anti-resolutionTwo years ago I wrote a blog post that grabbed the attention and touched the heart of none other than Katie Davis, who is now one of my very best friends. It was titled, 2012 Anti-Resolution Revolution. Katie was so inspired by that post, she created her own special tool to capture her accomplishments throughout the year and evaluate them at the end. She has graciously offered to share this workbook with you – click here for more info.

Here is an excerpt from the original post:

It is so tempting to start listing all the things one wants to accomplish at the start of a New Year, but in my experience, the process (and thus the result) is flawed.

I believe the reason resolutions often don’t work is because they start from a place of lack, of negativity, of failure.  We think about all the things we weren’t happy with in the previous year and set out to “fix” them in the new one…  Lose weight = I weigh too much…  Make more money = I don’t have enough money.  Write more often = I don’t write enough

There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals, and achieving them is even better.  However, the goals need to be set on a strong foundation.  So I figured, why not start with what I did accomplish this year and set goals from there.  Let’s first celebrate success and then determine how to carry that forward into the New Year, rather than berating ourselves for what did not get done..

I didn’t write a similar post in 2013, but I should have. It is CRITICAL to reflect on what you DID accomplish in the previous year. How else can you build from the base you already have? If you don’t take the time to tally up and celebrate what you’ve already accomplished, your resolutions will crumble. You’ll be starting from scratch in every category, and starting from scratch feels scary.

Here is what GOALS (vs. resolutions) look like when crafted this way. Lose weight = What did I do last year to improve my health, and what can I do to continue that progress? Make more money = How much money did I make last year, from which sources, and how can I increase output from those sources and add new ones? Write more often = What did I write this year and how am I going to use that writing in the new year while also writing new stories/articles/books, etc.?

Here’s an example from my own year. All year long, in my head, I lamented how little writing I got done. So much so that by the end of the year I was sure I’d done almost nothing. Yesterday, when I tallied it all up, I was pleasantly to find I’d written far more than I thought I had. I had written full drafts that I’d completely forgotten about. Drafts that I can continue revising and working with this year.

I am a firm believer that it takes far more courage to celebrate and compliment yourself than it does to criticize and berate yourself. So let’s get started.

Here is a list of my major professional accomplishments of 2013. 

In addition to this list, I ran the 12 x 12 challenge all year, wrote new drafts and revised existing ones, and continued to contribute to Katie Davis’ Brain Burps About Books podcast. Whew! I’ll be sure to come back to this whenever I feel discouraged about how much I “don’t get done.” 🙂

Now it’s your turn to make YOUR list!

Categories: 12 x 12, A Shiver of Sharks, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Agents, Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Crowdfunding, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Florence, Goals, Holidays, How I Got My Agent, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Travel, Video Idiot Boot Camp, Works in Progress, Writer's Renaissance, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Erzsi Deak of Hen&Ink will be accepting picture book submissions from 12 x 12 members in June. This is a special opportunity because “The Coop” as it is lovingly called, is not open to unsolicited submissions!

Erzsi Deak 1So. What to say about Erzsi Deak, who is my own agent, albeit only for a short time (read: we haven’t gone out on submission with anything yet).

Here are a few things. She is whip-smart and forward-thinking. As a “boundary-pusher” (can I find more phrases to hyphenate?) in publishing, part of the reason I knew we’d be a good fit is because she doesn’t shy away from new challenges or the opportunity to chart new ground. She does not see herself as just a seller of manuscripts but as an advocate for her clients’ careers. Another thing I appreciate about her is that she’s not a “client-coddler” (there’s another one, AND I think I made that one up). Meaning — she will stretch you to do your best work and beyond. Ask a straight question and you’ll get a straight answer. I’ve already found that quality of hers immensely helpful in thinking about and planning my writing projects.

Last, but certainly not least, she LOVES picture books. But she is, to put it in her own words, a “hard ass” about them. 

