Saturday, October 31, 2015

HAUNTED by Ophelia Julien: A Top Ten Hit With Kindle Teens

On August 29th, Haunted by Ophelia Julien hit the number 2 spot in the Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store. Fortunately, the next Saturday available when Ophelia finished her interview was today -- Halloween! It's the perfect day to feature her supernatural suspense story. 

First, tell us what your book is about.


Haunted tells the story of Cassie Valentine and Michael Penfield, both of whom are dealing with grief and loss, and who run into each other again when Michael is hired by the bookstore where Cassie works. The bookstore's owner has a Ghost Story Night every Thursday when staff and a few regular customers get together to share a scary story. The book opens when Michael, as the new hire, tells a ghost story, one that involves Cassie, and that accidentally starts the two on investigating the haunting at Cassie's new house, as well as a 30-year old murder. It is the first in the Bridgeton Park Cemetery Series, which features that cemetery in every book.

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

Yes to both parts of both questions! I am traditionally published for two books, Saving Jake and Ghosts of Lake Michigan, and self-published on Amazon for The Bridgeton Park Cemetery Series as well as a short story called Hunting Spirits. I am grateful for the traditional publishers who took a chance on me, but much prefer self-publication at this point.


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

I have a fairy godmother! A very successful writer named Terri Reid took me under her wing and has taught me so much about marketing and the self-publishing business in general. Another fellow writer, Donnie Light, has also done more for my work than I could ever thank him for in one lifetime.


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

Because Terri Reid is so well-known with her readers (international, too!), whenever I put out a book and she lets her readers know about it, my sales get a nice boost. I am on FaceBook and have a website and a blog. I also have an Author Page with Amazon. I know I should be using Twitter more but I am just starting to get around to that!


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?

Wow, I can't speak to that. I don't know if they are reading more and comprehending less. My grandson and I still read the old-fashioned way (library books) but he is also very savvy on the computer. I worry sometimes about so much going online, but a lot of kids I've met at school visits still liked having a print copy of my book to hang onto.


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

I basically write for the YA market, but somehow, the demographic of my audience tends toward women -and some men- in their twenties and up. I haven't figured that out yet! But the e-format is great for them. I sell more e-books than print copies.


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

I was scared to death to try e-publishing and it took a few months and a lot of encouragement from various people to take the plunge. I thought e-publishing meant giving up the idea of ever seeing my book on a shelf or ever becoming a best-seller. I was wrong! My initial thoughts were based on fear of the unknown. Now that I know better, I am thrilled that I did it.


As you got into e-publishing, have you discovered unexpected things?  Has anything happened that you wouldn’t have predicted?

I never would have expected to have the sales I did last weekend from a one-day book promo. Something I never would have predicted: ranking ABOVE Stephen King (one of my all-time heroes) in at least one Amazon category of fiction and holding that rank for several days. Also, having a few hours where my book was outselling Harper Lee. I mean, how does that happen to someone like me??


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

My writing schedule is more chaotic than I would like and I am trying to get that under control. I am currently working on a sequel to Saving Jake that will be a free Kindle download off of my website, while developing the story line for the next (fourth) Bridgeton Park Cemetery Book.


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? Do you think it will ever exceed or replace print publishing?

I believe e-publishing is going to become more popular for children and young adults, but I doubt it will completely replace print publishing. I see too many kids at the library, all ages including the young ones who will be school age in 5 years, and they seem plenty happy with print books. I think that unless the technology develops to make picture books into e-books without sacrificing the experience of holding a brand new and frequently huge picture book in hand, print will still be around. And I'm glad.


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

E-format helps me, definitely. There is a very narrow entryway to the big distributors that feed the big book stores. A small author like me, who is not agent-represented or the protege of a big NY publishing house doesn't stand much of a chance at getting my book into the hands of readers. E-format has opened a new pathway for reaching my audience.


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

I don't know about children, to tell you the truth. I think picture books should be in print and I hope they stay that way. As for young adult readers, I know they'd be fine with e-format. Heck, our local high school has most of the textbooks on e-readers. The kids growing up with the technology are already reading books in e-format.

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

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

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, October 24, 2015

CLARK THE SHARK Swam to the Top Ten for Kids in Two Stores

On Saturday, August 29th Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale hit the number 9 spot in the Kids' section of the Barnes and Noble Nook store AND the number 7 spot in the Kids' section of the iBook store. Bruce is the author and illustrator of dozens of books for kids: picture books, novels and graphic novel. He joins us today to talk about his double top-ten success.

First let's hear what Clark the Shark is about.


Clark is a shark with zing, bang, and BOOM! He zooms through the classroom and is rowdy at recess. Clark loves life — but when his enthusiasm proves too much for his friends, Clark’s teacher, Mrs. Inkydink, helps him figure out how to tone it down.

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

I started self-publishing back in the ‘90s, before digital books, and moved into conventional publishing in 2000 with the debut of my Chet Gecko Mysteries series. Including my self-published work, I’ve now got over 35 books out there, which continues to amaze me.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Was it your idea or your publisher’s?

