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As I wrote in last week's post, How Many People Does it Take to Build a StoryApp?, producing a good StoryApp can require a pretty extensive, and expensive, team.
In addition to the work of the author, illustrator and program developer, you may also need a UX (user experience) designer or a game mechanics expert, depending on the features and navigation you wish to include in your app. If you're developing for children, you may need the help of an educational consultant to ensure that your content is appropriate for the development age and/or to create related curricular materials. And if you don't have a mechanism in place to market your app, you will, most assuredly, need a publicist as well.
But the one person you can absolutely not live without is your Art Director.
I'll never forget the moment when I realized just how true this is. I developed Beware Madame La Guillotine on a shoestring, as you know, and therefore hoped to get away with using Apple's palette of preset buttons, icons and other graphic elements. But when my programmer sent me the initial mock ups, I couldn't believe my eyes.
Several "u" words came immediately to mind: unbecoming, undesirable, uninteresting, and unpromising were among them. But the word that really screamed in my ears was "ugly". It was not unique. It looked like most of other apps in the App Store.
In walked Beth Lower, graphic artist extraordinaire. Beth is an acclaimed Art Director, well known in the magazine world. She came to my StoryApp eager to learn all she could about app development and ready to apply her already proven graphic design skills to the digital environment.
We still had to cut corners from a financial point of view. We used Apple presets in the static content of the nav and tool bars, for example. But all dynamic content in the body of the app, such buttons, text layout, illustration set up, graphic icons and maps -- you name it -- were realized thanks to Beth's artistic eye and creative contribution. I look very forward to collaborating with her again.
thing: We authors and illustrators are what we read. Right?
I mean, you wouldn't try to write a picture book without first reading a ton of them and studying the form, would you?
Likewise, you wouldn't set off to write a piece of middle grade fiction without first knowing that genre.
Yet, many of the people who contact me for advice on how to create and publish eBooks and Apps don't actually own a device upon which to read their desired future publication.
My advice to them: Know
If you wish to produce digitally, you need to obtain and study digital content first. For each story demands its own form or forms. And each form offers its own unique way of telling, and receiving, stories.
Digital formats are not simply recreations of traditional publishing formats. At least they shouldn't be. So knowing the potential of each of today's publishing options is the only way to know what you like and what you don't; what elements you simply must include in your future enhanced book or app; and what features you and your story can live without.
Most of us, however, are flummoxed as to how to begin. I know I once was. And the way forward seems always to be changing.
So I made this video for you: to demystify the process of obtaining eBooks and Apps, and to help you decide what is the best eReader for your purposes given your personal publishing goals.
I hope you find it helpful. If you do, please feel free to pass it on.
And if you have any questions or wish to share a comment, by all means, fire away!
When I grow up, I want to be Roxie Munro. Roxie is an inspiration. Author and illustrator of more than 35 mostly nonfiction and concept books, she has also plunged into the app world with aplomb. What's fascinating is that Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure and Roxie’s Doors, both developed in collaboration with Omar Curiere and his team at OCG Studios in Amsterdam, offer two different potential paths to digital development. And the partnership is far from done.
They've got a third app project due to hit the streets this September that I'm just aching to get my fingers on. It's a series of augmented reality (AR) apps linked to Roxie's previously designed and illustrated kids interactive walk-in storybooks created with KIWiStoryBooks.
Roxie's next picture book, Slithering Snakes, is also on its way -- I had a chance to preview some of the spreads for this book when I visited Roxie in April 2012. It's great!
She's also stirring up some sort of "secret sauce", chock full of interactivity, that we should be hearing about soon...