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I’ve been reviewing Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers trilogy (I Hunt Killers, Game) for the Magazine and am about to start reading the just-released final volume, Blood of My Blood. So I was very excited to get my hands on Lucky Day: An I Hunt Killers Prequel by Barry Lyga (Little, Brown, April 2014), one of several digital-only novella prequels to the series.
Lucky Day follows Sheriff G. William Tanner (a mentor and father figure to the novels’ protagonist Jasper “Jazz” Dent, who makes a very brief appearance here) as he investigates two cases in the last weeks before a county election. One girl has been abducted and is presumed murdered, and another is found raped and killed not long after â brutal violence the likes of which small-town Lobo’s Nod and its surrounding county have not seen since pioneer days.
As the cases go colder and the community’s fears grow, G. William’s chances of re-election to sheriff’s office dwindle. But then he makes a connection between the cases, follows an uncomfortable hunch about an upstanding community member, and finds himself face to face with the killer.
Appropriately, given its adult protagonist, the tone of this prequel is very different from the novels’. Instead of Jazz’s teenage first-person narrative, here a partially omniscient third-person narrator relates G. William’s (very mature) concerns and experiences. His guilt about the cases potentially going unsolved, coupled with grief over his wife’s recent death, sends him into a near-suicidal depression. Perhaps this novella is better suited to adult readers of gritty hardboiled detective/jaded cop novels (I’m thinking fans of Jo NesbĂ¸ or Tana French) rather than the teen audience the trilogy is aimed at. That said, as a fan of those types of books myself, I enjoyed this suspenseful look at G. William’s â and the infamous Hand-in-Glove killer’s â earlier career.
Available for various e-readers; $1.99. Recommended for young adult and older users.
The post Lucky Day: An I Hunt Killers Prequel e-book review appeared first on The Horn Book.
illus. by AndrĂŠ da Loba from the New York Times
Leonard Marcus gave a swell talk about Robert McCloskey last night, but what’s really sticking with me is a response he gave to a question at the end about ebooks. Size matters, he essentially said, when it comes to picture books and other books for young children. Of course, we all know this, but I hadn’t thought about the point in the context where Leonard was placing it, that the size and shape of whatever ebook you’re reading is subsumed by the size and shape of whatever screen you’re reading it on. The difference between the board book, picture book and big book editions of Goodnight, Gorilla disappears in your e-reader edition (which–I just tried it–is a disappointing experience indeed). I’m thinking I may need to gin up a jeremiad for our Cleveland presentation on Friday.
The post Does one size fit all? appeared first on The Horn Book.
Most writers yearn to publish a book. No surprise! Writing conferences, blogs and professional journals are mostly aimed at book publication. Five years ago, I wrote about magazine publication as an option. Since then, the traditional book market (especially for picture books) is even tighter. And the digital/app market for picture books? Unless you are an author/illustrator, or your work is already illustrated, you're pretty much out of luck. Apps are expensive to make and developers usually look for established authors or a branded series.
So why not write for magazines? You'll get some rejection letters, but aren't they're always a part of the writing life? For non-fiction articles, you may have to write the dreaded query letter, but don't we all need practice with them? The only other disadvantages are smaller checks than a book advance and your moment of glory only lasts a month.
But consider the advantages:
1. You don't need an agent to submit.
2. Most magazine pieces are short - not as time consuming as producing a novel or picture book.
3. Using a different slant, you can often reuse your research for another piece.
4. You might see your name in print without waiting for years.
5. Often a wide audience sees your writing and you needn't spend hours on promotion.
6. You don't get wacky book reviews in professional journals.
7. Your magazine piece could earn additional money through reprint rights.
8. There are a bundle of contests and prizes to be won in the magazine world.
Next month I'll interview a senior editor at Highlights. Stay tuned.
Field’s Wattpad profile page.
Bookseller Greg Field is an inspiration. While he closed the Sydney bookstore he has run for 10 years, Sunset Books, last week in the face of tough economic realities, Field has also posted the first third of his new mystery novel on global story sharing community Wattpad and launched an app business. His is a story that demonstrates what can be achieved as the book industry faces dramatic change, as he explains âŚ
When did you decide to close Sunset Books, how long had you been pondering it, and what were the key reasons behind your decision?
