Saturday, September 19, 2015

Kobo Kids & Teens Send David Estes to the Top Ten

On August 7th, Angel Evolution by David Estes hit the number 4 spot in the Kids' & Teen section of the store. Angel Evolution was David's debut novel five years ago, and since then he's written another 24 books! 

As a result, David said, "I would love to participate on your blog by answering some questions, but would much prefer to feature my most popular bestselling book, The Moon Dwellers."  No problem. The Moon Dwellers hit numerous bestsellers lists and was also featured on Buzzfeed as one of 15 Series to Read if you Enjoyed The Hunger Games, among other runaway bestsellers like Divergent, The Maze Runner, and Unwind.

Tell us what your book is about.

The Moon Dwellers is a YA dystopian series about a future where humans are forced underground in order to survive a cataclysmic event that destroys much of the earth’s surface. Fast forward five-hundred years into the future, where a class system rules the underground social and political world. Adele, a member of the middle class, is in prison for her parents’ crimes of treason. Tristan, a member of the upper class and the son of the President of the Tri-Realms, is questioning the fairness of the system in place. When they meet, it has the potential to change everything.

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

With my wife’s encouragement, I started seriously writing about five years ago, when I was working a fulltime job at a major investment manager. I wrote every chance I got, on the ferry ride to and from work, on my lunch break, on the weekend. After having zero success querying literary agents (I literally received a hundred rejection letters), I decided to try out the Indie route, publishing my trilogy as first ebooks and then in paperback on Amazon.

Although sales of that first trilogy have never earned enough to live on (I had A LOT to learn as a writer), I didn’t give up and continued writing, churning out a new book every 2-3 months. In June 2012 I published The Moon Dwellers, publishing each of the six sequels in the series and its sister series every 2-3 months for the next two years. To my utmost surprise, it took off, selling thousands of copies. My wife and I decided to take a risk and quit our day jobs so I could write fulltime with her as my editor as we traveled the world for a couple years.

This time I had a literary agent approach me, because of the success of my series. I signed with her a short time later, and since then I’ve published two new YA trilogies (The Slip Trilogy and Salem’s Revenge) and a six-book Children’s series (The Adventures of Nikki Powergloves). My wife and I are now living our dream in Hawaii, where I continue to write fulltime, growing my readership each and every day.

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

Commitment, motivation, the generosity of others, and lots of luck!

To “make it” in this industry, you have to be committed to writing, first and foremost. I write every single day, always striving to improve and to give my readers the best possible reading experience. I don’t take a single day for granted, knowing all too well that there are thousands of other people who wish they had my job.

You also have to be highly self-motivated. I wake up every morning excited about writing another three to five thousand words on whatever project I happen to be working on. Laziness can set in quite quickly when you don’t have a boss (other than yourself), so I push myself with aggressive publishing deadlines, daily word count goals, and sales goals. Without this motivation, I wouldn’t be able to publish four full-length books a year, nor would I have had nearly the success that I’ve been able to achieve.

At the end of the day, the first two factors don’t mean squat without the generosity of readers and bloggers. I’ve been extremely fortunate to attract a niche group of enthusiastic, kind, and generous readers and bloggers (like you!) who help me get the word out about my books, both new and past. They are the true heroes of my career, and I wouldn’t be participating in this interview without all of you awesome people!

Luck is important too! Although I do believe in the old adage that you make your own luck through hard work and perseverance, I also think there are some things that are just out of your control. I’ve done a lot of things right over the past five years, but I’ve also made a lot of mistakes. Luck has made up the difference and helped get my sales to the next level to allow me to turn my love of writing into a real career. I feel so fortunate each and every day!

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

Honestly, every day when I check my sales, I’m shocked that I’ve sold any books. I’m always wondering how people are discovering my books and who they are! It’s like magic! Word of mouth from my biggest fans is definitely helping the cause, as well as blog-participation opportunities like this one. Also, the article on Buzzfeed has been a huge factor in keeping the momentum going.

Other than all those things, I have two main methods of marketing my books. First, is I consider myself a Goodreads ninja because of how much time I spend on the site. I have an official Goodreads fan group called David Estes Fans and YA Book Lovers Unite (link below) with more than 3,100 awesome members. The group is NOT all about my books. It’s about YA books in general, as well as other random topics like TV, movies, and the world in general. It’s a cool place to hang out and make some new online friends while chatting about books.

Second, is BookBub. BookBub makes up the bulk of my marketing budget. For those who haven’t heard of it, BookBub is a site where readers can sign up for particular genres and receive daily e-mails with amazing details on books within those genres. As a reader, I LOVE it. I find out about books that are on sale for FREE or $0.99 so I can download more books for less money. As an author, it is a godsend. I can advertise (for a fee which is well worth the money, always paying for itself) one of my books each month and reach literally thousands of readers in one hit. I’ve given away more than one hundred thousand free books through BookBub, and sold thousands more. The only difficulty with BookBub, is because of its increasing popularity it’s extremely competitive to get selected by their editors. You have to have a great book with strong sales and many positive reviews. Thankfully, I have a number of books that meet their criteria so they’ve been very good to me.

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 primarily YA, although more than half of my readers are likely adults. I tend to write “crossover” fiction, which essentially hits both the teen and adult markets with action-packed page-turner stories in futuristic worlds of my own invention.

The ebook format works tremendously well for my target market, because most of my readers are tech-savvy and own at least one Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or iPad, and enjoy reading on these kinds of devices. I’m able to offer low-cost (all of my books are less than $5 and many are less than $3), quality books (all of my books have a 4-star rating or above on Amazon with most 4.5-star or above) that are available for immediate download. Without the invention of ebooks and ereaders, I wouldn’t be sitting here today!

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

I’m a morning writer. I generally wake up, have breakfast, and then start writing. I don’t stop until I hit my word count goal (usually between three and five thousand words, depending on the day). I write six days a week. When I finish writing around lunch time, I spend time with my wife, eating, going to the beach, reading, etc. In the evenings I tend to focus on social media, reader interaction, and promotional activities. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Right now I’m working on a new YA series about doppelgangers. It’s an action-packed saga told from six different points of view, and I think it has the potential be another hit!

David says, "I love interacting with readers, and I encourage them to contact me on one of my favorite online hangout spots: my Official Goodreads Fan Group, my Goodreads Author Page, my Facebook Author Page, my Blog or on 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 Kim Culbertson.

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.