Saturday, June 20, 2015

DOLLHOUSE: A Top Ten Hit with Kindle Teens

Today's featured author is Anya Allyn. Her book, Dollhouse, hit the number 10 spot in the Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store on April 4th. It's the first book of four in The Dark Carousel series, although there is a free short story prequel called Thirteen.

Anya classifies her books as young adult Gothic horror/thrillers, and she joins us today to talk about her e-publishing success.  

First, tell us what your book is about.

DOLLHOUSE is about a group of teenagers who end up in a dark, surreal dollhouse beneath an old mansion. There's a place inside the Dollhouse, known as the Toy Box, from which they can enter into other realms--the past, a macabre carnival and some terrifying places.

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

I started out with the thought of going traditional. I actually didn’t know there was any other option! I had been a features’ writer for a media organisation in Australia (from 2002-2009) and was now homeschooling one of my boys and running a small business.

I began writing fiction at night. I uploaded a short story to a place named (now just to gain feedback from teenagers. It was a site where you gained criticism for your writing and also upvoted others for a chance to gain a review from Harper Collins. To my shock, my story sped to the top within a month or so, and I gained a great review from a HC editor. It gave me the confidence to try writing a book. By the time I’d written DOLLHOUSE in 2012, I’d just heard about Amazon and decided to try it as an independent.

I had a lot of success with Dollhouse and went on to write three more books in the series.

In 2013, I had three publishers contacted me - one large and two smaller. I ended up going with one of the smaller--Paper Lantern Lit. I felt that the PLL editor, Lauren Oliver, really ‘got’ my book and that together with the PLL team, I could make the Dollhouse book the very best it could be. This interview explains a little more about that time from Lauren’s side of things.

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

I’m not sure, to be honest. I continue to be astounded people like the weird and creepy stories floating about in my head!

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

I will admit I’m not great at marketing. I’m an introvert who finds it almost impossible to say, ‘please review my book’ or ‘hey, here’s a book you might like’!

I keep a presence on my Facebook author page and love interacting with readers there.

I’d say that the biggest thing you can do for marketing is to write a series that people really like. Which isn’t really marketing but writing! A lot!  Books in a series can help sell each other, as each book is like its own little billboard at a vendor, and also many readers like totally losing themselves in the world an author creates--which can be difficult to achieve in the space of a single book.

Of course, advertising is a big factor in book discovery. Advertisers such as BookBub and promotions run at distributors such as Amazon and iTunes can really catapult your book.

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 have four boys. There was definite frustration with the older two in not always being able to access the books they wanted to read. Now, I have a kindle, and it’s great being able to offer the younger two more variety. I’m not sure about the comprehension side of things, but I definitely think it’s something for educators to be aware of and keep researching.

As you got into e-publishing, have you discovered unexpected things? 

Things. Change. So. Fast.

That’s been the biggest thing that I’ve noticed. It’s a whirlwind and hard to keep up with it all.

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

My writing schedule is basically this: After I drop my children off at school, I'm home by 9.30am. I start writing at 10am. Run around and do some cleaning up at 2pm and then pick my kids up again. And then there's kids' sport, homework and dinner. I rarely get more than two solid writing hours in. There are always other things to take care of in our very busy household!

At the moment I’m writing a psychological thriller--a new genre for me! I'm also working on getting together a new website of authors who write dark YA fiction: I’ve just released a standalone YA sic fi novel (Lake Ephemeral), which I'd love to write a sequel for in the future. I’d also love to write a prequel/sequel for Dollhouse. I have so many ideas for books and it just isn’t possible to write them all!
Learn more about Anya and her books by visiting her website, or by following her on Facebook or Twitter

See the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller List for more top ten e-format authors and their books. It's updated every Saturday morning. Check back next week when my featured author will be G. L. Breedon.

Want a sneak preview of the rest of the authors I'm featuring for the next few weeks? You can sign up HERE to get my newsletter and stay up to date with the blog and my books.