The moment? Iâm not sure when exactly but I knew things at the shop had to change by Christmas 2012. By January 2013 I knew it was over. The key reasons for closing my beloved Sunset Books were like this:
- Given the rapid change in the publishing world recently I was keenly aware that my shop had to stay both relevant and profitable. It stayed relevant but it didnât stay as profitable as it needed to be. Bookselling is damn hard work; it takes energy, passion, drive, intelligence and business skills just to stay afloat as a âbricks and mortarâ bookseller right now (well anytime actually – but right now is harder). I never made a loss as a bookseller but things were getting too hard for me to justify continuing. Bookshops are not public amenities, they have to make money – and mine was making less and less every year.
- I wanted a change. Iâm a person who embraces change and Iâve been working as a bookseller for over ten years now. Iâm ready for new ventures – so bring it on!
What would you say to a friend who said they were planning to open and bricks and mortar bookstore in the current climate?
Not all bookshops are in the same position as mine. Thereâs still a place for relevant and profitable bricks and mortar bookshops in Australia. I have the greatest respect for the lovely people that front up at their bookshopâs every day and try to make ends meet. But – to repeat – bookselling is hard work and to succeed you have to be passionate and inspired. If they had the desire and the business plan right, then I would advise my friend to approach with caution. I would recommend they seriously consider both the state of physical retail and the state of publishing in Australia before sinking their âhard earnedâ into a bookshop.
Did you consider running an online only version of Sunset? Or going into ebook sales? If not, why not?
I did briefly consider an online only version of Sunset but knocked back the idea because Iâm not in love with my own brand. I inherited the name âSunset Booksâ from the previous owner and if I did go into an online only business I would consider starting a brand from scratch.
I tried ebook sales but found it difficult. There are a number of obstacles for the average bookseller wanting to morph into an ebook seller. Firstly, youâre taking on a massive market and numerous powerful competitors. Most bricks and mortar retailers need to learn new skills to create a successful online business. Even if they already have those skills, the nature of selling ebooks puts you toe to toe with marketing giants and there are issues surrounding both price (product and platform) and DRM which can inhibit success.
You’ve said you might consider opening another bookstore one day. Under what circumstances?
Iâve always loved dealing with people face to face, and one of the greatest joys for a bookseller is being able to assess a person âin the fleshâ and recommend an appropriate book. While search engines and social media are good ways to discover a new book, there is something very human and magical being able to have this type âreal timeâ interaction.
My personal opinion is that âbricks and mortarâ retail has to progress to a place where either:
- Customers are prepared to pay a premium for the physical interaction and experience of browsing. (Currently I donât think they are.)
- Or, internet retailers have to expand to include physical experiences for their customers.
If I felt the business plan was viable, I would consider re-opening a physical bookshop under one or both of those circumstances.
You had some fun with the closing down sale by updating us all via social media on which books were last to sell. Did this help boost sale sales? Were there some surprises?
Ummm, no, I donât think it helped boost sales. But it did help me stay sane and not yell at people when they walked in wild eyed and started the inevitable set of âbut whyâ âyou canâtâ whatâll I do now?â âwhatâll you do now?â âthe internet is killing us allâ conversations.
The Twitter hashtag #lastbookstanding was really just a distraction for me as things came to an end. Predictably, childrenâs books sold out early. I was interested to see that hardcore reference books (dictionaries, etc) sold out even before childrenâs. I thought Google had killed most of that – but no… not yet.
I was shattered when my two long term favourites (a dog eared Robert Pattinson bio and âYour Horoscope 2011â) were knocked out of the running on the last day. For the record, I was left with only three titles on my âeverything one dollarâ final day: âTop Stocks 2010â, Cliff Notes for Shakespeareâs âThe Tempestâ and Drama Classics Notes for Ibsenâs âThe Dolls House.â I assume the last two were not on this yearâs syllabus.
What will happen to Sunset’s social media channels now?
Iâve switched my Twitter handle from @sunsetbooks to @GregPField and Iâll close down the shopâs Facebook page.
You’ve been an early adopter of new technologies (social media, apps etc) while bookselling. Has this played a role in your decision to move on?