In short, I’m proud to be one of the chicks in the coop and hope some of my 12 x 12 brethren will join me there. 🙂

I asked Erzsi what she looks for in a picture book manuscript, and here is her response.
PICTURE BOOKS: LESS IS MORE AND S IS FOR STORY! 
What I’m looking for in a picture book manuscript is a shorter (often less than 500 words; definitely less than 1000 words) character-driven story with a beginning, middle, and an unexpected inevitable ending that rides both the inner / emotional and outer / action threads and speaks to the universal needs of kids everywhere without being banal or trite or derivative. A text that leaves plenty of room for illustrations and that will stand the test of many readings. Verbs and language that dance, shout and sigh across the page and through the story. A character or characters we care about and want to hang out with. Again and again. I’m not looking for pure poetry, rhyme, nor anything didactic. I love quiet stories and laugh-out-loud stories. I’m not the right reader for gross-out books just for the sake of being gross. If you can include wordplay, terrific, but not where the story gets lost.
To sum up: Write a terrific original story with an unexpected inevitable ending in fresh language that leaves room for an illustrator — and multiple re-reads. And have fun!
Easy, right?? Just KIDDING!

A little bit about Erzsi Deak, founder of Hen&ink, from the Hen&ink website

“Hen&ink is a literary studio with a twist. We aim to work in the traditional publishing arena, but also to encourage and develop work across cultural borders, genres, and media.

Hen&ink founder, Erzsi Deàk, brings her 25+ years experience on the international stage, connecting individuals and companies with those around the globe who can make things happen – no matter where you find yourself.

With her growing list of prize-winning clients and new voices from around the world, Erzsi Deàk meets often with publishers in the US and UK and aggressively markets domestic and foreign rights, attending the Bologna, London and Frankfurt rights fairs. 

Erzsi’s book, PERIOD PIECES: STORIES FOR GIRLS, was a Bank Street pick and her articles on the world of children’s publishing regularly appear in CHILDREN’S WRITERS & ILLUSTRATORS’ MARKET. Based in France, Erzsi ran the international arm of the SCBWI for nearly ten years, developing and mentoring writers, illustrators and publishing programs in 28 countries. She founded and organized the SCBWI Bologna Conference and was awarded the SCBWI Member of the Year in 1999 and 2008. 

But mostly, Erzsi is on the forefront of the international publishing scene, doing what she does best, connecting people across borders and genres.”

Full 12 x 12 submission guidelines and requirements for Erzsi will be posted in the Submission Station section of the 12 x 12 Membership Forum, accessible to Little GOLDen Book members by 2:00 p.m. EST on May 31st. In the meantime, here are links with more information about Erzsi.
Good Luck!
Hen & Ink website and blog: http://www.henandink.com
Erzsi’s website and blog: http://www.erzsideak.com/
Erzsi Deak’s profile on LinkedIn
Erzsi Deak on Twitter
Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Books, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Storybook Apps · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Jay's plate

A clean plate!

It would be an understatement to say it’s been quite the week – in a great way! Read on to find out why.

Quotes on Gratitude

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.” — Mae West

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” — John Wooden

“Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build up their philosophy of life.” — A.J. Cronin

