Joanna Marple is a 12 x 12 in 2012 participant and the author of Snow Games, an ebook published through uTales. Like many picture book authors, I am closely monitoring trends in digital publishing and keeping an eye on platforms available for authors and illustrators. As part of Joanna’s blog tour for Snow Games (congratulations Joanna!), I asked her to tell us a bit about why she chose the uTales platform to publish her story. Please welcome Joanna, and be sure to check the adorable Snow Games!

I am a new picture book author with a desire, along with 1000’s of other talented picture book authors and illustrators, to have my stories out there touching children’s lives.  I am busy writing and revising (rinse and repeat) to have manuscripts submission-ready for that lucky agent just waiting to find me. While optimistically believing in that happy-ever-after ending, I am also a pragmatist, and in considering uTales as an approach in tandem with traditional publishing, I see a win-win situation for myself.

I wanted to become involved with the growing number of families enjoying digital books with their young children. I also wanted to have an opportunity to experience publication and promotion now, knowing that even when that agent finds me, the time between her/him selling my story and it being published, could be, at the minimum, a couple of years. So, why uTales as the digital platform of my choice?

  • Community
  • Editorial control and quality
  • Rights to book retained
  • International focus
  • The founder’s heart
  • Foundational commitment to supporting the charity Pencils of Promise

In short, I would say that uTales is built around a community in ways other platforms are not. We want to be a family of creators, rather than just a digital bookstore. This is a huge joy to me and the best example I can give you of this is The Friendship Alphabet.

Initiated by Swedish illustrator Anders Lindholm, the project saw more than thirty uTalers from fifteen different countries creating together! This is unique and precious! It showcases different storytelling and illustrative styles from all over the world. The creative friendship behind this project was amazing to be part of, and even more gratifying, perhaps, is the fact that all proceeds from this eBook will support Pencils of Promise and their work to build new schools in developing countries. I found my fabulous illustrator for SNOW GAMES, Maja Sereda, from her “O” page for this project. My collaboration with Maja was a pleasure throughout and we hope to work together in the future.

uTales is also very keen on making the books truly excellent stories for kids – and that’s why it stays away from turning the books into games, and is careful about the addition of sound and animation, so as not to detract from the story! uTales values the joint reading experience between parent and child, and welcomes inspirational stories from a great variety of sources. It is working on some unique educational projects including an upcoming book about “Ubuntu” created together with hundreds of students in South Africa and the non-profit The Lalela Project.

I think these examples illustrate how innovative, open, relational and quality -focused the founder, Nils von Heijne, whom I have met personally, is. In all I do in life, I think relationships will always hold the greatest value, thus Nils’ ethos and vision are very important to me, as is his choice of Emma D. Dryden to oversee the Editorial Quality uTales Panel. I have used Emma’s freelance editorial services, drydenbks, so I knew the level of professionalism, publishing experience and care that would go into uTales editorial control. This week Nils held a Google+ hangout to discuss new ideas and I can vouch for his willingness to receive ideas and feedback from all uTalers! We are in this together.

You will probably notice I haven’t mentioned financial gain as a main motivation for selecting uTales. A percentage (of our choosing) of any profit Maja and I make on SNOW GAMES goes to Pencils of Promise and we split the 60% profit equally between us. Have I earned anything? Why, yes! J But I still plan on being part of the work force after the school summer holidays! uTales is a new platform, which launched in November 2011, and I was aware in joining them, that the benefits I have mentioned above would far outweigh any financial gains at this point, though Nils and his team are constantly working on their marketing strategy.

This has been a highly positive experience for me thus far and I encourage readers to join our Facebook uTales Collaborations page, if they are at all interested. Thank you so much for allowing me to share on your blog, Julie.

Other Stops on Joanna’s Snow Games Blog Tour

Wednesday, Mat 16th, Darshana’s Blog, Flowering Minds – Interview

Wednesday, May 23rd – Krista Rausin’s blog, Parenting with a Dash of Inspiration – Multiple Characters in Picture Books

Tuesday, May 29th – Sharon Stanley’s blog, Sharon Stanley Writes – Interview

Tuesday, June 5th – Clarike Bo Jahn, Clarbojahn’s Blog – The Story Behind the Story

Wednesday, June 6th – Diane Tulloch’s blog, The Patient Dreamer – Book Review

Wednesday,  June,13th – Julie Hedlund’s Blog, Why uTales?