I guess so, Iâm excited by the possibilities opening up via the âdigital revolutionâ.
How did Lazy Dad Studios come about? Any upcoming apps we should know about?
Lazy Dadâs was the result of my quest to create an app. I started investigating ebooks about the same time I got my first iPhone and I immediately realised ebooks could be apps and vice versa. From that point Iâve used many apps and started investigating how to build them.
Recently, I got together with an old uni friend of mine who is now a full time coder and we started Lazy Dad Studios. Our first app, Words4Cards is about to be released, itâs a collection of occasion appropriate quotes and sayings categorised into âFunny Birthdayâ âInspirational Birthdayâ âGet Well Soonâ etc. Each quote has a direct link to Twitter, Facebook and email. Just for fun we also threw in a âshake for randomâ feature which ended up working like âMagic 8 Ballâ except instead of – âconcentrate and ask againâ you get Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde.
You’ve used Wattpad to publish your novel Death on Dangar Island. Why Wattpad? How have you found it as a platform for promoting your work?
Iâve posted the first third of Death on Dangar Island on Wattpad so far. Posting publicly has helped me focus on editing the manuscript to the best of my ability. I love writing and hate editing, so I can get lazy when it comes to going over my work and tightening it up. Posting on Wattpad in small sections helps me get through that.
The story is a murder mystery and I would love people to start reading it and trying to figure out who the killer is, but promoting my work and building a platform using Wattpad is actually secondary at this stage. The user interface on Wattpad is good, they make it easy to post and edit your story. I think of it as a working version of the manuscript available for public scrutiny and comment.
Are Lazy Dad Studios and writing your main gigs these days? Any other work/projects on the cards?
Yes, at the moment. I have some ideas about the future of book retailing that I would be interested to work on down the track.
I reckon booksellers are exactly the kinds of people who can succeed in the world of digital publishing. Would you agree, and if so, why?
Experienced booksellers could make ideal digital publishers; they have business skills, the marketing skills and an eye for a decent book. Many traditional booksellers would have to make an adjustment to the digital world if they wanted to participate, although there are some I can think of that would be ideally suited to the role.
Many of us feel torn between lamenting the demise of the book world we’ve known and loved, yet embrace emerging opportunities in the sector. Â What will you miss the most about your ten years running Sunset, and what do you look forward to most about this brave new era in your life?
The smell of the place, the splendid, slowly moving panorama of covers and titles. Friendly customers sauntering through, stopping every now and then to inspect a title thatâs taken their fancy. Little children laughing with glee as they run through the doors. The warm, intelligent people that have been my colleagues and peers. Thatâs the good stuff.
I look forward to working hard at something fresh and new and to the challenges and opportunities that arise from my current projects.
(Phew – that was a cathartic experience.)
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Some time last year, Erica Wagner, Publisher at Allen and Unwin, is reported as having said that there was a lot to be gained by having a text already illustrated [not that Allen & Unwin published picture books]. This is seemingly a change in direction.
Some writers/illustrators I know have recently signed contracts for âprint readyâ books.Â This is not self-publishing, but submission to a royalty paying publisher of a book that is âready to goâ in publishing terms.
What constitutes a âprint readyâ book? Â It is a book that has been -
- professionally edited,
- proofread, has been
- designed to industry standards,
- professionally designed cover and,
- if illustrated, has all images appropriately set.
This is a great way to go for authors who are able to pay illustrators and book designers up front. Most authors are not able to do this.Â This then means all creators involved in a book project agreeing to royalty share and working between paid projects to collaborate on their book.
What have I gleaned about such âprint readyâ deals? One company, smaller and reasonably new, offered a small advance and a good contract, by industry standards, with higher than regular royalty share for creators. An offer of help with promotion was also part of the deal. Another company, medium sized and established, offered no advance but better than average royalty shares for creators and help with promotion and marketing of the book.
How does this stack up against what is generally on offer now?
- Small and middle range publishers, in general, do not offer advances.
- Larger publishers offer advances depending on the book, depending on the author, and depending on the agent involved.
- Smaller and middle range publishers often [there are exceptions] expect the author to do it all in relation to promotion, even requiring the submission of a marketing plan.
