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Are midgrade chapter ebooks something with legs?

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I've recently finished writing a mid-grade chapter book featuring a kitten in a circus museum. While I'm starting the lengthy process of shopping it to agents and traditional publishers, I've also contemplated self-publishing an ebook version. (I've self-pubbed all my earlier books.) Any thoughts on whether there is a genuine market for midgrade ebooks, or whether the hard copies drive the ebooks?
#1 - January 05, 2016, 08:06 AM

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If you were to self-publish an ebook version, it will be very, very unlikely that you'll be able to interest an agent or publisher in it--they generally want all rights to be available. If you truly want to query agents with this book, do not self-publish it.

That being said, from everything I've heard the MG ebook market is very weak, unfortunately, for a variety of reasons.
#2 - January 05, 2016, 09:22 AM
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Agreeing with Marissa. It's very hard to market e-books below the age of YA.

Also, is it MG *or* a chapter book? The two are not the same.
#3 - January 05, 2016, 09:28 AM
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Do you mean middle grade, or do you mean chapter book, because they are two different things. That said, I don't think either one does much as an eBook, though MG maybe slightly better? But i think MG and CB do best when they are in libraries, schools, and bookstores. SP books have a hard time accessing those channels.
#4 - January 05, 2016, 09:30 AM
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:xposted with mrh
#5 - January 05, 2016, 10:06 AM
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I've heard tale of some folks who have self-published ebooks and print copies, and afterward traditional publishers have picked it up.

The latest story I heard about: http://www.today.com/parents/best-selling-childrens-book-claims-put-your-kids-sleep-minutes-t39236
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/67952-rh-children-s-buys-self-pubbed-phenom-rabbit-who-wants-to-fall-asleep.html

But I'd dare say this is a rare thing.

My advice to you is to make sure you have written the very best book you can write before trying to publish at all.
#6 - January 05, 2016, 10:51 AM

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I would stress too that this is rare. These few books, in a sense, win the lottery. The fact that this happens every once in a while doesn't make it a solid business plan.

Also, the example book is a picture book, and it has apparently met a perceived parental need and likely received huge word-of-mouth. Most fiction doesn't meet a non-fiction need in readers' lives.
#7 - January 05, 2016, 11:03 AM
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Yes, this is very rare. My agent was doing a pubtalktv episode a few weeks back and there have been cases when something was sitting in agents (not hers but stories she has heard of) inboxes for a while, the author got antsy, self pubbed only to later discover the agent loved the book when they got to it and wanted to offer rep. They both were disappointed in the end.

My advice, choose which direction you want to take you book and go that way. You can't do both.

Also agreed that ebooks work well for YA but not so much in MG, CB, or PBs. They are a good additional tool to have (as in you have a hard copy book an your publisher releases and ebook, too) but not as the only outlet.

My last advice is to be patient. The publishing world moves very slowly. As Dionna said, write the best book you can possibly write and make a wise, thought out decision on what direction you want to go from there.

Best of luck to you!!  :star2 :star2
#8 - January 05, 2016, 12:05 PM
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regarding the rabbit book:

It sold 80,000+ copies in self-published paperback in the space of less than one month. That's why it was picked up by Random House.

I hate to break it to you, but that was a bolt of lightning that you aren't going to catch in a bottle!
#9 - January 05, 2016, 06:14 PM
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regarding the rabbit book:

It sold 80,000+ copies in self-published paperback in the space of less than one month. That's why it was picked up by Random House

It sure was an interesting storm to watch! But I said to myself, as I watched the lightning flash, Self, if you had wrote the same book,  you would've sold 10 copies. Be happy for the rabbit, but don't even try hopping like one.  :whitebunny
#10 - January 05, 2016, 07:03 PM

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Adults often buy YA ebooks to read themselves.

Comparatively, teens rarely buy ebooks to read themselves, and I would bet that the 12-and-under crowd buys ebooks even less than rarely. :-)

Then we loop back to picture books, which I think adults sometimes buy as ebooks to entertain their kids on screens on long car trips, etc.

*Yes, all my knowledge here is anecdotal based on my work as a YA Librarian and self-pubbed YA author, FWIW. ;-)

All that to say, I think 99.9% of all of us would have a very hard time selling ebook copies of a chapter book or MG novel.
#11 - January 05, 2016, 07:14 PM
« Last Edit: January 05, 2016, 07:16 PM by dinalapomy101 »
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I know this thread is a few weeks old, but thought I'd weigh in anyway.

My MG ebooks do okay. Not sure what you consider as "having legs" but I think I've moved something like 3000 copies of my bunny books since September 2014. Not quite 80,000 copies, but not nothing either. ::-)

So while I agree with everyone else that if you're looking to query agents, don't self-publish unless you've exhausted that route. But don't discount self-publishing. ;)

Hope that helps!

Rue
#12 - January 28, 2016, 10:14 PM
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The middle grade ebook market is weak...today. But if you look at the devices sold, more and more are designed with younger readers in mind. I suspect this is the next boom in the ebook market. Timing it, however, will be much like timing any market. If you can't place the book, it can't hurt to self-publish.
#13 - January 29, 2016, 03:49 PM
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Well I've never had a middle novel run away from me before, so I'm not sure.

In all seriousness, I hope it doesn't just become big but has consistent sales.
#14 - March 08, 2016, 03:20 PM

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