Is Kid Lit Behind the eCurve? / Blog Hop

waveIt’s no secret that mysteries, thrillers, and romance novels are exploding in ebook form. But the great wave of digital kid lit readers has yet to reach the shore.

Three years ago, I found out my daughter’s school was going to allow kids to bring ereaders to class. I was ecstatic! As a children’s book writer who’d recently taken the indie plunge, I felt like my potential audience was about to double or triple. Well, it didn’t. All those Kindles, iPads and phones kids are bringing to class? They’re using them as calculators, handy research tools, cameras…anything but an ereader. And at home? App-city, baby.

And then there’s the challenge of being an indie author. Parents are willing to take a chance on self-pubbed books for themselves, but they are much more careful with what their children read. And I can’t blame them. Call me elitist, but if the author hasn’t been vetted by “the system,” I’m going to have to vet them myself (and who has the time?). I’ve read too many reviews of indie middle grade books where the main characters cuss (?!?). Is the system perfect? No, not by a long shot. Are there some really awesome indie books out there? You betcha. But it’s another hurdle to jump.

But don’t think my daughter doesn’t read. She DEVOURS books. It’s just that 90% of them are physical. Still. Even though her mother writes ebooks. Hmmm… Kids are the most tech-savvy people on the planet. Ask any six year old, and I’ll bet they can reprogram your phone. But read a book on that thing? Nah. I know, I know…there ARE kids who read on ereaders–especially if all they have is an old school Kindle that can’t access the internet. But numbers don’t lie. One look at Hugh Howey’s author earnings report and that measly 3% tells you everything you need to know. (scroll down and look at the first pie chart)

So last year, I sat on that dry, dry beach, waiting for the wave that never came. It was then that I decided to reinvent myself as a mystery writer for adults, despite my great interest in kid lit. There’s a market for adult mysteries. Readers are ready and waiting for material. New waves are available daily.

Oh, I still write children’s books. I just released a picture book last month (The Easter Hound) and I’m noodling around with Doom & Gloom Book 2. But it’s a labor of love, not something I do to, you know, make money. Will I ever quit writing kid books? Yes, when I run out of ideas, which will happen…never.

Now! Since this post is a part of a blog hop, I need to answer four questions about my writing process, after which I will introduce you to three great authors. Vivian Kirkfield was kind enough to invite me along for the hop. You should definitely go check out her site when you have the time. She has lots of great advice for writers and the occasional giveaway.

What am I working on now?

I am outlining my next adult mystery, The Black Cats (Book 2 in the Cattarina Mystery series). As for my “kid project,” I am half-way through illustrating a zany chapter book I wrote a few years ago. I hope to release both in time for summer reading.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

My work tends to be outside the mainstream. So if you’re looking for something a little off-beat, you’ve come to the right place. When I bring a new project to my critique group, they normally say, “How on earth did you come up with THAT idea?” (they mean this in the best way possible…I think) Anyway, my books are full of characters who doubt themselves, who question convention, who reach higher, and who sometimes succeed. There are no easy answers in my books.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I can’t, just CAN’T, write what everyone else is writing. If it’s already been done, why do it again?

How does my writing process work?

For novels, I have to think about them for weeks before I begin writing, mull them over, hash them out. I like to have a solid direction before I even start page one. Letting the plot germinate helps me immensely. For picture books, I wait for inspiration to strike and get them down on paper when they arrive in a flash. This usually happens two or three times a year, and always when I’m doing something completely removed from writing.

Now! Let me introduce you to three awesome kid lit authors you should definitely check out. Two have physical books available and one has eComics for kids.

Dee Leone – Dee Leone enjoys writing fiction, non-fiction, and silly verse. She has written several reproducible books for the educational market, covering themes such as science, language arts, and holidays. The author taught at the elementary level in several states and was also a gifted program aide. Her interests include amateur photography, traveling, and scrapbooking.She also enjoys devouring books and chocolate. Her leveled reader, Bizz and Buzz Make Honey Buns (Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin) has a June 26, 2014 release date and is available for pre-order. Free worksheets can be found on Dee’s website.

Dp1240930for original B&B screenshot
Website: deeleone.com
Book Website:  bizzandbuzz.weebly.com
Twitter: @DeeLeone3

DeeDee Andrews – DeeDee Andrews worked for many years in Marketing and Graphic Design for a manufacturing company.   She created catalogs and advertisements that made industrial widgets and gizmos look cool. Through marketing she was given the opportunity to travel the world. Eventually DeeDee married and became the mother of twin boys. After their twins had too much fun in first grade and didn’t learn anything, DeeDee and her husband decided to home-school. During that 7 year home-schooling period the “Domino Park Comics” were born. Drawing on a life time love of comic books and newspaper comic strips, and DeeDee’s Graphic Design background, she drew comic strips to encourage her kids to read. She began her blog in January 2014 and feels she is still in the process on introducing herself. Her house is filling with crazy sketches and scraps of paper with wonderful ideas for the blogs and books. The fun is just beginning. Her comic books are available at Amazon, here and here.

deedee Author Photo

Ellen Rothberg – Ellen Rothberg spends most of her days as an elementary school guidance counselor in Sugar Land, Texas, which affords her the opportunity to gain insight into what makes today’s kids tick. Along with that knowledge comes the irresistible urge to share the funny and sometimes prophetic things they do.  By fictionalizing their best traits (and some of their not-so-best traits), she often creates works that entertain and teach at the same time. Her works of fiction include the Sue Ellen series of picture books, Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets, Hayfest, A Holiday Quest, and Bully in the Barnyard, all written with co-author, Ellen Leventhal. The Ellens are currently working on a middle grade chapter book that, again, invites a glimpse into a child’s very humorous attempts to make  his world a better place.
You can buy their books here.
Stop by the Ellens’ website at http://www.E2books.com or visit E2 Books on Facebook.