Gratitude list for the week ending February 2

  1. I was invited to speak on a panel at the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference in Bologna in conjunction with the Bologna Book Fair. Last year I went to the conference not knowing a single soul and with a just-drafted proposal for an app that I was seeking input on. I’ll be back as a speaker and with that very app published in the iTunes store! Feelings of accomplishment like this do help carry the days when those rejections and disappointments come in.
  2. This week, 12 x 12 topped 400 members! The program is now officially larger than it was last year.
  3. We had an amazing featured author post from author Kathleen Pelley. Anyone who reads aloud to children should read AND listen to the post.
  4. I got to see a prototype of A TROOP IS A GROUP OF MONKEYS! I cannot express how rewarding it was to see it all come together, and I can’t wait for its pending release (date WILL be announced soon)!
  5. There is a strong possibility I’ll be getting another one of my books (outside of the app series) published in a combination of new and traditional methods. More on this soon, but the early indicators are promising.
  6. Jay ate his entire dinner three nights this week. This might seem small in the midst of bigger news, but when you get a notoriously picky eater wolfing down his meal three times in one week, that is worth celebrating!
  7. Reading Prince Caspian to my kids.
  8. Having a wonderful heart to heart with my daughter over dinner one night, when she told me she admires me because I don’t give up on my dreams. If that is my single accomplishment in life, it’s enough. 🙂
  9. Jay’s triple-chocolate malt ball-covered birthday cake!
  10. An unexpected chance to chat with a friend in London.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys, Apps, Authors, Birthdays, Digital Publishing, Family, Gratitude Sunday, Picture Books, Publishing, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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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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Oh happy, happy day! My friend Katie Davis aired her 100th episode of Brain Burps About Books today! For this special event, she interviewed all three of the National Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature – two emeritus and one current. That means she has interviews with Jon Scieszka, Katherine Paterson, and Walter Dean Myers!!

Our current ambassador, Walter Dean Myers, chose “Reading is not optional” as his platform. Likewise, verily I say unto you, if you care at ALL about children’s literature, literacy, or reading and writing in ANY of its forms (children or adult), LISTENING TO THIS EPISODE IS NOT OPTIONAL. These three people are heroes, pioneers, warriors and role models – not just to children but to all adults who advocate for children, whether as parents, teachers, librarians, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.

I’m lucky because I got to listen to the episode in all of its greatness yesterday. That is an advantage of owning the Brain Burps app – you get the podcasts a whole day early. I can assure you the interviews are funny, informative, inspirational and everything you’d expect they’d be coming from these paragons of kidlit.

I’ve met both Jon Scieszka and Katherine Paterson in person. We met Jon at the Boulder Bookstore a few months ago, where he patiently listened to my five year-old recount every incidence of potty humor in all of the books we’d read by him. If you’ve read any of Scieszka’s work, you probably already know this is quite a formidable list. Then, he signed one of my son’s books, “To Jay – a real Stinker.” You can only imagine how much more my son loves that book now.

I met Katherine Paterson at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair after an interview she gave at the Author’s Cafe. During her interview, she said her ambition as a writer was to write a book that did for children what the book The Secret Garden had done for her. How gratifying it was to be able to tell her unequivocally that she has done that, many times over, for me. Particularly with Bridge to Terabithia, which remains one of my all-time favorite books and one that I believe is perfectly written.

Please don’t miss your opportunity to be inspired by these literary giants. I’m not promoting this episode because I’m in it (because I’m not), but because it is simply unmissable. And to help celebrate Katie’s achievement and all she has brought to the world of kidlit with this podcast, I am giving away three Brain Burps apps from the iTunes app store. To win, all you have to do is leave a comment with your favorite part of the 100th episode. It is a long one, so I’ll give you a full week to listen and comment. You have until midnight EDT, Wednesday June 20th to comment. I’ll draw winners on Thursday the 21st. So GO. NOW. LISTEN!

 

Categories: Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Giveaway, Picture Books, Poetry, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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I am so excited to post my FIRST EVER vlog, in which I interview my friend and fellow author, Sarah Towle. I met Sarah, an American living in Paris, at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. I came to speak with her at the SCBWI booth about apps and app development. She was there to talk about her groundbreaking app geared for tweens and teens – Beware Madame La Guillotine – a Paris walking tour narrated by a real-life woman of the French Revolution.

Being a lover of travel, history AND books, I was immediately taken with Sarah’s brilliant app. We got to chatting and not only did she give me great information, she also took me under her wing for the rest of the fair. I’ve been wanting to have her on the blog ever since, and voila! Today’s the day.

