Saturday, January 31, 2015

Kindle Teens Give HOUSE OF KORBA a Home in the Top Ten

House of Korba by C. L. Stone hit the number 8 spot in the Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store on October 25th. The book is the seventh in The Academy: Ghost Bird Series. 

C. L. describes her genre by saying she writes about "cute boys and uncomfortable situations, usually mixed together."  She joins us today to talk about her book and its e-pub success.

To begin, tell us what your book is about.

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The Academy: Ghost Bird series is about nine cute guys, one shy girl, and a whole lot of awkward. With spies. And chocolate chip pancakes.

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

Spending time getting to know characters in depth right in the beginning, and readers are able to carry those details with them through a series. They know that Luke's favorite color is baby blue, and that Gabriel plays guitar. These are details readers absolutely love, and that carry them as the story continues on.

Other factors were making sure the first book was free. What's the best way to discover an author? Sometimes it is trying their books at the library or borrowing from a friend. Having a free book is no longer difficult to do, because digital media makes it possible for me to share. Once they read, they can decide to continue on. I also try to make it easy to find my books elsewhere. I try to contribute to libraries where possible.

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

A lot of it is due to word of mouth from fans, plus the first book is free, which makes it easy for readers to pick up and try. I sometimes use BookBub to market the free book, and I also publish regularly. I provide new content when I can, and interact with readers on social media, engaging with them and discussing the books and series with them.

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?

Are they enjoying reading more? Comprehension is tricky, because that's really subjective and what one person picks up, another person might not. And people never read the same book. What I mean is, what one person 'sees' when she is reading, another reader might see it in a completely different light, with different people's features, voices, etc. My opinion is if they are reading more, they are enjoying it, and that's a good thing. 

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? 

Print is still a big deal at the moment, but I see ebooks being a good option. How many of us struggled to find space for 'yet another book' we picked up? It's fun, in a way, to juggle all those books, but for some, finding that next book in the bookstore, waiting in line, having that space, it is impossible. Digital makes it easy to buy, easy to read, easy to share.

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

E-format is awesome! A quick click and you're reading. You can carry a library with you on your phone, your e-reader, etc. It isn't whether it is paper or a screen that they have on hand, it's the story they pull from the book. Don't like the book? Delete it. Love the book? Keep it forever without spilling coffee on the pages. Bilbo is still the lovable hobbit, with or without paper and glue, because stories are the heart.
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Learn more about C. L. Stone and her books by visiting her website, or by following her on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads.

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 Jackie Davies.

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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

DEFIANCE by C.J. Redwine is a Top Ten Hit with Nook Teens

Welcome to C. J. Redwine, today's featured author. Her e-book, Defiance, hit the number 9 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store on August 16th. Defiance is the first book of C.J.'s post-apocalyptic fantasy trilogy for young adults.

First, tell us what Defiance is about.

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In a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, a girl commits treason against the brutal leader of her city-state so she can escape into the Wasteland beyond to search for her missing father, but the truth she finds will incite a war two decades in the making.

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

I'm traditionally published through Harper Collins' Balzer + Bray imprint. My first book (DEFIANCE) came out in August of 2012. The entire trilogy (DEFIANCE, DECEPTION, and DELIVERANCE) is now out which is surreal to me! I began writing novels with the intent to pursue publication when I was 30. My first novel will never see the light of day, and you should all thank me for that because HOLY OVER-WRITTEN CLICHE BATGIRL. I wrote another book, and that one landed me my fabulous agent, but it didn't sell. I wrote another book that didn't sell either. Finally, I decided to switch genres and dare to write this huge, compex idea I had, and two weeks after I turned DEFIANCE in to my agent, I sold the trilogy.

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

My publisher gave me an amazing cover, which really is the number one marketing tool for a book, and then right before the final book in the trilogy came out, they put the e-book on sale and publicized that sale through Book Bub and other outlets.

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

Harper Collins publicizes through online ads and to libraries and book stores. I use a newsletter and my presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to build my fan base, though I don't "market" my books through social media. I will announce when a book comes out or is up for pre-order, I sometimes run contests, and I keep my readers up to date on sneak peeks at what I'm working on now etc, but I find that those who use social media like it's a megaphone designed to sell a book inevitably drive followers away. I use social media to be accessible to readers and to build my tribe.

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 three teenagers at home, and only one of them uses a e-reader, and even then, he seems to prefer paper backs. However, I have friends who will try books out on their e-reader and then pass them along to their kids, so I think it depends a lot on which book format the parent gives the child. I believe that the more a kid reads, the more she/he will comprehend.

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 teens and the young-at-heart who enjoy epic fantasy adventures. I find that while my paper back and hard back sales are solid, I sell much better in e-book across the board. I think many of my readers are super busy people, and the convenience of being able to instantly download a book and then download the sequel as soon as they finish reading really helps serve their reading needs.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Was it your idea or your publisher’s? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?