It was my publisher’s idea, but I was completely on-board. It only makes sense to offer books in different formats.

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


Although I sometimes revise in the mornings, I write every afternoon from lunch until dinner. 4-5 hours is about the limit of my brain freshness. Right now I’m working on the third book of a middle-grade series that debuts next year: The Monstertown Mysteries.

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

I believe the e-format helps authors. What’s most important is the story, not the format — after all, story is story, whether it’s told around the campfire, printed in a book, or appearing on a digital device. So if some kids prefer reading e-books and my work appears in that format, it just helps my tale reach a wider readership. And that’s a good thing.
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Learn more about Bruce and his books by visiting his author website. He also has a separate site for a series he wrote, School for S.P.I.E.S. You can also follow him on Twitter

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

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, October 17, 2015

AMONG THE HIDDEN: A Top Ten Hit With Kids in the iBookstore

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix hit the number 7 spot in the Kid's section of the iBook store on August 22nd. It's the first book in the seven-book Shadow Children series. Margaret is a New York Times bestselling author of over 30 books, many of which are award winning. 

First, please tell us what Among the Hidden is about.


Twelve-year-old Luke Garner is growing up in a society where third children are illegal—and he is a third child. So he’s had to hide for his entire life. This becomes much more challenging when a new housing development is built behind his family’s home. Then Luke glimpses another kid’s face in what should be an empty house. Could there be another illegal third child living nearby? Could Luke possibly find the courage to go and meet this other child?

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

AMONG THE HIDDEN came out in 1998, when there weren’t many choices but traditional publishing.

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

I’m a little too close to the book to analyze that myself, but readers tell me that they feel very strongly about Luke and his situation; they develop a lot of empathy for him. I hear from many kids who love the adventure of both AMONG THE HIDDEN and the rest of the books in the Shadow Children series. I also hear from readers who see parallels between Luke’s dilemmas and the ones they themselves face because they have to hide something important about their own identities.

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 it’s possible for both of those things to be true. I read both print and e-books myself, and I do feel as though I remember more about what I read on paper. But maybe that has to do with the fact that e-books weren’t available when I was a kid, when my “reading brain” was developing. I’m guessing it will take another generation or so before we have enough data to truly understand what’s going on, and even then things will be constantly evolving and changing. It’s a little scary to think of doing such a massive experiment on human literacy, and I worry when I see studies hinting that brain development and attention spans in very young children may be harmed by constant exposure to electronic devices, for reading and otherwise. I would like to see all kids, everywhere, get the delight in reading that I had as a kid. But I also have hope that, used properly, e-books can play a role in that goal. It’s amazing to think of all the phenomenal works of literature that anyone can have, anywhere in the world, with an e-device and an internet connection and, say, a digital library card.

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

I first heard of e-publishing when I sold my very first book in the mid-1990s, and my book contract (as well as the money I would get for it) was held up for months because of the e-publishing clause. Everyone seemed to know e-books were coming, but nobody seemed quite sure what that meant, so there was a lot of uncertainty about how to word the clause. Eventually I signed a contract that said, essentially, “When e-books become a thing, we’ll work it out together.” For years after that, my agent and I would laugh at the lines on my royalty statements that dealt with my e-book sales, because they were so minimal. And then suddenly—maybe six or eight years ago—the e-book sales weren’t so minimal, and at book events I began having kids asking me to sign their Kindle or Nook cases, not just physical books. It’s been an interesting progression.

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

I write full-time, so when I’m not traveling to talk about my books, I’m usually at my desk. I’m working on two new series that will launch in 2016: UNDER THEIR SKIN comes out January 5; CHILDREN OF EXILE comes out Sept. 13, 2016. Both also deal with kids in unusual situations, trying to figure out their worlds.
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Learn more about Margaret and her books by visiting her website or by following her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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

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, October 10, 2015

THE BANISHED OF MUIRWOOD: Welcomed by Kindle Teens

On August 22nd, The Banished of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler hit the number 8 spot in the Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store. This is the first book in his Covenant of Muirwood fantasy trilogy. It is followed by The Ciphers of Muirwood, which was released in September, and The Void of Muirwood, due for release on October 27th. 

Jeff, first tell us what your book is about.


Maia is a princess of Comoros, with powers that she does not completely comprehend or control. She grows up in a loving family, her father's heir. Then her father decides he wants to divorce her mother, creating turmoil in the family and the kingdom. Her father banishes his recalcitrant wife to Muirwood Abbey, and in a twist on the Cinderella tale, remarries an evil stepmother, who torments and mistreats Maia. Ultimately Maia too is banished and disinherited, and at eighteen finds herself on a quest to learn how to use her powers, which are forbidden to women, to save the kingdom from enemies within and without.

