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. 

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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.
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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.