Now, our video interview is fairly long. I had the goal to keep it to 10-15 minutes, but the conversation was so fascinating, I couldn’t help myself. BUT, there is a special treat waiting at the end of the interview – a special opportunity for writers, announced for the first time here today. If, after listening to the interview, you want more information about Sarah, Time Traveler Tours and the app, here is a link to her media page with all of the interviews she’s done in various venues. My personal favorites are the Cynsations interview, the SLJ Touch & Go interview and this podcast. Now, without further adieu, please enjoy our interview!

 

Categories: Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Publishing, Travel, Travel Writing, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Today I once again Get All Grateful on Your A** on Katie DavisBrain Burps About Books podcast. It’s a special segment because it’s all about The Bologna Children’s Book Fair. I talk about specific people I met who inspired gratitude, but also about the overwhelming sense of honor I felt walking the halls and realizing that I am part of this amazing community and industry. The segment is about 10 minutes in, before the main interview, which is AWESOME! Author/Illustrator Maryann Cocca-Leffler talks about taking one of her books to the stage, and about how she sold more than a million copies of two of her books. Fascinating!

I haven’t written much about my experience in Bologna on the blog yet. I’m still writing my articles for SCBWI and CBI, and I don’t want to scoop my own self by publishing on the blog first. However, I would like to share some inspirational quotes with you from some interviews I caught in the Author’s Cafe.

Meeting Katherine Paterson

Katherine Paterson, Newbery Medal-winning author, Former U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and Recipient of the 2006 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (+ many others):

  • “I love to write because I can live so many lives.”
  • “The world is full of people with talent, but perseverance is rare. To be a writer, you need talent and perseverance.”
  • She writes for children because, “I have the same questions that children have, and I haven’t been able to answer them.”
  • “I don’t publish anything I don’t love.”
  • It is very humbling to have someone say that your book inspired them to become a writer.”

Sonya Hartnett, Australian author and recipient of the 2008 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

  • “When you write for children, you have to call upon every single ability you have as a writer to write a difficult scene (like war). Never do I have to reach as deep into my abilities to write for adults as I do for children.”
  • “A writer lives many times, and yet doesn’t live at all. I put my entire experience into my writing. I’ve given my life to fiction.” She said in reference to sometimes feeling existential angst with regard to questions such as, ‘Who am I?’, ‘What am I?’

Ryoji Arai, Japanese Illustrator and recipient of the 2005 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

  • “The ending of my stories are also a beginning. I think about that beginning when I write my stories.”
  • “An artist has to find space between the words.”
  • “People ask me, ‘How do you invent stories?’ I answer, ‘Well, how do you play?”
  • “A child equals hope.”

Lin Oliver, U.S. Author and Executive Director of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)

  • She became a children’s author because she went into the L.A. Unemployment Office and saw a sign that said, “Children’s Book Writer Wanted.” She went on to say that she “hasn’t seen those words before or since.”
  • “If you write for children, you are going back to your own childhood.”
  • On writing for boys: “They like to laugh or be scared.”
  • If you want to get published, “Read everything in the field. Write and practice your craft until you are good enough to be published.”
  • On why we need to support libraries. “Librarians are people who teach you how to find information.” This is a critical skill for 21st century kids.
  • “It is important that we all come to regard children’s literature as a global enterprise.” That is why SCBWI is now playing an active role in advocating diversity in children’s literature.

Which of these quotes inspires you the most?

Categories: Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Italy, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Travel, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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One of the lovely porticoes

Another crazy fantastic week in Italy – this time Bologna. Learned so much about the children’s book biz, including much ado about apps (more to come soon).  Bologna won me over with its lovely porticoes and outstanding food.  It’s a completely different world in Bologna from Florence, even though it’s only a 35 minute train ride.  If you ever go, make sure you pack your black.  It seems the only two colors people wear there are black and dark wash jeans.  I felt like an Easter egg in my wardrobe.  As a friend said, “Bologna – where black is the new black.”

