Monday, April 12, 2010

Apps Here, Apps There, Apps, Apps, Everywhere

Last Thursday, Publisher's Weekly online presented an extensive article by Karen Springen about the proliferating of children's titles apps- "The iPad Meets the Children's Book." Many of the books mentioned are backlist titles with a built-in audience. What about new books?

Here is my story about this exploding market. I wrote a humorous counting story featuring ten kinds of chairs and ten kinds of animals, which I have submitted as a board book many times during the last eight years. Twice my work reached editorial team meetings, only to be rejected. Stand-alone board books are a hard sell.

So the chairs and the animals were dwelling in a dark drawer.

Last month on the SCBWI website, I read about a new California company, Okenko Books, that is buying manuscripts for the Kindle, iPad, iPhone, iTouch, and Android smartphones. Their website is still being developed and their full subscription program won't be running until some time this summer, but I went to their blog and was pleased with the illustrators they chose for their first three books. I've looked at other new companies that develop apps and many use only simple digital art - doesn't appeal to me. Okenko Books, according to an editor, prepares illustrations "as if they were for a hard-copy book."

I submitted.

They accepted.

So now for the facts:

My flat fee will be small compared to what I'm used to, 40 cents a word for a rhyming story, and paid on publication. According to their contract, Okenko will license electronic and audio rights for digital publishing for one year with a possible extension and royalties afterward. Authors are still free to submit their manuscript to print publishers at any time. (Not sure this could be successful, but it's nice to know.) Okenko Books will find the illustrator.

Could there be glitches ahead? Maybe. But I have decided to go for it. In spite of the small fee, I'm happy to spring "Ten Kinds of Chairs to Count" from that dark drawer. Happy to imagine children enjoying my story.

Would you make the same decision? If not, why not? Comments on this new market?


  1. Congratulations, Gale. Your story is out there for kids to enjoy and that's all that matters! It might be the way of the future, but I'm not sure - old fogies like me still want to turn the pages.

  2. Congratulations, Gale! I would have done EXACTLY what you did. Get those stories out there, is what I say. I can't wait to drag out my oldies but goodies for this new exciting market.

  3. Can you explain more about the terms? Will you be paid for each download?

  4. Gale,

    Wonderful that you will be debuting in the newest medium. It's great that you are part of a new adventure for children. As Judy mentioned it would be interestng to know more about the terms.


  5. Congratulations, Gale. I remember that chairs story! While I still don't feel as though I can snuggle up with a Kindle or iPhone, I think it's a great venue and as you said, an exploding market.

  6. That's app-solutely great! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) This apps market sounds so exciting to me. I can see your book getting into lots of little hands through this cool new method of delivery. One question, close to J.A.'s: If your book's downloadable, does that mean it can also be printed in four-color, so kids (and you) could also have a hard-copy version, if desired?

  7. Congratulations, Gale! Getting our words out there so that kids can read and enjoy them is definitely all that matters!

    Eager to read your answer to J.A.'s question and J.L.'s question. Such an interesting and exciting new market!

  8. Thanks to everyone for their congratulations!

    Meg, I agree with your love of turning pages. I see these apps as a supplement, not the whole deal.

    Katherine, I remember one or two of your stories that might be excellent as apps. Wasn't there a bath one with lots of action?

    J.A. (and others) Okenko's plan is to market these apps on a subscription basis - with monthly and bi-monthly offerings. Each title will be available for at least a year and the authors are only paid the one time flat fee for the first year. If a title is chosen as a "favorite," then it will move to another category, stay longer, and authors will then be paid a royalty for each download.

    Robin, Agree about Kindle snuggling, but didn't let that personal prejudice stop me.

    J.L., Don't know the answer to your question about printing out. Will ask the editors at some point.

    Brianna, Hope I've answered the questions clearly. Obviously, this is not a big money-making deal for me, but I agree about getting the stories out there.

  9. Wow! That is interesting! And congrats to yoU!!

  10. This is facinating. I'm still kind of waiting on all of this to see how things pan out. But congratulations! This is great news.

  11. Kelly, Thanks for the comment. I watched your latest video yesterday. I think you have more than a writing career going there!

    Christina, Yes, who knows where all this is going, but I decided to take the plunge because I liked what I learned about this company.