real, viable career option. I don't know why they don't want to listen. I have been on the inside of Big 5 Publishing for over a decade, have had many books on the New York Times and USA Today list, and am published in 17 languages, but they still look at me like I don't know what I'm talking about. Do the math, people. Writers never want to do the math. There is a serious benefit to retaining control of your IP (intellectual property) rights.

What does your writing schedule look like? What are you working on now? 
Gael: I write every day from about 7:30 AM to 2PM and then do all the other business related work in the evening, which is when Eric has his writing time after he gets home from his teaching day at school.

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

Whatever makes life easier for the readers is what matters most to us. As readers, we both LOVE being able to instantly download any book we want without having to special order it or drive around to different bookstores trying to find it or pay for shipping and wait a week. It's instant gratification. I still value print books, (indeed, that's why we also offer our books as POD trade paperbacks) but I like the fact that ebooks kill less trees. In the paperback world, publishers purposely print many, many thousands more copies than they ever hope to sell so that they can have those big, impressive stacks of books at the front of bookstores in the hopes of drawing the customers' attention. But half of those books end up getting destroyed. It's a REALLY wasteful process.

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

Eric attended an educational seminar at his school once where learning specialists shared the results of a study which suggested that reading comprehension is increased when readers can do two things: Enlarge the font size so there's more white space on the page, and change to a sans serif font.

Reading on an e-reader allows you to do both of those things, so what that says to me is that e-book reading is beneficial, particularly for kids who are usually reluctant readers.

Furthermore, the dictionary function of an e-reader allows a kid to instantly find the definition of an unfamiliar word. So, they are building their vocabulary in the most painless way possible--while enjoying their entertainment. Thus, there is no need now for any writer or publishing house to do the child the terrible disservice of dumbing down the language.

For all these reasons, we see ebooks as a win-win, and indie e-books as an additional win because they are more reasonably priced. But the difficulty, as always, is discoverability. 

Learn more about Gael and Eric at their website  and see all the books in their series at their Amazon author page. Don't forget to have a look at the updated Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more interesting authors and their top ten books for children and young adults. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Karen McQuestion: A Kindle Success Story Still Going Strong

On Saturday, March 1st Celia and the Fairies by Karen McQuestion flew right up to the #1 spot in the Children's and Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store. Way back in January of 2011, which was the third month of this blog,  I wrote about Karen's new-found success in e-publishing. (See the post here.) Since then she has written books for adults, teens, and  kids and has sold over a half million copies all over the world.

This time, I'm not writing about Karen--she's answered my request for an interview!

Karen, let's start with finding out what Celia and the Fairies is about. 

When Celia Lovejoy's grandmother moves in with her family, she tells her granddaughter magical stories of fairies living in the woods behind the Lovejoy home. Ten-year-old Celia believes they are just that-stories-until the day she receives an unexpected visit from Mira, a real, live fairy. Mira needs a favor in a matter of the utmost importance. It seems that Celia's house and the adjoining woods are in danger of being demolished to make way for a new highway. The person behind this horrible plan? Vicky McClutchy, a spiteful woman who holds a childhood grudge against Celia's dad. Fairy magic can counteract this evil, but it will only work with Celia's help. Aided by neighborhood friend Paul, Celia begins a danger-filled quest that takes her out in the woods at night to face her greatest fears.

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

After ten years of trying to get my books published traditionally, I stumbled upon the idea of uploading my books (six of them, at the time) to Amazon’s Kindle in 2009. The timing was good and early readers recommended my books on message boards. Within a few months, my titles had hit the bestseller lists and it only got better when my books were acquired by Amazon Publishing and helped by their marketing reach. 

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

Amazon magic! The book was recently featured as the Kindle Daily Deal. I can’t tell you how it was chosen. I just woke up one day and there it was. A great day for me.

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

Book covers are really important as well as making sure interested readers can find the books via onsite searches. In my case, girls who liked other books about fairies might have their parents look for similar titles, so picking appropriate keywords is essential. I want to make sure that if someone does a search on Amazon for “Fairy books for girls” that my books come up. As far as social media goes, I am active on Twitter and Facebook, but I’m not entirely convinced they are a useful tool for getting the word out.

Some studies say children reading e-books are reading more, while other studies say they comprehend less of what they read. What’s your opinion or experience?

I believe that the majority of e-book readers are adults, and that children are just starting to read on electronic devices. I can’t honestly speak to how this affects their comprehension, but I have been told, by a mother of a boy with dyslexia, that her son finds it easier to read on a Kindle because he can increase the font size and not be distracted by all the other text on the page. In that case, it’s a definite positive. 

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

The target audience for Celia and the Fairies and the follow up book, Secrets of the Magic Ring, would be kids, ages 7 to 11. I’m hearing that readers of my adult novels will buy these books for their kids and sometimes read the books themselves. With the majority of my sales in Kindle, I’m always working to get the books into libraries and schools. Often if I donate the books to a library, I’ll notice that other libraries in the same system will acquire the books, something that warms my heart.
Learn more about Karen and her books at her website or by following her on  Facebook  or   Twitter. And check out this week's updated Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more all the latest top tens for children and young adults.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

18 THINGS by Jamie Ayres Found Success in Kindle Format

Today's featured author is Jamie Ayres. Her book, 18 Things got all the way up to  the number 5 spot in the Children's and Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store last Saturday. It's the first book in a trilogy, followed by 18 Thoughts and 18 Truths. She calls her books, "YA coming of age love stories with a paranormal twist." 

Jamie, tell us what your book is about.  

Seventeen-year-old Olga Worontzoff is falling apart after the death of her best friend, so her therapist gives her an assignment: Complete 18 tasks before the end of her 18th year — but there’s more to the list than Olga ever expected.

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

I teach middle school Language Arts, so I write at night after the youngest spawn goes to bed around 8pm. I usually devote three hours to writing, then unwind with an hour of reading. When I'm meeting deadlines or when the muse mojo is flowing on the weekend, I've been known to forget about food and showering (eww gross, right?) . . . I'm currently working on the last installment of the My So-Called Afterlife Trilogy: 18 Thoughts: Olga Gay Worontzoff left the Underworld anxious to return to normal, but fate had other plans; now she’s caught in a world that’s a mix of familiar and supernatural, torn between past and present.

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? 

Oh, I LOVE the Magic 8 Ball! I think the world of e-publishing for children and young adults over the next 5 years will become much more interactive. My publisher has already started experimenting with clickable tweets and Facebook Status updates at the end of some book chapters on the Kindle version. Since young people inhale video games, I think publishers will start building games, scavenger hunts, and hidden Easter eggs (for extra book content, etc) as a way of enticing young people to read more. Do I think it will ever replace print publishing: My sources say no ;-)  

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

Helps for sure! When I'm out and about and complete strangers learn I'm an author, the first thing they usually do is whip out their smartphone while asking me the title of my book so they can download the novel instantly! Also, there is loads of marketing magic to be found in Kindle Daily Deals, BookBub Bargains, and the like!

Learn more about Jamie and her books  by visiting her website or by following her on Facebook or  Twitter.  And check out this week's updated  Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more top ten authors and their books. You might find a new favorite!