Quotes on Gratitude

“Joy is not in things, it is in us.” — Joan Borysenko

“There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it.” — Seneca

“Love is the true means by which the world is enjoyed: our love to others, and others’ love to us.” — Thomas Traherne

Gratitude list for the week ending March 24

  1. First, I am grateful for my in-laws, my stepmother and my mom for helping my husband hold down the fort while I took this epic trip to Italy.  Thank you!!
  2. Learning enough about apps and ebooks at the ToC Bologna conference to make my head spin.  Cheers to Kat Meyer and the entire O’Reilly team making it all happen.
  3. Meeting Katherine Paterson, author of one of my all-time favorite books – Bridge to Terabithia
  4. SCBWI Bologna dance party!
  5. The folks who put together the SCBWI booth program for the Bologna Book Fair – Kathleen Ahrens, Angela Cerrita, Kirsten Carlson, Bridget Strevens-Marzo, Tioka Tokedira, Chris Cheng, and anyone else I am forgetting.  These guys worked tirelessly to provide great programming, regional showcases, and opportunities for writers and illustrators attending the fair.  Grazie mille!

    The hard-working SCBWI team at the booth celebration

  6. Making wonderful new friends – including all of the above, plus Sarah Towle, Emily Smith Pearce, Danika Dinsmore, Susan Eaddy, Lucy CoatsBarbara McClintock, and Andi Ipaktchi.
  7. Hall after hall after hall of nothing but children’s books – enough said!
  8. Tagliatelle ragu and red wine with Danika and Susan – lovely dinner
  9. The city of Bologna itself, with its seductive porticoes, antiquarian bookshops, black-clad residents spilling into the streets from Enoteche at night, savory food shops and best of all, Gelateria Gianni!
  10. Receiving the best welcome home in history from my kids. The sign was fantastic, but the hugs and kisses even more precious.  How I missed them!

What are you grateful for this week?

The best part of the trip was coming home and knowing I was missed.

Categories: Apps, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Friendship, Gratitude Sunday, Italy, Picture Books, Publishing, SCBWI, Storybook Apps, Travel, Travel Writing, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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One of the things I love most about blogging is the social aspect – receiving comments on my posts and leaving comments on others’.  For the next three weeks, however, I will not be able to read and comment on blogs.  I am leaving on Friday for a two-week business trip to Italy.  This week, all the time I have that is not spent on preparing for the trip will be spent with my family.  Then I’ll be on the ground in Italy, and when I return, the kids will be on Spring Break, so I’ll be catching up with them, recovering from jet-lag, closing out the March 12 x 12 giveaway and launching April’s.  So please don’t be offended if I normally comment on your blogs and you don’t see me for a while.  All will return to normal in April.  I will be checking my blog, however, and will do my best to respond to comments left on my posts.

What am I doing in Italy, besides eating pasta and gelato?  First I’ll be in Florence, working on a yet-to-be-revealed project.  Then I’m off to Bologna for the O’Reilly Tools of Change in Publishing Conference and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.  Some regular features on the blog, such as Tuesday 12 x 12, will continue to run while I am gone, and I have a couple of guest posts in store too.  I might be able to blog here and there, but I can’t promise.  I will, however, post short updates, photos and snippets on my Facebook Author Page if you want to follow along there or follow me on Twitter.

I will be thinking of you while I am here...

And here...

And eating this...

And this!

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, Florence, Italy, Picture Books, Publishing, Storybook Apps, Travel, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. The short film version of this app (which is also a storybook app) won an Oscar this year. I think that

ETA 8/12 — This post is still relevant today, but I have answered quite a number of my own questions since its publication. The best of my knowledge is now contained in a template I wrote for authors and illustrators to help them organize their thinking in order to write, illustrate (if applicable) and submit a storybook app proposal to an e-publisher, a developer or to use an app creation tool to develop it themselves. It’s called Julie Hedlund’s Template for Storybook App Proposals. It includes, as a bonus, a list of e-publishers accepting submissions and companies offering app creation tools. 

If, after reading this post, you think the template might be helpful, you can find more information here.

