Saturday, January 17, 2015

THE FIRE SEEKERS: #1 with Kindle Teens for Five Weeks

The Fire Seekers, by Richard Farr, showed up on the Kids' EBook Bestseller list on October 4th. That week it was #1 in the Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store. For the next four weeks, it stayed in that spot, and for two more weeks it stayed in the top ten. 

Richard joins us today to tell us about his story, its success and his path to the top ten. 

Time to pull out your synopsis skills! In a few sentences, tell us what your book is about. 

"The Fire Seekers" is a mystery / thriller about the nature of consciousness, what human beings really are, the origin of civilization, and some even more complicated stuff. Woah, sorry... I'll back up a little.

A lot of YA novels are about either future / alternative worlds, or the supernatural (magic, gods, demons), or both. But there's one deeply strange puzzle right here, right now, inside your head: it's called consciousness. You don't just lurch around doing stuff, as a robot might, do you? No: you have experiences like pleasure, sadness, light and dark, hunger and pain. Why? How is that even possible? That these words *look* gray to you, or that you *feel* a bit thirsty, or are *enjoying* the music in the background, is perhaps the deepest mystery in the universe. (Philosophers have a nickname for consciousness: they call it "The Hard Problem.")

Many cultures think this "inner mental flame" was, along with language itself, a gift from God, or the gods. Well what if it was a gift to us, deep in the past - only, the gods lied about what it was for?

In The Fire Seekers, an archaeologist discovers a buried version of the "Towel of Babel" myth - but along with it there's a 5,000-year-old warning that the whole story about our disobedience is propaganda. And now the "Architects," - the source of all our myths and religions - have returned, and they're more angry, ruthless, and desperate than ever...  

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

I've had different e-book experiences with four different books. #1 was published as a hardback by a major publisher, FSG, but never went even into paperback, and I eventually persuaded them to give me back the e-rights and did the e-book myself; #2 was completely self-published, then self-published as a paperback; #3 ditto - still in process. All of 1-3 were fun to do but much, much more time-consuming than I had bargained for - I sank hundreds and hundreds of hours into just learning how to do, and then doing, the covers. #4 (The Fire Seekers) was a very different story - bought out professionally as an e-book by my publisher in advance of the (forthcoming: Nov 1) hardback and paperback.

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

I'm very lucky to have been picked for the Kindle First program by Amazon. It's a brilliantly simple marketing idea: tell people, essentially: "Hey, for a month before the official pub date, you can have the book for free - we hope you like it and say nice things about it." The idea is not unlike traditional publishers sending free galleys to a few dozen potential reviewers - but on a much, much bigger scale. One problem with e-book marketing is that you can't exactly give it away. But you can offer it for a very low price initially, and, if you turn your e-book into a paperback, using CreateSpace, you can use Goodreads Giveaways - which I have done, and strongly recommend. The bottom line: it's very, very hard to get anyone interested in reading your book just because you say it's good. You need other people to say it's good. So you need to get a few dozen, hundred, thousand people reading it - and that means (at first) giving it away.  

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

I'm not fond of the idea of target audiences. I think you should focus on writing whatever you think is a good book, and believe that there's always an audience (somewhere!) for that good book! For me, this applies to 'genre' but also to age range: in my first book, *Emperors of the Ice,* my aim was to write so that (a) the book would be an easy read for most 13-year-olds, but (b) it would never occur to an adult reader that it had not been written for adults. I believe I succeeded; I know it can be done.

Beware: some will say this is terrible advice! For sure, the *easiest* way to get readers is to find a narrow genre, and figure out exactly what people who buy that genre want. But that attitude to writing never produced a truly original book, much less a great one - and the greatest satisfaction a writer can know is to write exactly what thrills *you* and then discover there's an audience for exactly that. 

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

I'd love to say that I work from 8 to 12 every single morning without fail, write exactly 2,000 words, then go for a long walk and spend the rest of the day reading. This is what successful writers do! It's that easy! (In theory.) Unfortunately I'm lazy, and phenomenally easy to distract, so alas a more typical day is: get side-tracked by email and stuff; work a bit from maybe 10 to 1 but fail to actually produce much because of fiddling around at editing some earlier material and then looking up seventeen things on the net; having lunch; needing a nap; getting back to my desk only to remember that I have to go to the Post Office and also agreed to mow the lawn and cook dinner. I'm working on Ghosts in the Machine, the sequel to The Fire Seekers. Very slowly.

Learn more about Richard and his books by visiting his website and his blog.

See the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more top ten e-format authors and their books. It's updated every Saturday morning. And check back next week when my featured author will be C.J. Redwine.

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