- Larger publishers vary greatly as to how much promotion they will give a book.
- Generally, publishers will submit copies of their publishing output for major awards, such as the CBCA, and to a selection of leading review outlets.
What’s the down side for author, illustrator, book designer, [often the illustrator], to go down theÂ âprint readyâ publishing path?
- It IS a lot of extra work for all creators involved to ensure the book is âprofessionalâ standard even before it is submitted.
- There is no money upfront.
Are the rewards worth the effort?
- If you love collaborative work, it is a big plus.
- Creators have much more project control to create the book they have collaboratively envisaged.
- A quality product, ‘print ready’,Â is a major bargaining point for creators/agents. ‘Print ready’ saves the publisher heaps!
The first company mentioned does small print runs, sells out their print runs, reprints and even sells out reprints and so it seems to be gradually snowballing.
It is too early to know in the second instance.Â [Iâll keep you posted!]
My feeling is that, if Erica Wagner was sensing a âtrendâ and if these companies make a success of it, we will see more such deals.Â It’s something to think about!
To be launched end of June – “Toofs!” a collaboration between J.R. and Estelle A.Poulter an illustrators Monica Rondino and Andrea Pucci. More to come on what was a ‘print ready’ deal.
TOOFS by J.R.Poulter & Estelle A. Poulter, illustrated by Monica Rondino & Andrea Pucci
Mo Willems and his pigeon. Smile material. Masterful picture books!
In 2011, Mo was invited to give the prestigious Zena Sutherland Lecture. He titled his talk "Why Books?"
Here are some highlights:
"Always think of your audience; never think for your audience."
"If I re-read one of my manuscripts and I understand exactly what is happening, then the manuscript has too many words. And if I look at the images without the words and I can fully understand the story, there are too many drawings."
On enhanced digital books: ". . . after we turn them on, they don't need us. Turn it on and leave the room, and the book will read itself."
On real books: "But a real book is helpless. It needs us desperately. We have to pull it off the shelf. We have to open it up. We have to turn the pages, one by one. We even have to use our imagination to make it work. . . . So maybe books work because they make us work. Maybe we need them for needing us, just like we need real friends, not the digital imitations on Facebook."
Well said. Do you agree?
Photo credit: Marty Umans
By: Julie Whelan,
Blog: The Paper Wait
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Writing conferences stimulate my creativity, so I try get to at least one every year. But in recent years, market reviews were so discouraging -- fewer publishers acquiring fewer books for fewer bookstores -- I left wondering about my choice of profession.
The SCBWI Winter Conference in January was different. The air bubbled with fresh optimism and renewed enthusiasm (amid familiar cautions, of course).
- The childrenâs market is âvery robustâ (Ken Wright, Agent, Writers House). Kids are still reading real books (Chris Richman, Agent, Upstart Crow Literary).
- Imprints for YA have increased in the last three years (Regina Brooks, Founder and President, Serendipity Litereary Agency, LLC)
- MG is the new YA (Regina Brooks) with rising popularity and market potential. YA and MG will continue to grow.
- Picture Books are âalive and wellâ (Nancy Paulsen, Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin). Digital books, so far, seem to be an incremental purchase rather than a cannibalistic one. Parents like a book which is already on their bookshelf, and buy a digital copy for travel purposes.
- Non-fiction is underestimated (Ken Wright). National Geographic and Discover are doing more, and make NF commercial enough for Barnes & Noble. A number of NF titles have appeared in the National Book Award lists.
- The Best Seller Mentality: traditional publisherâs lists are narrower and more focused. They want the books they publish to do very well, theoretically translating to more support for those titles and authors.
- Differences between genres will blur as writers seek new and fresh material. (Ginger Knowlton, Agent, Curtis Brown LTD)
The landscape is becoming more defined, and more certainty enables the market to move forward. Publishers have mostly stopped merging and wringing their hands. E-books, digital devices and self-publishing are part of the future, but are now more tangible and predictable. Personally, I write MG fiction (as well as PBs), so I was pleased to hear MG is âthe new YAâ, and note that many editors list it as one of their needs. Now I have to use my conference-inspired enthusiasm to follow up with those agents and editors who said it. Whatâs your feel about the childrenâs market? Do you agree or disagree? Any good news to share?