As some of you may know, I am committed to taking the story I entered in last year’s MeeGenius Children’s Author Challenge and developing it into an app.  I’ve been doing quite a bit of research, yet I feel I’ve only just begun my descent into the rabbit hole.  In reality this post should be titled, How to start THINKING about Creating a Storybook App.  There is a huge morass of information out there, much of it inconsistent.  It seems nobody has written Storybook Apps for Dummies yet.  I thought I’d take a crack at the very basics.

First, authors who are also illustrators have a distinct advantage in app development.  One reason it’s been so challenging to find information is because there are precious few resources geared toward “authors only” who have ideas for apps, beyond telling them to partner with an illustrator.  The best information I’ve found so far has been at e is for book, a blog written by a group of traditionally published, professional children’s book authors and illustrators who are working on various digital book projects, and Digital Kid’s Author, author Karen Robertson’s website.

Karen wrote the app “Treasure Kai and the Lost Gold of Shark Island,” a treasure hunt adventure book.  Recently, Karen spoke on Publishing Insiders Blog Talk Radio series on Secrets to Creating Children’s Book Apps (the show is still available; you can listen for free).  On the show, Karen discussed 5 steps to app creation.  All of these steps assume the text is written, edited and ready to be developed into an app.

  1. Decide what kind of app you want to create: Think about how much interaction you want in the story. Think about what animation might enhance (vs. detract from) the story.  Do you want a “read to me” option, which requires narration?  Do you want touch-based animation?  Special sounds?
  2. Create a brief for your app: This is a document that details the text, illustration, sounds/narration and animation that goes on each page. Unlike a manuscript for a traditional picture book submission, here the author and/or illustrator does suggest page turns because they are critical to developing the interactive components of the app.
  3. Create art for your app: Again, this is where illustrators have an advantage because they can both write and illustrate the app.  If you are an author looking to partner with an illustrator, look for one that can work digitally.  Ideally, the art is created using digital layers to produce the best animation effects.
  4. Decide what narration, sounds and animation you want: Do you want music in your app?  Do you need to hire a narrator?  Do you have sound sprites planned (touch-based animation that triggers a sound, for example an animal noise or a drum beating)?
  5. Build the app: This is where the app developer comes in.  The developer creates the code that turns the static story and illustrations into an interactive app.  You can hire an independent developer or work with a company that specializes in app development.  An advantage of an independent developer is that they can usually create custom code for features specific to your app.  You might also be able to retain ownership of that code.  A disadvantage is being reliant on that person to maintain and update your app for its lifetime.  Development companies typically have expertise in app development, and will code your app based upon their platforms.  This might provide less flexibility for custom animation, but companies continue to become more sophisticated in their offerings.  Companies will almost always provide the maintenance and updates for your app on an ongoing basis.  Some companies even offer do-it-yourself drag and drop interfaces.

Our VERY favorite storybook app!

After listening to the radio show and skimming through Karen’s e-book, I am still left with the question of what authors are supposed to submit to app development companies in terms of proposals.  Is it just a manuscript?  A full brief?  Should it include a marketing plan?  I have Googled storybook app “template,” “proposal,” “submission,” “brief,” “specification,” six hundred ways to Sunday and still haven’t come up with a good answer.

In two weeks, I’ll be in Bologna, Italy attending the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference, focused exclusively on the children’s market.  I’m writing articles for SCBWI and The Children’s Book Insider.  Many industry thought-leaders will be in attendance, so I am hoping to dig much deeper into these issues on behalf of authors and illustrators.  Stay tuned!  I probably won’t be able to blog in real-time while I am there, but I will be tweeting and posting snippets and updates on my Facebook Author page if you are interested.

I know some of you reading already have experience creating storybook apps.  Any advice to share?  Does anyone have questions they’d like me to get to the bottom of in Bologna?  Leave feedback in the comments!

Categories: Apps, Authors, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Self Publishing, Storybook Apps, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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