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Publishing Industry


This Week's Hat Tip: Featuring Susan Eaddy


This week's Hat Tip goes to Julie Hedlund and Susan Eaddy for their delightful picture book to be: My Love is the Sun.

Both Susan and Julie credit me for having brought them together. And while I can't deny introducing them one fateful day in 2012 at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, I can claim no credit for what they have accomplished as collaborators since that time.

It was Julie's genius to include Susan in her inspired hybrid publishing scheme to bring My Love is the Sun into this world. Their aim: to finance the production of this 24-page picture book with Little Bahalia Publishing through crowd-sourced donations raised via Kickstarter.

This post was meant to give the team's campaign a boost at the half-way point. Yet, they've pulled off the inevitable without my help, and in record time too! Their campaign, in less than two weeks, is already fully funded!

But that doesn't mean you can no longer lend your support. Oh no! There's still plenty of time to contribute to the campaign. And no donation is too small for this worthy effort.

Worthy? You ask. Well, just take a look at this video interview with the illustrator, Susan Eaddy, and decide for yourself!

I think you'll agree that this is one picture book that -- fo' sho' -- deserves to sit front and center on your child's bookshelf. Even mine. And she's already 17!

If you liked my interview with Susan then you will absolutely LOVE this quickie video of Susan at work birthing her fantastical clay beasties!

Click Here for more information about Julie and Susan's Kickstarter Campaign to raise production funds for My Love is the Sun in collaboration with Little Bahalia Publishing.



Indie Book Publishing Options

Indie-publishing has never been easier. As for the stigma attached to doing-it-yourself, it is falling away faster with each new author to find success in the indie-publishing space.

Add to their ranks the "hybrid authors" -- those both traditionally and self-published -- who are going the independent route, and you have the manifestation of a new publishing paradigm. Not only are these authors modeling the way of the future, they are proving that the best way to make it in the authoring business is to be available in as many places and on as many formats as possible to ensure the greatest following. And they are making more money in the process.

The new publishing mantra, à mon humble avis, ought to be:

Give our readers what they want, where and how they want it.

Why? Because more and more readers, even the very young, are reading in a variety of formats, not just print; and they are developing format preferences linked to the time of day and where they are reading. That is to say, while a print book may be the preferred medium in bed at night, literacy habits are often better served these days on tablets and eReaders when in transit on the go.

However, getting your manuscript to the iPad, Nook, or Kindle (to name a few) remains a complex and mysterious process. I’ve been researching the possible avenues for my Time Traveler Tales for months now. And it's been a challenge to get a firm grip on all the options. To help me best make sense of the current state of indie-publishing, I decided to create a summary analysis.

I found the exercise so helpful, I decided to share it you.

The problem is, there is no single, universal way to transform your book to each and every available eReader. There may never be. So until the process of eBook publishing is “universalized”, we have no choice but to format our works for each distribution channel.

By distribution channel, I refer to the retailer ultimately handling your book, and your money. The biggest players in the eBook space today are Amazon (for the Kindle), Barnes & Noble (for the Nook), and Apple (for the iPad). In addition, Sony and Kobo both support their own eReaders as well as bookstores. And Google maintains an online store that can push to several types of eReaders through Google Play. In my summary analysis, called Indie Book Publishing Options, I focus primarily on The Big Three -- Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble (B&N) -- as they are my present priority.

Given that each distributor supports its own reading device, we authors must first decide whether our works are best suited to a single targeted retailer or to all. If we wish to paint with the broadest strokes, we must then decide if we are up for the technical challenge of formatting and publishing to each channel ourselves, or if we'd prefer to have an aggregator do the work for us instead.

An eBook aggregator is a company or service provider that will take your existing manuscript, typically in .doc, .docx, .pdf, or InDesign file formats, and convert it into the formats needed to publish to the various eBook retailers.

Some aggregators offer additional services, including help with cover design, ISBN acquisition, copyediting, copyrighting, and marketing. But no two aggregators provide the same services, so I delineate the offerings unique to each aggregator in my summary analysis as well.

In addition to handling distribution, aggregators will also manage your sales and payments. They provide you with an account dashboard so all you have to do is sit back and watch your royalty payments trickle in (or flood in, if you’re lucky). As the payment models of each aggregator are different, I also compare and contrast these in the document.  

And after identifying aggregator services and targeted distribution channels, accepted file formats, as well as their potential associated costs, I offer my own views on:

  • the pros and cons of DIY vs. aggregator-driven indie-publishing,

  • the conundrum of Digital Rights Management, and

  • the truth -- at least as I see it -- about purchasing ISBNs.

