Why I Put Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books on the Back Burner: For Now – Guest Post by Brooks Jones

| February 27, 2013 | 1 Comment
Brooks Jones is the author/illustrator of the original storybook app, I Don’t Like Pink. She has also published a craft how-to book, Planet Pouch: Simple Juice Pouch Bags Anyone Can Make, now available on Amazon for the Kindle. In 2011, she founded a weekly chat on twitter for story book app creators, called #storyappchat.
In May of 2011, I partnered with PicPocket Books to publish my first children’s picture book I Don’t Like Pink! as an iOS app. This process was the culmination of a long-held aspiration of mine: to publish stories and get them in the hands of kids everywhere. The relationship I have with PicPocket is great, and I’ve written rough drafts of at least two more stories (and I have ideas for many more).
So why haven’t I completed another children’s picture book? Why, in fact, did I begin working on craft books and patterns instead?

The answer lies in the harsh realities of the app and ebook economy. My app is priced competitively at $1.99 for the iPad version, and 99¢ for the iPhone. Most storybook apps like mine are priced similarly, especially if they come from an unknown author (like myself). So I have trouble justifying a higher price for my app.

The trouble is, even with a generous revenue split like the one I enjoy with PicPocket, my share of the sales of my app aren’t enough to support myself, and they wouldn’t be even if I had another book or two in the App Store. With each passing day it becomes harder and harder to get noticed there, because of the explosion of new apps that continue to flood the market.
Contrast this with the sort of detailed, step-by-step craft patterns I’ve been working on lately. People who buy craft patterns are used to spending anywhere from $3 to $5 or more for a single set of instructions. Also, I have the software and know-how to create and publish a multi-page PDF all by myself–no coding required.
Incredibly, Craftsy allows me to list my craft patterns for sale for free–they don’t even charge a commission on sales. Other sites like EtsyRavelry and Scribd, where my patterns are also available, do charge listing and/or commission fees, which certainly seems fair. Obviously the market for craft books and patterns is smaller than the one for children’s picture books (and apps), but what I may lose in volume I hope to make up in price.

Another big advantage to creating something in PDF format is that unlike an app, I create a single version that doesn’t need to be updated each time Apple rolls a new version of the iOS. Occasionally I run into someone who has trouble opening up the file with an outdated version of Acrobat Reader, but this issue pops up less and less often as people gain familiarity with Acrobat.
I do enjoy working on the how-to sheets, and my hope is that someday the income from the craft patterns will allow me to continue work on my children’s stories. In the meantime, I work a part-time day job to pay the bills and am working toward a master’s degree in education. I also try to draw on a regular basis–many of my doodles and sketches show up on my Instagram feed.
And last but certainly not least, a couple of years ago I founded and co-host #storyappchat, a weekly Twitter get-together where we discuss all things related to creating storybook apps and ebooks for kids.
This helps me stay current with the rapidly-changing technology, and I love forging connections with the storybook app community. These are some of the nicest and most supportive people I’ve ever encountered online, and if you aren’t busy on Sunday nights, please consider joining us.
But the story ideas keep coming, and I write the good ones down. Good thing I’m not in a hurry, and I plan to be around for a while. For now, I’ll keep building my digital crafts offerings until I can afford to illustrate more of my story ideas–stay tuned!
Brooks Jones is a writer/illustrator of children’s picture books and craft how-to books and patterns. Her original storybook app, I Don’t Like Pink, is available on iTunes and her craft how-to book, Planet Pouch: Simple Juice Pouch Bags Anyone Can Make is now available at Amazon for the Kindle. Find out more about Brooks at brooksjones.com.

Category: All About Apps, Guest Posts, Marketing Apps

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of Digital-Storytime.com, an iPad children's book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.

Comments (1)

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  1. Loreen Leedy says:

    Brooks, it looks like we’ve on a similar wavelength, too funny…can’t argue with economic reality! You’ve gone with craft patterns, I’ve gone with teaching resources (while still writing and illustrating my traditionally published picture books.) In addition to using PDF format, I also made a picture book with simple animations in PowerPoint format…another oldie but goodie in the world of formats!

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