Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Interview with Self-Publisher David Chuka

David Chuka is a fellow children's author on Amazon.  He's been writing for a while now and started selling kids ebooks on Amazon late last year.  It's been really neat seeing his books pop up all over the Kindle Store children's categories.  David is based in the UK, but we won't hold that against him.  I wanted to interview him today to get the perspective of a fellow author selling in the popular children's categories on Amazon.
Thank you David for your time.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself and the books you have published on Amazon?
Thanks for having me on today Joy.  I live in the UK with my wife and our two bambinos – Ruth and Richard.  So far, I've published 8 books to the Kindle store.  Four of those books are part of the series The Fartastic Adventures of Billy and Monster.  The Billy and Monster books are about a six-year old boy who has this imaginary purple friend Monster and they both find themselves in comical situations that kids will find funny.  At the heart of each book is a tender moment between Billy and his dad, where his dad points out the error of his ways and how best to behave in social situations.  The first book was Billy and the Monster who Loved to Fart and I'm currently working on book 5 which is titled Billy and Monster Meet the President.  I have also published 2 Animal books (with more in the pipeline), a rhyming book and a counting book for preschoolers.
What got you into writing and publishing children's books?
Writing and public speaking are things that have always come easy to me.  I've always wanted to write books and have this dream of writing international best-selling three-hundred-plus page novels.  That's a dream I have not abandoned and look forward to accomplishing in the very near future.  I think the frustration of not finding a book on the Kindle store that my daughter could read as a beginner reader was one of the things that led me to become a children's book author.  Can I also add that I am extremely proud to have that title.
How have you published your books?  Did you go through a publishing firm or did you self-publish?
All my children's books are currently published exclusively on the Amazon store and I self-publish them.  However, I have to add that if the opportunity to publish with a traditional publisher came along and the terms were right, I would give serious consideration to following that route.  While the eBook market is exploding and many people consume books via an app on a tablet or Kindle device, the reality is there is still a large chunk of the marketplace who would prefer to have a physical copy of a book in their hands.  It's this sector of the market I would love to reach out to through the distribution channels a traditional publisher possesses.
What has been your experience in selling on Amazon?
My experience on Amazon has been good, particularly with my children's books.  It's been a learning curve knowing what works and what doesn't.  Sometimes it's been very uplifting to see a raft of sales and positive reviews.  On some other days, it's a bit demoralizing when a book you put a lot of time and effort into is not received well by the market.
Do you have your books in the Kindle Select Program for borrowing?  How have you found this program?
I do have all my children's books in [Kindle Select Programme (KSP)] and KSP is a beast I'm coming to grips with.  It seems to be common knowledge that KSP no longer provides the same juice it used to provide in the early days.  By juice I mean a significant bounce in sales once your book has finished its free promotional period and goes back to the 'paid' category on Amazon.  It's been said that in the first few years of KSP's inception, you could do a free promotion on your book over a period of days and expect to make eye-watering sums once it went paid.  These days things have changed and you really have to know what you're doing to achieve anything close to that.  One of my most frustrating experiences was to see one of my books downloaded for FREE almost 3,000 times and then almost next to no sales after it came off the free promotion period.  The sad reality is that the Amazon store is getting saturated as more and more people subscribe to KDP.  But it's not all been doom and gloom.  I have had some very good sales on the back of a promotional period.  It's a wonderful opportunity to get paid for people borrowing your book simply because they belong to the Amazon Prime program.  I have to admit that I look forward to the day when other platforms like Kobo or iBook offer something similar.  It is such a strong incentive to stay with Amazon for self-publishers due to the additional royalty an author gets once his book is borrowed.
Have you published on other online retailers?  How have you found this experience?
I put some of my non-fiction books that were doing pretty well on Amazon on the Kobo platform and in two months did not achieve any sales.  I made the book as cheap as chips but still no sales.  I eventually had to remove these books from Kobo and put them back into the KDP system.  I still feel like I did not give this experiment the support it needed as I just published exclusively on Kobo and I could easily have put the book on iBook, Barnes and Noble and other platforms.
Do you find you have more sales in one territory over another?  In which countries do you sell more of your books?
Most of my sales come from the U.S. and then the U.K.  I get a sprinkling of sales from other markets.
On your blog, you have interviewed a number of authors.  Are you part of an author blog tour?  How have you found this as a resource for marketing your books?
May I first of all use this opportunity to thank you Joy for being one of the featured authors on Author Interview Thursday on my blog.  The whole purpose of the interviews which I conduct on a weekly basis is to have a children's author from any corner of the planet share a bit about themselves, what's working for them, how they handle the hurdles that every author has to inevitably encounter and offer a word of inspiration.  I have participated in one author blog tour and actually will spearhead one in the very near future.  One thing I have noticed from my analytics is that my blog experiences a surge in traffic on Author Interview Thursday.  Hopefully, visitors who come to my site to read the featured author's interview might spend some time checking out the other pages on my blog.
What other avenues have you used for marketing your books?
I have a presence on Twitter and Facebook that I use to reach out to my fans.  I personally prefer Facebook as I'm able to do much more and I understand it better.  I'm slowly getting to grips with Twitter and actually got the answer to a question I struggled with while writing the third Billy and Monster book titled Billy and the Monster who Ate all the Easter Eggs.  I simply put out a tweet that said '#kidlitchat how would you explain moderation to a child?'  Someone actually replied to that tweet with an answer that I used in the book.  I think what has helped is also being on Goodreads, which is a site solely dedicated to talking about books.  I ran a giveaway on there for the first Billy and Monster book and had more than 600 people enter the competition.  I think the fact that I have books in a series also helps, as someone whose read and enjoyed one Billy and Monster book, might be compelled to read the other titles in the series.
I bet your kids love hearing you read to them each day.  How have they influenced your writing?
I love reading bedtime stories, especially on nights when I've downloaded one of my books for the first time to my iPad.  There is an innocence and acceptance of life in young children and it's this innocence I think I've tried to replicate in the Billy and Monster books.  So yes, I do have to admit that they have been an influence.
Any final words for my blog readers David?
Well, I'd like to add that it's been an absolute pleasure to be with you today Joy.  I would like to offer a free gift to your blog readers.  Simply go to my blog at http://www.davidchuka.com, and once you've subscribed to my mailing list by entering your name and email in the top right hand section, I'll send you a FREE coloring and activity book for your loved ones of one of the Billy and Monster books.  I'm a big advocate for bedtime stories and would like to encourage every parent or adult with loved ones to make this a part of their daily routine.  Chief amongst the benefits of doing this is that you get to bond with your children on a deeper level while at the same time letting them know in a subtle way that reading is fun and good.
Thank you David for this interview.  It's always great to get the perspectives of authors from other countries.
You can connect with David Chuka at the following places:


  1. You are welcome any time David!!! I hear you are a busy writer/promoter this month, all the best for your summer adventures!