 

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If your kid lit books are catching fire on Amazon, please write a comment and let me know the secret to your success. I’d love to be wrong, especially about something like this! OR, if you tend to agree with me, tell me about your experiences.
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11 thoughts on “Is Kid Lit Behind the eCurve? / Blog Hop

  1. So, in Kid Lit. being strictly ebooks is not a great approach. Amazon also has publish to print from CreateSpace. Has anyone tried that, yet? Is that a viable way to make physical books available on Amazon?

  2. I know two very wise women (one of whom is Ellen Rothberg) who do very well for themselves hand-selling their physical books. IMHO, you have to price hard copies too high in order for them to be competitive on sites like Amazon. So what’s a modern author to do? Book events, speaking engagements, etc. and sell them in person. That being said, I do have my middle grade in a physical copy through Create Space and it looks like something you’d find on the shelves of B&N. Very high quality. I would recommend them. But I see physical copies less as a way to make “tons of money” and more as a personal introduction to my writing. And they’re great to send to reviewers, libraries, etc.

  3. I am so behind the curve that I haven’t done ebooks yet, but as you said we’ve done well selling physical books (yes, I am one of those wise women). However, you are right, when a traditional publisher paid for everything, and we bought them from the publisher, it was great. But now, I only get a few dollars for each book if I figure in what I paid to have them printed. And then there’s the shipping costs. However, that being said, for me, school visits are the way to go. I have months where I do very well, and months when I make nothing. Yep….zip, zilch, zero. And it’s really hard work to get out there and market the books. I completely agree with what you’re saying about the e books for kids. I think it will catch on, but in most schools I visit as an author or a teacher, kids are still reading physical books. But they certainly are on those devices for something! I think I will poll my students tomorrow when I go to work. I’ll get back to you! 🙂

  4. Really helpful to come across this discussion. I’m a new author with a book I think will do well with the 9-12 age group but wondering if traditional publishing or self-pub is the best way to go. I reviewed the Author Earnings Report and could see that kid lit skewed away from the overall trend, but it also seems like I’ll have to do the same work — self-promotion, setting up my own tours — and won’t see as much of the cut if I go with a traditional publisher (yes, assuming I would get one). Thoughts from those who’ve walked this road before?

    • I saw your comment last night and have been thinking about it awhile. Honestly, if I were just starting out in the biz with a romance book, I would go straight to self-publishing. Absolutely no doubt. But if I were just starting out with a middle grade? I think I would give traditional a try. You could give yourself a timeframe of, say, six months, to find either an agent or an editor, and if that fails, you can self publish.

      Another thing to consider… If your book is meant to be part of a series or if you plan on releasing many books that are closely tied in sub-genre (and you write quickly), then indie publishing might not be a bad choice. Some people are killing it with their indie MG series. But if your MG book is a one-off and/or you write slowly, seriously think about the traditionally route as a first alternative.

      The last reasons to look at traditional: 1. If you don’t, you might always wonder “what if” and 2. Since you’re a new writer, you may actually stack up a few helpful rejections that will suggest changes to increase the salability of your work (to readers, to editors, to agents, etc.). Or if the rejections are form letters, you know you’ve got to work on your opening.

      But if you do go the indie route first (it’s tempting, isn’t it?), hire an editor and a proofreader and even a cover artist if necessary. If you’re going to go for it, go for it all the way and put out the best product you can. I eventually took the indie route with Doom & Gloom, but it was a long, convoluted path that meandered for awhile through the traditional system. (long story, don’t ask)

      In the end, only you can decide what’s best. So don’t take what I’ve said as gospel! You’ve certainly got a hard choice to make. Sleep on it. Ask friends. Roll some dice. And just remember, no matter what happens with this book, you can always write another.

      Good luck!
      Monica

      P.S. – Indie or traditional, you will have to be unrelenting in the marketing of the book. 🙂 So get ready.

    • I think Monica is spot-on. I think trying to navigate the traditional route is an excellent way to mature as a writer and self-promoter. Like Monica, I am an indie author that has been through the traditional route. The lessons I learned trying to get traditionally published were important lessons. And also helped my writing have time to mature as well.

      Being an indie author takes a lot of time away from the writing trade and also calls on another skill set–unbelievable amount of different skills. There isn’t an easy way to do it. Both require time, dedication and a lot of self-promotion.

      Good luck!

    • Mandy,

      I think Monica’s advice is extremely insightful.

      For MG and younger, I would definitely try the traditional route first. For those levels, e-books don’t seem to be as profitable as YA, romance, etc.

      If you only have one book, you can try to get an agent first, which will cost you nothing, since most only take email submissions. If you have several books you’ve written, you need to consider the fact that your submissions from the agent to publishers will be lined up, as an agent will usually only submit one work at a time.

      You can submit directly to publishers, which will cost you a few dollars in postage and about a year of waiting for replies. If you get an offer, working with editors can be helpful and fun. I love my editors at Grosset & Dunlap, and I am still in contact with my retired editor that I had for my reproducible books. She is such an awesome person!

      Not knowing whether your writing is more of a hobby or is needed to help put food on the table, it is hard to give definitive advice, so ultimately, you need to go with your heart and your circumstances. Either way you go, it will require time and marketing.

      I hope that helps.

      Dee Leone, Author
      Bizz & Buzz Make Honey Buns, June 26, 2014

      • Thank you to all of you for your very helpful comments, you have given me a lot to think on and I really appreciate the feedback!

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