Saturday, September 26, 2015

CATCH A FALLING STAR: A Top Ten Hit with Nook Teens

On August 8th Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson hit the number 5 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store. This book is her third YA novel, and she's working on her fourth, due out in the winter of 2016.

Let's start with hearing what 
Catch a Falling Star is about.

Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is exactly the way Carter Moon likes it. She wants to work at her parents' cafe, stargaze with her friends, and NOT think about her future after high school ends. When Hollywood comes to town to film a Christmas movie (in the summer!), her easy, quiet world is thrown off when she meets Adam Jakes, a Hollywood teen star with a troubled past, and agrees to help him with a publicity stunt. As Jessi Kirby wrote, "Catch a Falling Star shines with insight about the choices we make and the worlds we create."

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


I've had an interesting publishing experience. My first YA novel was published by a wonderful small press Hip Pocket Press in 2007 and was then reissued by Sourcebooks in 2010 after they bought my second YA novel Instructions for a Broken Heart, which won the 2012 Northern California Book Award for YA fiction. After that, I wrote a novella -- The Liberation of Max McTrue -- but my agent and I couldn't find the right publisher for it so we decided I should publish it on my own as an eBook. After that, my agent sold Catch a Falling Star to Scholastic and then they offered me a contract for two more books. My second YA novel for them The Possibility of Now will come out in January 2016 and I'm currently working on a third YA novel for Scholastic. I have really enjoyed the traditional publishing process but it was fun to put Max out on my own. I do prefer the traditional path, mostly because I am so grateful for the team around me helping get the book out into the world, but I think each specific book project lends itself to a certain path.

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

Oh, the success of Catch a Falling Star rests firmly with Scholastic and all the wonderful book-genies over there. They are, quite simply, amazing and tireless in their efforts to get books into the hands of readers. I am so grateful to 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?

I am no expert on this subject, for sure, but I've been a high school teacher for 18 years and what I see is this: students who gravitate toward technology, who love to interface with a screen, are much more enthusiastic about reading when it's on a screen. Students who gravitate toward books naturally, who love to read and love the tactile feel of the pages turning, mostly choose paper books. For me, I care about whatever gets them engaging with a story -- audio, screen, paper pages -- a napkin! I'm a fan of students marinating in stories and so I'm a fan of whatever gets them to do that.

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

Sometimes people say, "Oh, you write for girls," which makes me slightly bonkers because I write coming of age stories, I write about characters exploring their right place in the world and asking questions about next steps. I don't think of my books as only being "for girls" -- most of them happen to have a female main character but then is Catcher in the Rye only "for boys" because it has a male protagonist?! Of course not. But I do think that the eMarket for whatever cultural reasons are at play has allowed boys to feel more comfortable reading my books. I had one boy tell me sort of shyly that he loves my books but is glad, "I can read it on my Kindle so no one knows I'm reading a 'girl' book." We have a long way to go on that front, but I'm glad the eMarket is allowing for people to just read what they want to read without feeling like people are judging them by the book's cover.

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

I love that books are available in so many different formats. I applaud anything that is getting a story into a readers hands. 
_____________________

Learn more about Kim and her books by visiting her website, or by following her on Twitter or Instragram.

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 Kris A. Hiatt.

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, 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 Kobo.com 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 Goodreads.com. 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.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

THE VANISHING OF KATHARINA LINDEN: Top Ten for Teens in Two Stores!

On August 1st,  The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant hit the number 7 spot in the Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store AND the number 2 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble Nook Store. This is Helen's first novel and she  joins us today to talk about her successful e-publishing experience. 

First, let's hear about your book. What is it about?

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden: In the quaint little German town of Bad M√ľnstereifel, children are disappearing. Ten year old Pia Kolvenbach and her friend Stefan love to listen to scary local legends told by the aged Herr Schiller. Inspired by these stories, they think that there must be a supernatural explanation for the disappearances. They decide to investigate, not realising that they are bringing themselves ever closer to a very real danger...

Tell us about your path to publication: Traditional or independent?

I've mixed and matched. My YA novels are traditionally published in print and ebook format. I also write ghost stories for grown-ups, and those have mostly been published by small independent publishers.

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

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden came out in the US in 2010 and had some great reviews in the press, so I guess the title would be known to quite a lot of people, and then recently it's been heavily price promoted so maybe readers who have wondered whether it might be for them have decided to take the plunge! The book also won an ALA Alex Award, which was wonderful and hopefully encouraged people to read it.