- Amazon: Is it a big bully? âDiscoverabilityâ is a problem here.
- Transmedia: How will digital evolution continue to change and impact books? Again, âdiscoverabilityâ can be difficult in the digital world. New devices generate a need for new content, but beware smaller margins and fierce competition. As kids inherit digital devices from their parents, what effect will this have?
- Continued consolidation of the traditional bookstore. Where will it end?
Early in the summer of 2009âmany digital generations agoâHarperCollins set out to experiment with several iPhone/iPod Touch apps. We decided to create two apps based on easily searchable and popular topics (example: ABC), and one app based on a classic and best-selling picture book. The staff at Greenwillow Books was charged with figuring out how to make an app of Freight Train, by Donald Crews. Don was happy and willing to experiment, and we were off and running. At that time the field was wide open, and there werenât many models for us to emulate. Now the technology has evolved so that picture books are adapted as interactive e-books as well as apps, and many of the challenges and frustrations we faced have been replaced by new ones. But here is a record of what it was like in the dinosaur days of electronic publishing.
Our goals for the project were as follows:
1. Create a child-centered app that would be played again and again.
2. Deliver enjoyable interactions with an educational component, excellent music, and surprises.
3. Promote the author and his books; remain true to the authorâs vision.
4. Experiment and learn about the business models and about the creative process.
We chose Freight Train for several key reasons. It is an award-winning picture book with sales of more than a million copies. The art is simple and clean and would translate beautifully to the small screen. The subject matter is perfect for the intended audience. The book is linear (it literally moves along one track), so translating to the app experience was possible without creating additional art or files. We could see much potential for interactivity. There was well-known age-appropriate music in the public domain that we could use to enhance the experience for kids. We also had a Spanish version of Freight Train, so we would be able to make the app in two languages. We were further fortunate because Don had created Inside Freight Train (2001), a novelty board book featuring pages that slid open to reveal the contents of the freight cars, so we already had great additional art to use.
Step One: The Editorsâ Storyboards
The first thing we did was to storyboard the app as sequential screens. We imagined interactions, sounds, and movement. We thought about the pacing and how we were going to keep kids engaged and surprised. Freight Train (the book) has two distinct partsâthe introduction of the cars, before the train moves, and the pages showing the train moving through the landscape. This was a challenge, because we realized that the interactions would primarily happen in the first half of the app. The second half of the app would basically be a movie. We trusted that the magic of the bookâs pacing would translate to the app format. We showed our storyboards to several developers and chose a developer who shared our vision.
Step Two: Donâs Storyboard
After we had a developer on board, Don brought his own ideas to the process and refined the rough editorial storyboards for the developer. He also weighed in on music, sound effects, and design.
Step Three: The Developer
Our developer then created detailed storyboards, told us what was possible technically (and what was not), suggested revisions, and encouraged us to move away from the book in order to deliver more interesting interactions, such as an addictive game featuring a mechanical scoop kids could manipulate to load and unload the cargo in the gondola car. But Don opted to remain true to his original work at all times, resisting a suggestion, for example, to introduce an animated opening sequence featuring music and
The New York TimesÂ and I think alike about the temptations that beset iPad reading. And having acquired an iPhone this weekend, I don’t see my concentration getting any better.
I haven't gone a week without some sort of blathering blog post in nearly five years. Five years.
I missed blogging, slightly, but I've been busy--I wish I was busy writing the great American (horror) novel, but I haven't.
My grandfather passed away on my birthday. He was 97, so it wasn't exactly unexpected, but all the same... death is always sad. We had to adjust spring break travel plans and come home a day early from our little trip to Omaha (zoo, water park...) My mother-in-law stayed with us for three days (breathe...) I got a new job (guidance counselor at the same school) And my Amazon KDP account was blocked.
I'd had a few books for sale under pseudonyms which were compiled of material from my years as an English teacher. Evidently, these were considered "freely available on the internet". Amazon warned me once and blocked a book. Three days later, my account was shut down. I've received nothing but form replies to my queries.Form replies never answer very specific questions.