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

My path to publication was quite untraditional and interdependent. How’s that for a confusing answer? I tried the self-publishing route before Kindles were even invented with my first fantasy novels. After writing the original Muirwood trilogy, I decided to self-publish it as well and it was discovered by Amazon Publishing’s 47North imprint who offered me a contract on that trilogy as well as my next (Whispers from Mirrowen). It’s been a great partnership and they’ve continued to take on my other projects, including the new Covenant of Muirwood trilogy. We brainstormed together about accelerating the launch and 47North was a great partner. It’s very untraditional to have a publisher launch three books in three months. But they have pulled it off, much to my reader’s delight!

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

It’s helpful that I have an established fan base that like the kind of stories that I want to tell. I believe the fantasy genre is saturated with dark, gritty stories that push the boundaries. I try to make my stories more reminiscent of the old classics and offer a feeling of hope in a dark world. I’m glad these stories have resonated with so many readers.

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

I was one of the earlier authors to join the Kindle Direct Program and it absolutely made it possible for me to fulfill my dream as a full-time author now. During that process, I also saw that I sold many more copies digitally than in print, so after a while, it was a no-brainer. And it is also how my publisher found me, so no regrets on that front!

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? Do you think it will ever exceed or replace print publishing?

I don’t believe it will replace print publishing in five years, but the trends are absolutely clear. People are shifting to e-books. I still enjoy books in all form factors and probably will, but I have five kids and I’ve seen firsthand how they are embracing new technology.

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

It absolutely helps, no doubt about it. What I love working with Amazon Publishing is I get to see some of the data about my books: print, e-book, and audio versions and the mix. There is clearly a shift to digital reading as more and more people read through their devices (whether it’s a tablet or smartphone). And e-books allow publishers to lower the price which increases sales, so it benefits readers and authors. It’s a win-win.
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Learn more about Jeff and his books by visiting his website, or by following him 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. Check back next week when my featured author will be Margaret Peterson Haddix.

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, October 3, 2015

PATH OF THE CALM: A Top Ten Hit With Kindle Teens

On August 15th, Path of the Calm by Kris A. Hiatt hit the number 4 spot in the Teen section of the Amazon Kindle store. 

When I contacted Kris with the news, he said, "Honestly, I was so caught up with hitting the number one spot for Epic Fantasy, I didn't even realize I reached #4 in Teen." Since then, his book has also hit number one in the Sword & Sorcery and the Coming of Age Fantasy categories. 

First, Kris, let's hear what Path of the Calm is about.


The young world of Onneron has known peace for years. But now unease has spread across the land as disagreements between factions threaten each other’s way of life.

The Brothers of the Onneron College dedicate themselves to higher learning and to mastering Paths of magic. They wish to remain independent, but the Onneron Church feels threatened by their ability to heal and vies to take control of their order.

Treace, bullied and belittled, is unaware of the plan his deceased father has for him. A mentor sets him upon a path to join the prestigious College. Even if he is accepted, the tides of change are coming.

To Treace it’s not about where we end up, it’s the Paths we take to get there that matters.

Path of The Calm is the first book in the epic series Saga of The Wolf that follows Treace as he grows into a young man. It explores the bonds of friendship, deception, life lessons, love, swordplay, and magic.

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


I've been very fortunate to have a great many great friends and co-workers share my posts on social media in order to gain more attention to the book. I wouldn't be where I am today if it were not for social media. It got the ball rolling and then when I was selected as a BookBub deal that ran on Aug 14th, it really drove sales for the weekend.

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

I believe e-format helps authors. It's all about choice. Some people prefer to read digital versions of books, others prefer physical copies. Choice helps both the author and the reader. Some people (like me) have bookshelves lined with books I've read. It takes up space. E-format isn't like that. It's not taking up physical space and, usually, you can't lose the e-book! I think people will still continue to buy physical copies, but digital is the way of the future.

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


When I first starting writing Path of The Calm, I knew I wanted an all ages story that didn't cater to a specific age range. I didn't really enjoy reading fantasy until I was an adult, but young adults have such vivid imaginations I didn't want to exclude them. But I also wanted the story to still hit home with adults. The e-format is growing so quickly. You have many young adults that prefer to read digital copies of books rather than physical. There will be the exceptions who will want a physical copy to hold onto, but I think a majority prefer digital content. My teenager has a few physical copies, but she reads a LOT more e-format than anything else.

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

Path of The Calm is my debut novel, and I attempted to go the traditional route, but I didn't get any takers on my manuscript. After doing some research, I decided I didn't want to keep shopping my manuscript and wasn't going to let the rejection letters get to me. So I self-published and I don't regret it for one second! I published Path of The Calm on May 5th, 2015.

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

I still work a full-time job, so I write when I can, but it isn't as often as I'd like. The stories are in my head, I just need the time to put them on paper. Well, in the word processor, but you get the idea.

I'm currently working on book 2 in the series, Path of Tears.
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Learn more about Kris and his books by visiting his website or his FaceBook page.

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 Jeff Wheeler.

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.