I love e-publishing! My book shelves are full of paper backs and hard backs, but my Nook is also full of e-books. I really love the convenience, the ability to browse while I'm in my pjs in bed, and the ability to pre-order while I'm thinking about it and have the book magically show up when it's released. My publisher automatically releases titles in both e and hard back, so there was no discussion, but I am REALLY happy with having my books out in e-book format. I think my readership is very tech-savvy, and so having books in a format they can easily access is perfect.

As you got into e-publishing, has anything happened that you wouldn’t have predicted?

I didn't expect to sell better in e than in traditional, but that has been a fun eye-opener for me.

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

I write for a couple of hours in the afternoon and for another hour at night most days. (I work from home and have 5 kids ranging in age from 2-16 so my days are hectic and full!) A couple of days a week, I leave home and work from a local coffee shop so that I can get more done.

Right now I'm working on revising THE SHADOW QUEEN, a dark epic fantasy inspired by the Snow White fairy tale, which comes out in early 2016.

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

It definitely helps! It reaches more people in a short amount of time, especially when we have many brick and mortar stores going out of business, leaving communities without a local book store.

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

I think it helps because again, it allows access to books to readers who may not have a local book store, and any time a child or young adult is reading, it's a win.
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Learn more about C.J. and her books by visiting her blog, and by following her on Facebook,  Pinterest Tumblr 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. And check back next week when my featured author will be C. L. Stone.

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.

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. 

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"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.
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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.

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.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

TEN: A Top Ten Hit with Teens in the Nook Store

Today's featured author is Gretchen McNeil. Her e-book, TEN, rose to the top ten in the Barnes and Noble Nook store on September 13th.

TEN is an award winning horror/suspense story. It was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth, and was nominated for "Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012" by Romantic Times. Thanks to Gretchen, we get to hear all about it.

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Gretchen, let's start with what your book is about.

Ten teens trapped on an island with a serial killer. (How's that for short and sweet?)

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


I went the traditional route: wrote a book, failed to get an agent; wrote another book, got and agent, but failed to sell to a publisher; wrote a third book and landed a book deal with my current publisher! That was five books ago, which seems so insane to me. A lot of hard work, a lot of revising, a lot of heartbreak along the way.

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

TEN is a YA novel that appeals to both boy and girl readers, with a gender neutral cover that has really contributed to its success. The book has gotten a lot of love from both independent booksellers and librarians, and I am so grateful for their support.

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?

Not being an educator, I won't comment on reading comprehension levels. But I can say that every royalty statement I see a higher percentage of my sales from ebooks. Ebooks are easier - and cheaper - than most hard copies of books, and I think anything that keeps people reading is a good thing.

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

I write for young adults and it was thought that teens won't take to e-readers as quickly as adults. Wrong! Teens love to have books on iPads, tablets, laptops, and phones. I can't even count how many e-reader cases I've been asked to autograph at signings!

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Learn more about Gretchen and her books at her website and her blog, or by following her on Twitter or Facebook.

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 Richard Farr.

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.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Top Ten for Teens in Two Stores: MY LIFE WITH THE WALTER BOYS by Ali Novak

To start off the new year, author Ali Novak joins us. She wrote My Life with the Walter Boys, which hit the Kids' EBook Bestseller List on September 13th, taking the  #10 spot in the Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store AND the #2 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store.

My Life with the Walter Boys is Ali's debut novel, written when she was only fifteen years old. Let's hear all about her successful launch into the top ten.


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In a few sentences, tell us what your book is about.

My book “My Life with the Walter Boys” is a coming-of-age novel about sixteen-year-old Jackie Howard, who is forced to move from Manhattan to a Colorado cattle ranch. Jackie is terrified when she discovers her new guardian Katherine Walter has twelve sons. Suddenly the prim and proper city girl must fight to fit in to the chaos that is the Walter family.

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

My publishing journey started out with the website Wattpad, the world’s largest online reading and writing community. I wrote my story for fun when I was fifteen, and started uploading it to the website in 2010. At first, there weren’t many people who read my story, but the book suddenly took off when about half the story was posted. All of a sudden I was getting hundreds of reads and comments every day. Today, the Wattpad version of My Life with the Walter Boys has been read more than 40 million times. I never planned on publishing the story, but in 2013 Wattpad formed a partnership with the publishing company Sourcebooks. Since my story was so popular, I was offered a book deal.

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

The top factor that put my book where it is now: my amazing fans from Wattpad, hands down. Without them, I never would have achieved what I have today. They supported me through every step of my writing journey, and continue to cheer for me even though I have made the jump from writing online to publishing traditionally.

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

Currently I am writing full time. I get up early during the week and write until noon, because I work best in the morning when the house is quiet. After that, I usually dedicate my time to social media. Right now, I am working on editing another one of my Wattpad books called The Heartbreakers, which will be published in early 2015.

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

The e-format has only helped me as an author. I have fans from all over the world, and many live in countries where my book is not sold in stores. E-books give me a chance to reach those audiences.
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Learn more about Ali by following her on Wattpad, 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. And check back next week when my featured author will be Gretchen McNeal.

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.