Me? Bewildered. Sad. Frustrated. Maybe I was a little too ambitious, but I really didn't think anything I was doing violated the TOS. Of course that TOS is slightly ambiguous in parts. I would have unpublished all of my books and started from scratch had I enough foresight, but alas... I didn't.
Amazon, here's a plea from me to future independent authors: Please complete a more thorough review of books before allowing them to be published (you suggest 24-48 hours, but most books are up within 12). Every book you took issue with had been for sale for weeks (if not months) before I had any indication I'd stepped over a line (a line I continued to step over with no warning).
What do I do now? Find a publisher for my books?
And keep writing. Keep writing.
Roadblocks are just roadblocks. There's more than one way to Omaha.
By: Elena Ornig,
Blog: Anwers from digital publisher
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Answers from Publisher
The real number of the authors in Australia can be only estimated approximately. So far, the figure is between 5,000 -10,000 authors that are considered to be fully employed or employed as a part-time. However, the authors now becoming the publishers by adding numbers of the authors quite significantly. Go figure it out!
Internet puts everything in different perspective for the publishing industry as a whole. Regardless to many changes, every country is trying to âsaveâ their publishing industry against the unavoidable globalization and legal reformation of publishing industry, internationally. Australia takes these changes seriously, in order to protect its own publishing industry by shielding it from foreign competition, respectively through import restrictions.
Basically we are talking about availability, price and quality matter of the books. . In order to protect copyright beyond the borders, Australia had signed two international agreements: 1886Â Berne Convention for theÂ Protection of Literary and Artistic WorksÂ and ...
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By: Roger Sutton
Blog: Read Roger - The Horn Book editor's rants and raves
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Like you (Iâm guessing), I felt my soul give a little lurch at the news that Encyclopaedia Britannica was getting out of the book business to go online, all the time. Part of my reaction was nostalgiaâwhen I was a child we owned the first four or five volumes of some encyclopedia that my parents had picked up as a supermarket premium, and I would browse them endlessly. As any devotee of the Guinness World Records or the Farmersâ Almanac can tell you, itâs fun to pinball around within the structure a reference book gives you: it has rules so you donât have to.
But as a librarian, I understand that digital reference sources, done right, have it all over print. The online Britannica is no less authoritative, arguably more so because it is more quickly updated than print. Itâs still browsable and inspiring of serendipity: having secured a trial subscription for the purposes of writing this editorial, Iâm having trouble keeping myself on task. Wikipedia without shame! Less expensive (given you have the means to access it, which is a big given) than print and more compactâwhatâs not to like?
Here is the question for childrenâs book people, though. Does the thought of a kid whizzing his or her way around an electronic reference source give us as much satisfaction as the picture of a kid doing the same thing with a printed book? I thought not. Whether librarian, teacher, publisher, or writer, when we say that at least part of our shared goal is to promote the âlove of reading,â what we have always meant is the âlove of books.â (Some books.) What will our goal be once books no longer provide our common core?
This is partially a question about e-books. Yes, e-books are books, and libraries want to buy them and enthusiastically promote their circulation to library patrons, who demonstrably want to read them. But publishers complain that they need âfrictionâ to ensure that library borrowing doesnât take too much of a bite from consumer purchases, and libraries are put into the position of licensing rather than acquiring e-books, just another borrower in the chain. However, this economic tussle is only an early warning sign of the real problem that librarians and (as Stephen Roxburgh argued in the March/April 2012 Horn Book) publishers face: thanks to the leveling power of the internet, electronic literature doesnât need either one of us, at least as we currently understand our respective missions.
But this is also a question about the independence of readers. In libraries, even those kids who wouldnât talk to a librarian if their lives depended on it rely far more than they know on the professional expertise provided by the libraryâs staff, systems, and policies. Readersâ advisory is found as much in the shelving as it is in a friendly chat. When we are reading online, however, we are far more on our own, for good (we can read what we want when we want it) or ill (finding what we want to read can be an adventure beset by false leads, commercial interests, and invasions of privacy).
What can childrenâs book people become? I reveal my fantasy of what we could make of the future on page 16 of this issue, but in reality what we need to do is to redefine our gatekeeping role. Along with giving up any notion that the only real reading is book reading, like the online Britannica we have to believe in our own expertise and convince others that our knowledge is worth attending to. Weâve spent more than a century dedicated to the idea that some reading is better than other reading, an elitist position we can defend by pointing to decades of excellence in books for youth. Publishers and librarians together, we made that happen. Let us continue to do so.