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

Twitter is very important to me. I tweet as @helengrantsays The recent promotions on my book were on Twitter and it's a great way to spread the word. People see a bargain and retweet it; word gets around. I think it's a successful way of marketing something because it doesn't require a big commitment from readers to follow or retweet, so they are more likely to do that. However, I think a presence on Twitter or any other social media has to be more than just selling! I personally don't like it if I follow someone and they only ever tweet their reviews etc. I think Twitter is a great way for a writer to show a bit more of themselves, their interests, their way of looking at life, maybe writing tips too.

As well as Twitter, I have a website with my blog on it. 

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 think if it's true that children comprehend less of what they read, it's not the fault of e-books. It's more likely to be the distraction of so many other forms of media now available. There are vlogs about science now, for example, and before these came along, maybe the only place that information was available was in books. I can't help thinking that e-books are a good thing if it means a child can get their hands on a book quickly and at an affordable price. I think I'd still give a very young child an actual book though, because when my kids were babies they used to chew their books!!

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

I try to be really disciplined about writing - I set myself a word target for the week and if I have written it by Thursday then I allow myself to take Friday off! That's the theory, anyway. In practice I usually end up writing on Friday too... 

At the moment I'm working on a book set in Scotland, where I live now. Like my other books, it has mystery elements and I try to make the most of the amazing location.

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

I think it helps them. My daughter is a young adult and she is a really voracious reader. She does like to have print copies of favourite books, but she recently got her first e-reader and she's been thrilled that a lot of the titles she wants to read are a bit more affordable in e-format. That's important for someone with a limited budget. It's quick, too. We live in a small town with no bookshop. My daughter doesn't drive yet so if she wants a particular book today, right now, the quickest and easiest way for her to get it is as an e-book.
_________________________

Learn more about Helen Grant and her books by checking out the links she provided above to her website, blog and 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 David Estes.

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, September 5, 2015

The Socket Greeny Saga: A Cyberpunk Trilogy in the Top Ten for Kindle Teens

Today's featured author is Tony Bertauski. He wrote The Socket Greeny Saga, which hit the number 7 spot in the Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store on June 26th. The saga edition contains the entire Socket Greeny trilogy (Discovery, Training, and Legend). Tony's stories are science fiction, specifically cyberpunk. Let's hear all about his top ten success!

Tell us what The Socket Greeny Saga is about.

Socket Greeny is a white-haired outlier teenager that frequently wonders what life is all about. He soon discovers he's part of a technologically-advanced race of humans. While they protect the planet, he'll be asked to save the universe.

Tell us about your path to publication: Traditional or independent?

I started out as a technical writer, authoring textbooks and newspaper columns. I never planned to write fiction. But then I started writing stories with my kids and I caught the fever. I tried the traditional route but soon grew weary. Indie publishing is a perfect vehicle for me because I enjoy all the aspects of formatting, marketing and social media as well as writing. And I can do it part-time because I'm not about to quit my teaching gig.

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

Patience, time and editing. Those are essential. But without the desire, none of that matters. I really connect with my stories and characters. I don't know if that's by chance or something I cultivated, but I enjoy the process of writing as much as anything.

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

It's a slow build. I was active on Goodreads early on, but the indie pool has gotten very crowded. Nowadays, a Bookbub advert will move several thousand copies. If the story is good, it'll catch on. I'm also learning how to market on Facebook.

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 don't know if it's much different than when I was a kid (I'm 48). I had very few friends that read fiction. Harry Potter put reading back in vogue and I think it's continued with things like Maze Runner and Divergent. I volunteered at YA bookfest (YAllfest in Charleston, SC) and there were kids standing in long lines reading books. The paper kind.

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

I'm all over the map. Some of my series are YA, teen or adult. There is a lot of cross over. I don't write anything sexually explicit, but the cuss words vary. And ebooks are here to stay. I move very few paper books.

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

e-publishing got a bad rap early on because there wasn't a vehicle. Amazon, for the most part, changed all that. Now that everyone has a smart phone and likely a tablet, anyone can read at anytime. I love that I can pull out my phone and start reading my book if I get stuck in a long line at the DMV. And I know people that swear they have to feel the paper when they read. But many of them are converted when they try an ebook. It's just too convenient.

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

I do most of my writing before noon. I'm finishing the third novel in my Halfskin series (science fiction). Aside from cuss words, it's similar to other works I've written. I'll be taking a bit of a break to focus on marketing for a month or so before returning to my Claus series, a retelling of holiday characters in a science fiction genre.

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? 

It'll never completely replace paperbacks. We'll always have libraries and bookstores, but ebooks are here to stay.

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

I couldn't possibly reach fans with paperbacks the way I can with ebooks. I send out free copies everyday through email. And I send them all over the world. 
_________________

Learn more about Tony Bertauski and his books by visiting his website, or by following him on 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. Check back next week when my featured author will be Helen Grant.

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.