Once upon a time, some crazy smart person got the idea of taking a children’s story previously passed down through oral storytelling and turning it into a book. This spawned a whole new tradition, and an industry that has thrived for centuries with a work-flow process that involves several distinct phases and teams and can take several years to complete the goal of creating an illustrated story book.
It works like this:
An author first creates a manuscript that is acceptable to an editor. The editor will then work with the author to bring that story to a point of excellence, at which point this editorial team passes the story off to a design team.
The art designer will select the perfect illustrator, who must then be given ample time to realize his or her vision. The designer then lays out the book, selecting fonts and other design elements, and drops in the finished artwork.
The combined effort is provided to the production team in the form of print-ready galleys eventually to be published. And while proofs are being run to test for color and trim accuracy, the marketing team revs up the process of distributing the book to reviewers just as the sales team works to get it into stores.
It is a proven practice and will remain the preferred method of making an illustrated story book for many years to come. Because it works. For books.
But the job of realizing the electronic cousin of an illustrated children’s book—the story app—requires a very different process and a new cast of characters. It works something like this...
In the digital ecosystem, production speeds up with teams working more in lock step, rather than relay style. New editions are possible with the click of a few buttons, making it possible—even favorable for testing purposes—to publish a work in iterative chunks; that is, launching not in a fully finished state, but a simplified one that is added to over time.
The author, editor, and publisher tend to collaborate more at the outset to realize a manuscript not limited to a story text, but requiring content for interactive elements, text boxes, navigational instructions, etc., as well. And the creative team expands, adding to the ranks of editorial, design, and production teams, the following contributors:
Development, or programming, team
User experience (UX) designer
User interface (UI) designer
Game developer, if the app is to include interactive learning elements and features
Animator, if images are to move
Educational consultant, to assure that the app is developmentally appropriate to the target age
Beta-testers, to ensure that the book and design are intuitive to use