Monday, June 18th – Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog – The Process of Submitting a Story to uTales

Wednesday June 27th – Patricia Hilton’s blog, Children’s Books Heal, Book Review

Author Bio: Joanna grew up surrounded by the architecture and awe of the city of Cambridge, UK, and immersed in the books and the landscapes of the Brontes, Tolkein and Beatrix Potter. Her tall tales were not always appreciated as a young child, but her passion for storytelling remained unfettered and was fuelled by the marvelous people and animals she encountered during her humanitarian work across the continents. More recently her years as school librarian in Southern France relit her passion for children’s books. Her stories focus on her love of the natural world and the richness of the cultures she has encountered in her travels. She lives presently in Nice with two quirky cats and a stream of visitors from all over the globe. 


Categories: Apps, Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Guest Blogging, Picture Books, Publishing, Self Publishing, Storybook Apps · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Enjoyed another interview of you and Snow Games, Joanna. Thanks for sharing your reasons for choosing uTales. You’re right, the “o” page is beautiful!

  2. Thank you for explaining your motivation for choosing uTales, Joanna. It sounds like an excellent company to work with and I’m interested in learning more. Your book is beautiful. Good luck!

  3. A wonderful interview, and loved hearing more about uTales from your perspective, Joanna. I am interested in learning more and have checked out the facebook page.

  4. Fascinating post! Thank you for sharing this unique publishing experience. Continued success to you and uTales!

  5. I like everything I am learning about uTales and your experience, Joanna. The whole process is so interesting and I’m enjoying reading more with each blog appearance you make. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Enjoyed the interview. You are a great advocate for uTales. I liked the reasons you chose to publish with them. It’s a way to build your platform, retain your MS rights, and let’s agents see how serious you are. Great interview.

  7. Veeeeeeeery interesting, Joanna. This whole experience appeals to me on many levels, so I’m looking forward to your next stop at Susanna’s blog to hear about the process involved. And I can’t get over how awesome Maja’s work is — I just LOVE IT. That’s the part that would concern me, but am I right in understanding that you choose the illustrator?

    I think it’s so great that you took matters into your own hands and went the uTales route. Do you plan to do it again?

    • Yes, Renée, you totally get to choose your illustrator, and this is one of the distinct fun sides compared to traditional publishing.

    • Renée, sorry, I missed your second question. Yes, I will be continuing with uTales. I have one book going through some final revision now and then onto an illustrator, I hope. I also have a SNOW GAMES’ sequel, which I need to send off to Lori Degman for a critique (just won this!). I have other manuscripts, though, that I am revising to start sending to agents.

  8. I’m a cautious sort at times, and have surfed the interwebs reading all about uTales. What I have found is all POSITIVE feedback, like yours. Everyone from authors, illustrators, etc. has had such a good experience that I am confident they are indeed doing everything with the greatest degree of care and professionalism. Congratulations and best wishes for continued success!

    • Cathy, I think you a very right to be cautious when it comes to publishing and it behoves us all to do our research well before launching into anything. Glad you have been reading positives about uTales.

  9. Glad to see you discussing uTales. The more I hear the more impressed I am. Thanks Joanna. 🙂

  10. Congrats on the book. I think uTales is great. I love that the story can be read or read to the child.

  11. Thank you, Rena. i know that uTales is looking into adding a narration feature.

  12. Thanks for this in-depth look at the “why” of your uTales experience. Now I look forward to the “how” on Susanna’s blog next week!

  13. There seems to be lots of buzz around uTales. Thanks for giving us this look behind the scenes. I think it’s fabulous that you could chose your illustrator!

    • It is a scary experience, too, selecting an illustrator and wondering how it will all turn out. 🙂 I just love Maja’s work.

  14. Nice write-up. Enjoyed learning about your reason for choosing uTales.

  15. Thanks Julie and Joanna for telling us more about uTales. I’ve always wanted to know more about the company/community, and this was an excellent introduction.

  16. Kirsten, glad you feel you know the company a little better now.

  17. This information was so useful Joanna and Julie! Thanks for sharing with us and congratulations on Snow Games!!! I wasn’t aware of the Facebook uTales Collaborations page so thank you for posting that as well. I’m really looking forward to your interview on Susanna Hill’s blog June18th.

  18. I’m a step closer to publishing with uTales, thanks to you, Joanna…great post. And, congrats on publication of “Snow Games”!

  19. Thank you for sharing all this wonderful information.

  20. Aw, thanks, Krista!

  21. Great post, Joanna. You presented uTales in a very interesting way. It’s so good to get this info in such a clear & concise manner. I haven’t been doing the research required to submit to ebook companies but you’ve summed this up nicely. I like the vision you describe and the obvious trust you feel in this company. Good luck with this book and all the books in your future!

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