Sunday, September 16, 2012

Guest Post: Elizabeth O. Dulemba on Lula's Brew: What's Your Reading Flavor?

By Elizabeth O. Dulemba
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Hardcover, paperback, ebook, app. Today we have more ways to enjoy our books than ever. And I’ve explored them all with my picture book Lula's Brew.

The book began its life as a picture dummy that, despite winning the Grand Prize in the SmartWriters competition way back in 2007, didn’t sell to a major publishing house. I tucked it away in a drawer until the invention of the iPhone app in 2009. Something told me they were going to be big and Lula was the perfect fit - short, funny, the sketches were finished.

I pulled her out, dusted her off, and turned her into an app - just in time for Halloween.

Back then, Lula's Brew was one of the very first picture book apps, so she got fantastic exposure. She was featured in the iTunes store for months, as well as on the popular blog “Moms With Apps.” When the iPad came out, I adapted her for that device too and she ended up being downloaded over 10,000 times - pretty good!

I had created something new and people wanted to know about it. I sold articles to trade magazines, did some very high tech school visits, and spoke at various conferences about creating apps.

But as the app world became overrun, and iTunes’ search engine failed to improve, I began to have my doubts about apps as a viable money-making option for picture books. I turned her into an ebook for the Nook and Kindle just to be sure. But again, the chance of a reader stumbling across her online was nil.

And all the while, Lula fans were emailing me asking, “Where can I buy the book?”

Copyright Elizabeth O. Dulemba; used with permission.
In this world of reading transition, the need for picture books as physical page-turners has not diminished. My little cousins use my iPad to play games - for them, it’s not a place to read. A book is where they do that - still. And I don’t see that changing.

I considered self publishing. But I am well aware of the work involved in becoming a publisher and distributor - it is no small task. And besides the upfront cost of creating a quality print picture book, when would I ever have time to write and illustrate again?


So when I read in Shelf Awareness (July 26, 2012) that a little publisher out of California, Xist Publishing, was taking picture ebooks and turning them into apps, I got in touch immediately. They flipped over Lula's Brew and now, finally, she is a book. '

She’ll be physically available in early October with pre-order sales for dedicated/signed copies open now  through my local independent children’s bookstore, Little Shop of Stories (404.373.6300).

So, what’s your flavor? ebook or app - I say Lula's Brew - the book!

Cynsational Notes

Elizabeth O. Dulemba on Promoting a Book App from Cynsations. See more information on Lula's Brew, including a word find puzzle, coloring pages, and computer wallpaper.

Copyright Elizabeth O. Dulemba; used with permission.

5 comments:

Samantha Clark said...

Great post, Elizabeth. I've read some studies that suggest that ebook readers are still also the biggest buyers of physical books. And I'd say for children, this makes a lot of sense. For parents who grew up on picture books, they want that experience of turning the pages with a child that you just can't replicate with an electronic version.

And once they're introduced to picture books, children love them too, being able to touch them, physically turn the pages, open and close the book.

While I am a fan of the new ebook/app revolution, I'm happy to see that one of its successes is bringing readers to physical books as well as stories.

Julie Hedlund said...

Such an inspiring story, and good to know there are many ways to get books into the hands of children who want them!

Diane Dawson Hearn said...

This is great news, Elizabeth, both for Lula's Brew and for people like me who are still haven't jumped onto the technology bandwagon. I wish you all kinds of luck with Lula, the book. It'll be so nice that children will be able to see those illustrations nice and large, feel the paper, turn the pages, take the book to bed with them and maybe even save it to pass on to their kids.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Thanks so much for having me on Cynthia!!

Samantha and Julie - That's what we're counting on. People seem to want choices rather than be tied into one way to enjoy their stories. An app is great for out and about at the grocery store, in a restaurant, on a plane. But for story time at bedtime, nothing can replace a real book!

Diane, Thanks for the love! Seeing Lula in book form is my dream come true!

:)
e

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Can't wait to get my hardcopy of Lula's Brew! What a journey!

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