Click Here
to access a free .pdf copy of:

By Sarah Towle

I hope you find it helpful.  All best, Sarah

        PS Have you gone Indie? Please leave a comments and tell us all about it. Are you satisfied with the results?


        *Special thanks are owed to Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch, whose book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur -- How to Publish a Book, was an invaluable aid in this research and a must-read by anyone considering self-publication.



        A Brief History of StoryApps and Interactivity

        In July 2008, Apple launched the App Store, 1 1/2 years after the release the first iPhone, an event that would change the world of publishing forever.

        At that point, software applications, aka apps (i.e., task-specific coded programs or utilities for end users), had existed for some time, since the birth of the computer. But their numbers were few. And never before had they been powered and run on a hand-held device that tripled as personal compu-
        ter, music player, and phone.

        The iPhone unleashed an industry more vast and far-reaching than even Steve Jobs had anticipa-
        ted. New apps exploded onto the market, simpli-
        fying life's daily tasks in ways we didn't know we wanted but now can't live without.

        Apple discovered it needed a way to manage and benefit from the new cultural paradigm it had started, while also offering third-party developers and early adopters a place at their party. At that time, the App Store was the place to be and be seen.

        By April 2010, the company changed the game again, as well as the party dress code. This time, it was the release of the iPad that brought new categories to an expanded App Store. Among these new categories: Children's Books.

        And thus, the StoryApp genre was born. 

        Humankind's newest storytelling genre, the StoryApp has since been trialed and tested and nurtured into its own as intrepid developers, authors, and publishers have struggled with, and learned, how best to make use of the form. From their initial attempts to recreate the book on the screen, these early adopters have much to teach us about how mobile and tablet devices can be used to enrich and extend story content as well as educate a new generation of tech-savvy young readers: today's "digital natives".  

        In this Brief History of StoryApps and Interactivity, I attempt to illustrate through real-world examples the evolution of the StoryApp form, from its earliest flawed iterations to today's blockbusters. And with it, I hope to set the stage for more in-depth video views and reviews on the ground-breaking, earth-shaking, entertainment-making StoryApps of today... and tomorrow.

        We all owe a debt of gratitude to the StoryApp pioneers. I include their products herein not to criticize, but to demonstrate what we may learn from their efforts to help us best usher our story content into an interactive future.

        My thanks to all the developers, authors, illustrators, publishers, etc., featured this video. And to a whole host of others besides.

        More soon,



        How Many People Does it Take to Build a StoryApp?


        Once upon a time, stories for children were published as books. The realization of these paper-based creations involved two distinct phases that could take several years to complete. The editorial team, comprising a writer, an editor, an art designer, and an illustrator, fed the fruit of their combined efforts to the production team that delivered so many copies per print run, per edition.

        This is still the way books for children are produced today. And it will remain the process for many, many years to come. Because it works.

        For books.

        But there is a new(ish) kid on the virtual block: the StoryApp.

        To realize these electronic creations the production process speeds up with production and editorial teams working in lock step. New editions are possible with the click of a few buttons. And the creative team expands, adding to the editorial ranks described above the following contributors:

        • a program developer (i.e., coder);

        • a user experience (UX) designer to work with the art designer to develop the user interface (UI), or navigational path, especially if the StoryApp is non-linear;

        • a game developer, if the StoryApp is to include interactive learning elements and features;

        • an animator, if the images are to move;

        • an educational consultant to assure that the app is developmentally appropriate to the target age and intuitive to use; and

        • a marketing and branding guru to ensure that people know the StoryApp is out in the world and how they can access it.

        Some of these people might double up on tasks, of course -- the UX and gaming professionals might be the one in the same, for example. But you get the point:

        It takes a lot of people-power to realize a great StoryApp.

        And unlike their print cousins -- some of which require no artwork and all of which require no thought to intuitive userability as everyone knows how to turn pages -- all StoryApps require art, illustration, graphics, and design. For digital formats are highly visual.

        Which is why StoryApps can be so expensive darned to create. Especially good ones.

        Using a program developer, a basic utility app will run you about $5-10K. A robust StoryApp, however, like Beware Mme la Guillotine, A Revolutionary Tour of Paris, that includes interactive elements, intuitive navigation, and learning tools built in, will run you anywhere from $30 to $130K.


        But there is hope on the horizon for independent StoryApp publishing startups and independent authors and illustrators. This past April, at the Tools of Change in Publishing conference at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, I made a point of compiling a list of all the companies present who are now promoting StoryApp Publishing Tools for publishers and do-it-yourselfers, alike.

        Click here to access the list.

        I will be updating it periodically, so please subscribe to my mailing list to ensure that you know when updates are available.

        Keep on creating!
        The world needs that special creation
        that only YOU can conceive!