Blog: Jrpoulter's Weblog
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I have found the opportunity toÂ collaborateÂ with illustratorsÂ somethingÂ eminently rewarding, an experience that Â enriches both participants and results in a more vibrant and much richer work. My first picture book,Â “Mending Lucille”Â was also a result of aÂ collaboration.Â Working with the amazingÂ Sarah DavisÂ was inspirational! I have gone on to collaborate closely with illustrators all over the world to create numbers of other picture books, some digitally published, some in process with print publishers and some I am still researching the right publishing outlet. Finding the ‘right’ outlet is very important. Not every publisher is ‘right’ for every book.
I have had the pleasure of collaborating with first time picture book illustrators,Â Jade PottsÂ [USA],Â Jonas SahlstromÂ [Sweden],Â Alexandra KrasuskaÂ [Sweden] and fellow Aussie,Â Jodi MagiÂ [now ofÂ Abu-Dhabi] on uTales, and am about to have my latest collaboration, “Little Dragons’ Babysitter” released withÂ Caroline Lee. Utales is non-exclusive which means Â creators can take advantage of other Â opportunities for their work as they arise.Â I have just signed aÂ contractÂ withÂ Flying Books, Islreal, for “Rich Man, Poor Man” the book I did with Jodi Magi. My first digital collaboration is on www.istorytime,Â “At the Beach with Bucket and Spade”Â withÂ Sarah Bash GleesonÂ [USA], whom I met on JacketFlap.com, a wonderful children’s literature networking site along with many other amazing and inspiring folk. Sarah is editor of magazine,Â “Dream Chaser”Â which focusses on children’s books and their creators.
Joanna Marple’s mini review of my latest digital book, “Xengu and the Turn of Tide”:
“A Tolkienesque tale, I love it!”
See a review of her first picture book in my last blog post with links to her interview with Darshana Shah Khiani on “Flowering Minds“.
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By happy accident, IÂ discoveredÂ the Â way to travel interstate, overseas,Â inter-culturallyÂ and explore the Â ambience of remote towns, cities, country lanes and outback outposts. Air tickets – well that’s the ideal, but no, I used Google Earth.
It started with my tryingÂ toÂ locate aÂ lovelyÂ country home in West Hougham, Kent, England. It was featured in Country Life for September 7th, 2000, and was the
Inspiration for “The Dolls’ House in the Forest”
inspiration for my story “The Dolls’ House in the Forest”. I was fascinated by the quaintness of the architecture compared to anything out here in Oz and the size of the immense, almost regal trees forming a perfect backdrop to the house. I tried to relocate the house by doing a ‘street view’ saunter down English lanes in the vicinity. Â I located the area on the map and zeroed in from aerial to ‘here I am virtually walking down this street on the other side of the world the environs of which I just happen to needÂ toÂ explore.’
I didn’t find the house, but I had the most wonderfully inspiring time wandering downÂ countryÂ lanes that were little more than wagon tracks, great boughs canopying overhead and wildflowers dotted in the fields…
Now, if I need to captureÂ somethingÂ of the ‘feel’ of an area. I seek out an address. Then in I go and wander around, exploring the architecture, streetscapes, lifestyles evidenced in things as random as Â street art, vergeÂ gardens, bus stops, signage, graffiti, shop window decor, fences or lack of, litter, strays and the bystanders to my wanderings.
I have also found that Â exploring the Realtor advertisements in the area I am exploring gives insight into the inhabitants of the town. Many homes Â give a slideshow or even a video tour online. Â This helps you pick up on details of life – home decor, layout, from wall hangings to Â cushions, scatter rugs to artwork, theÂ placementÂ of chairs to take in a much loved outlook, the windows and their views out, the garden.
Perhaps this sounds a little bit the voyeur. It is not the intention, far from, it is seeking faithfulness in recreating a Â ’feeling’ for place. It is gathering the elements of story , setting the stage, arranging a convincing backdrop to the action!
2 Comments on Researching the environment of story, last added: 5/23/2012