Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day 143--Interview With K.W. Foley, Author of Adventures In Kindergarten

Today I'm pleased to welcome fellow author and helpful colleague, K.W. Foley to The Jennifer (Author) Diaries. The following interview offers an insightful discussion on the future of ereaders and Mr. Foley's experiences self-publishing Adventures in Kindergarten. Enjoy!

Jennifer: When did you publish Adventures in Kindergarten and what is it about?
Ken: The book was published on Amazon in mid-January 2012. It is currently in the process of being released on Smashwords to Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, and others. Adventures in Kindergarten is a series of short stories designed to be read aloud to children as an aid to developing skills in listening and imagination, something that television and video games do not do. The stories involve a precocious five and a half year old kindergarten student named Mikey who learns by inserting himself into the story and has a very active imagination.
Jennifer: What inspired you to write for children?

Ken: There has been a huge change in my lifetime in the way we live our lives. Technology has made us much more attuned to the visual, attention spans have decreased and most spoken and written language is now at a sixth grade level or lower (for reference, The Declaration of Independence was written at grade 17, grad school). Some months ago I came across a second grade reader from 1918. As I looked through it, I was amazed at how complex the grammar was a century ago. Today's kids may have much better hand/eye coordination due to the abundance of video games and computers, but yesterday's children were far superior in verbal and writing skills. I wanted to write stories to stimulate imagination and listening skills without using pictures or video, the way they used to be written. As I state in the forward in my book, I do not believe it is coincidence that the dramatic rise in attention deficit disorders (unheard of in my youth) almost precisely parallels the rise in visual media.  

Jennifer: Who did your book cover? Did you hire an editor? Why or why not?

Ken: The book's cover was done by Scooter Graphics, whose web site is on the inside cover of my book (the "look inside" feature on Amazon). "Scooter" Ellis is a retired commercial illustrator of cartoons who now does book covers and other illustrations on a part time basis.
Regarding hiring an editor, I did not. I have a writing partner and we edit each other's work, and it is my feeling that unless there is a close working relationship it is easy for an editor who does not know a writer's style to make or suggest wholesale changes that affect the entire tone of one's book.  Additionally, most good word processors have very good grammar and spell check programs built in which help tremendously. The most helpful technique I've found is to simply put what you've written away for a few days, and then come back to it. Errors in grammar or clarity usually become apparent then.

Jennifer: Do you find it challenging to market a children's ebook when most children don't own ereaders?

Ken: My book is marketed primarily to parents and grandparents who wish to read to their children/grandchildren to help stimulate the development of critical listening and imagination skills. So my target market is actually adults with children in their lives.  However, with ereader prices now less than one month's cable bill, I am seeing more and more children with iPads, and ereaders, a trend that will increase by the tens of millions over the next few years, especially as textbooks migrate to that platform.

Jennifer: What have you done that has successfully increased your online sales?

Ken: To be perfectly honest, in consultation with my writing friend, I purposely did nothing for the first few months just to see what kind of response I could get. Our feeling was that the e-reader phenomenon is fairly recent and we wanted to gauge what kind of activity was there without promotion; in other words, how active were customers in seeking out books. I must say I was pleasantly surprised that I actually sold copies. I am currently working on a marketing plan that would involve targeted advertising, pay per click, etc. I'll be happy to let you know how that works out.

Jennifer: What online sites do you prefer to network with authors, publishers, editors or readers?

Ken: I am a new member of Goodreads, and it appears to have significant traffic and some very avid readers.

Jennifer: What advice would you give aspiring authors about self-publishing?

Ken: Go for it! Do not let others tell you it isn’t "real" writing. It is the future of publishing. 500 years ago, the printing press was first commercialized and it created a revolution in thought and the sharing of ideas. Productivity increased from a few dozen pages copied per day per scribe to thousands per press. There were many in the "establishment" of the times who were against letting the masses have access to so much uncensored, unfiltered work. It turned out pretty well, didn't it? What we are witnessing today with e-publishing is no less significant in my opinion, a global wide sharing of ideas and thought on a level never before seen.

Jennifer: What do you think authors should know about book marketing?

Ken: I think it boils down to knowing how to promote yourself, not selling yourself or your product short, and believing in yourself. Social media like Facebook plays a significant role in getting recognition. It also helps to have a purpose to your writing, to have something to say and be able to articulate that.

Jennifer: Make up your own question and answer it! What does the future hold for e-reader sales?

Ken: I have seen projections by several marketing firms and all are pretty much in agreement that by 2015, ereader sales should reach 55 to 60 million on an annual basis. That means that by 2015 some 200 million ereaders should be in use by customers. That's a lot of potential book sales in case you're wondering.

Jennifer: What projects are you working on now? Please describe.

Ken: Since my education is in business and economics, and my career as a corporate drone was in finance and economics, I'm writing a book about the state of capitalism today, its increasing influence on our national legislative processes and its monopolistic characteristics in the marketplace. The hard part is trying to keep it from being as dry as sawdust. I'm hoping to add a lighter touch to it, so if you hate being your own cashier at the big box grocery store and wonder why gas stations can all change pricing simultaneously without violating antitrust laws, you may like the book.

There is also volume two of Mikey's read to children series in the works called "Adventures in History", a somewhat flexible re-telling of major events in history as seen through the eyes of Mikey, who continues to insert himself into the stories as a major player, if not the actual hero.

K.W. Foley received his degree in Business and Economics from Eastern Illinois University. He writes about a variety of topics. Adventures in Kindergarten is his first book of children’s stories.  He is a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam conflict, a musician of questionable talent, and, nearing six decades, living proof that an active imagination can truly last a lifetime.