Is Kindle Singles Right for My Middle Grade Mystery?


Dear Editor…

What do you think about selling a middle grade mystery on Kindle Singles? I’m not sure how one finds buyers after putting it on there. Also would an agent consider looking at it if it was on Kindle Singles?

M.G. Mystery Writer

Dear M.G. Mystery Writer…

The Kindle Singles program, which showcases 5,000- to 30,000-word ebooks, is a great way to distinguish writings that are less than novella length. Readers have expectations, and to get a slim book when you thought you bought a full novel can be frustrating. At the moment, KS guidelines exclude “children’s books”—yet KS pubbed bestselling R.J. Palacio’s WONDER-based short story. If KS won’t take your MG, you can publish it as a regular ebook, being clear about the length in your description and using a lower price point. Your concerns about discoverability are legit, as they are for any MG writer since COPPA limits our ability to engage young readers online. Your social media promo efforts will target parents, adult MG readers, teachers, and librarians to get them chin-wagging. Consider waiting to pub your short-length project until you have 2 or 3 titles; a series or body of work has a larger promo footprint. Self-pubbing it won’t affect agents’ decisions unless the ebook is poor quality.

Happy writing!
The Editor

The State of Picture Book Ebooks


Dear Editor…

Thanks for your help with all our questions! I am a little wary of e-publication, since I have been going the other route. I would like to know the success or state of e-books vs traditional publishing. Is it a viable option for picture book authors? I’d really like to know how well e-books, and apps are doing, and whether or not e-books are gaining popularity and sales.

Thank you!

Dear Lisa…

Resist being a Nervous Nellie during this publishing revolution. View e-publication not as a usurper but as an additional tool in our publishing belt. One picture book sales VP put it to me this way: “Look, we’ve been given another format—that’s a good thing.” Overall, ebook sales are still rising, but in recent months that rise has slowed. Specific “children’s books” sales reports lump picture books in with novels like The Hunger Games, so specific numbers are hard to come by, but few would argue that digital will become the dominant format for picture books anytime soon—the major reason being that too much of the unique reading experience is lost in the transition from bound book to screen. (I mourn trim size distinctions: a bold 10×10 book reads differently than an intimate 8×10, a distinction that’s neutralized in a one-screen-fits-all reading device.) But some readers want digital picture books, and we should give it to them. Self-published picture book authors who can handle the expense and distribution should sell both hard copies and digital. Book-specific apps aren’t worth your money or effort yet. Easily $10,000 a pop, picture book apps are for bestsellers and branded characters—as bonus items, not marketing tools. Apps don’t sell books because, due to discoverability issues, readers must know about an app to look for it, meaning publishers must market the apps with resources better spent directly on the book.

Happy writing!
The Editor