What’s next after self-publishing a children’s book?
I have been developing and publishing children’s story apps long before I ever dabbled in print or electronic books. The latter came about a few years ago when I managed a children’s storybook project on behalf of a new author at the time. She had a well written storybook on nutrition and needed someone to work on the illustrations, cover design, layout and publication via Amazon’s print-on-demand service. It was an enlightening process as it introduced me to the world of self-publishing.
Following that, I decided to release spin-off versions of my existing apps at the time as books. I picked one of my most popular titles, a Yoruba language-learning app and spun its sequel as an interactive app (Android and iOS) as well as a Paperback and Kindle book. It was still an experimental process as I sought to better understand the larger dynamics of self-publishing — sales, marketing, audience, standards, distribution to mention a few. Another valuable outcome of the experience was a growing understanding of how content for one platform (apps) could be optimized to serve other outlets (print, e-books), thus reaching more audiences, creating diversified income streams among other benefits. It established the foundation for what I’ve since come to describe as the principle of re-usability or re-purposing where assets serve multiple purposes in the product pipeline.
Today, I have an increasing appetite for children’s books. I’m constantly shopping for children’s books every month for my daughter, Funke. On another hand, I find that a book makes a good gift especially for other kids so it’s my go-to option for birthdays. Lastly, I’m also drawing inspiration from the works of others as I work towards a new genre of children’s books.
With my aspirations, I’ve been thinking more about the product pipeline for self-published children’s authors. What avenues exist to maximize their investments? Publishing a children’s book is a relatively expensive venture considering costs like illustrations which is usually outsourced. Within the context of my experience, it’s not uncommon to ask what becomes of my assets — illustrations, story texts, audio etc. afterwards? Specifically, what could I make of the content of my book after publishing it? Or to put it better, what else could I be doing with my book content to drive more sales? Understandably, self-published authors want a return on their investments even if writing is a side-hustle for some. Hence, what options are available using existing assets even if in varying forms?
Coming from an app-first approach background, I could flip the same questions above and still arrive at the same conclusion — optimal use of my assets to drive sales. That’s my thought process as I delve deeper into self-publishing.
The natural procession it seems for self-published authors is to develop more books to meet the cravings of readers. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m talking options outside the world of print and electronic books. With a growing library of children’s books, many times when I finish reading one, I imagine what these interesting books would be like if brought alive in form of apps or videos. Yet, I do not think this is exactly news. All around us, we see how some companies creatively build multiple products around one brand. Think of your child’s favourite cartoon that’s also available as toys, posters, books, apps etc. Rather, I think it’s more a question of how to proceed and in what order given our limited resources as self-published authors.
As I re-engage the world of self-publishing for my new genre of book ideas, interactive story apps are a huge part of my product pipeline owing to my experience and understanding of the industry. I think interactive story apps should also form part of the product pipeline for more children’s storybook authors. It has the added benefit of making a story come alive using the same illustrations and texts already created for a print book. In other words, same assets, different products. I also think they are a good addition or spin-off for any successful book title going by the distinct features that come with mobile phones, tablets and PCs.
The App market is still hugely popular with its own distinct markets, business model etc. So, why does it seem like self-published authors aren’t keen to take advantage of it? I had this conversation with a recent client of mine and it turns out it’s more to do with a lack of understanding of the space. As much as she likes the idea of spinning her book into an app, she does not understand the process enough to make an informed decision. She has questions around if it’ll be worth the investment, how she’ll make money from it, distribution channels, expertise required etc. Understandably so!
To that end, I’ll be sharing from my experience and demystifying the subject of interactive story apps in subsequent write-ups.