Yesterday, I quietly launched my first product – a template for creating storybook apps. Although the template went live with minimal fanfare, it did feel like a birth of sorts. As such, I thought I should share the template’s “creation” story. 🙂

The template emerged after I developed my own proposal, from scratch and with little information to go on. I had an idea for a series of apps based upon one of my manuscripts. I believed these stories would work better in digital vs. print form. I wanted to start submitting the idea to app publishers and developers, but I had no idea what information to include in a submission.

Would it be better to send the manuscript, text only, and include my ideas for sound and animation in the query? What about illustrations? I am not an illustrator, so I wondered if I should send the the app submission with or without suggestions for illustrations. In traditional publishing, an editor who acquires your manuscript will match you with an illustrator. This is not necessarily the case among e-publishers.

After months of research, attending digital publishing conferences, and scouring the websites of e-publishers, authors of successful apps, and storybook app reviews, I was unable to find a clear standard for app submissions. I followed with phone interviews of key publishers, authors and reviewers. I also spoke with a few freelance editors and literary agents.

I took all the knowledge I gained from these events, conversations and websites and wrote a storybook app proposal that I have used to submit my own project. Since then, I have received positive feedback on the proposal structure and content from editors and agents.

Knowing that information on how to organize and submit ideas for apps is still sparse and evolving, I decided to turn my own proposal into a template for others to use. I deliberately set the price low to make it affordable for all authors and illustrators.

If you are interested in developing and publishing storybook apps, or learning more about them, I hope you will use the template, learn from it, and possibly write proposals in far less time than it took me to write my first one.

Have you considered publishing a storybook app? If so, do you think a template like this one could help? Feedback is welcome!

(A special shout-out to Karen Robertson’s website, which introduced me to the notion of an “app brief”, to Roxie Munro for talking me through her process, to Emma Dryden who spent far more time with me on the phone than I’m sure she had, to Sarah Towle for planting the seed and to Katie Davis for helping to fertilize it.).

Categories: Apps, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, Self Publishing, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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19 Comments

  1. Way to go, Julie! You’re an “inventor”! BTW, do u have any publishers interested in YOUR app proposal?

    • Julie Hedlund

      Tina,

      As a matter of fact, I do have one that asked me for the link so they could provide it on their website. I’m hoping more will do the same. I haven’t had time to contact any others yet, so we’ll see. Will keep you all posted!

  2. I just bought it. Thank you for all of your hard work. I look forward to learning.

  3. I’ll say you launched quietly…and I’m glad you did! Thanks for all your hard work. I’m sure it will pay off in many ways, and inspire rest of us, Julie….

  4. I grabbed a copy. I’ve been a little MIA this summer, but enjoying the updates. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks.

  5. I will try to get it (that means, convince my mom to get it for me. 😉 Very cool idea!

    • Julie Hedlund

      Erik,

      As a 10 year-old kid, if you want a copy, you can have one for free! 🙂 Ask your mom for permission and let me know. Then I’ll send it over to you via email.

  6. Well done! I want to be you when I grow up. lol
    btw, I think Tina was asking if you got any bites on the app proposal you created that led to the development of the template. I’m curious, too.

    • Julie Hedlund

      Oh – yes I have! I’m in “discussions,” but nothing finalized and keeping options open. 🙂

  7. What a great resource! You are a trailblazer!

  8. I just bought it and think it’s terrific. As someone who has little to no experience with either storybook apps or the devices that run them, which is the best device to view apps on – computer, iPad, phone? – and what are some apps you would recommend looking at to learn something about how they’re done well or not well? Thanks!

    • Julie Hedlund

      Susanna, these are great questions! Most apps today are being developed with tablets like the iPad in mind. The small screens on smart phones aren’t optimal for highly interactive apps, although some do have an iPhone version.

      I thought about including app suggestions in the template, but new ones come out every day and it’s hard to keep up. Here are a few I like, and I would also recommend you go to http://www.digital-storytime.com for reviews, top 10 lists, good examples of free apps, etc. In the meantime, here are some that I think exemplify how the technology gives us “more” than a book. These ones are all HIGHLY interactive, but for great examples of very high quality apps with more limited interactivity, I’d recommend anything by PicPocket Books.

      The Monster at the End of This Book
      Don’t Let the Pigeon Run this App
      Cinderella – Nosy Crow version
      The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore
      Press Here
      Where Do Balloons Go? (Brand New!)
      Flip

      I couldn’t possibly list them all, but if others have recommendations, by all means let us know!

  9. Wow, Julie! Big crowd cheers to you from the west.

  10. As a developer who’s thinking of getting into apps, this sounds intriguing! If I do go that direction, this sounds like it would be a huge help in project planning.

  11. Sorry, I’ve also been MIA this summer with a lot of things going on. I think this is a wonderful idea. I’m very impressed with your creativity and all the wonderful ideas you give birth to that are helpful to the rest of us.

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