Friday 7 May 2010

How To Get Your Apps Noticed - Elly Minus Emma Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog titled "Acquisitions, Apps, Reindeer and a Girl called Emma", which garnered a lot of interest as it was tweeted around both writers and illustrators. The post dealt with the revolution in publishing which has occurred almost unnoticed with the debut of the App. But essentially as I illustrated using the example of my friend and colleague Jon Higham, the arrival of a piece of technology which circumvents the need for books to impact upon a readership as a physical entity with all the attendant overheads of printing, distribution, retailing cost, not to mention all the overheads incurred by leviathon sized publishers has liberated creators both in terms of getting their product out there and in terms of the rewards that they can garner for themselves.

To briefly recap on some of the salient points about Jon's "Elly The Reindeer".

He first conceived the idea for a series of early readers featuring Elly about two years ago, the project was then handled by his high profile literary agent and tarted around all the relevant publishers, where it gently languished on the in-trays, until it dawned on his agent that, "the market for children's picture books had just got too difficult to divine what exactly it was that publishers were looking for". She reluctantly handed back the proposal saying that she was going to abandon the field of picture books altogether and concentrate her energies on teenage fiction.

Disappointed but undeterred Jon didn't give up on Elly, instead he did what any publisher of vision and determination could have done, he hooked up with a developer in Mumbai and at zero outlay apart from time and effort he and Dipali Vaidya created the first of what is rapidly turning into an ongoing series of books for initially the IPod Touch and now the IPad. Jon then assiduously and energetically promoted the series on key App Review sites, he did his promotion as an owner/creator of the series and not as a monolithic corporation whose main focus is tried and tested product with guaranteed sales figures rather than new talent.

Elly was up and out there before U.K. publishers had returned from Bologna excitedly talking about Apps and thinking about what might be on their back lists. Doubtless unaware that they'd even once been offered the chance of a stake in Elly.

What had quietly occurred was that for once a creative team had stolen a march on the corporate behemoths that currently (the word is chosen carefully) dominate U.K. publishing with corporate thinking and endless committee meetings.

And here pop pickers, "Owzabowthatthenguyzngalz" is your top 70 IPad books.

You'll notice that the first three Elly books are at number 30, 56 and 58.

You'll also notice that Elly is the only new and original children's property launched directly to App.

The evidence speaks for itself.


  1. This is not only a fantastic vindication of Jon's creative vision, but a signpost of how writers and artists can free themselves from the deadening effect of Emmas everywhere.

    I'm sure that those publishers will all come out of the woodwork now, begging for the chance to publish the Elly books in print. Stick it to 'em, Jon ;-)

  2. I was speaking to Jon last night Dave and to say that he's really enthused about the opportunities that Apps present to creatives would be an understatement.

    Not that I think it's going to be easy, especially now that the brain in the tail of the Brontosaur has started sending messages to the equally small brain in the head of the beast that Apps may well be more than a nine day wonder. We're shortly going to see the ITunes store awash with Banners and Pop Ups from the big beasts of publishing but it still creates huge opportunities for creator/publishers and smaller (and fairer) publishers to market their wares in a more even playing field.

  3. I totally agree, Peter. The only publisher who really seems to understand the possibilities for apps is Kate Wilson at Nosy Crow. All the others are still just thinking of it as business as usual but on a new reading device. But then crows are a lot brighter and more nimble than their dinosaur ancestors.

  4. The great thing with Jon's apps is his price point. I don't think the big ol' publishers can compete, even with their back lists because they've got all their massive internal overheads (exec lunches, etc.) to fund. Meanwhile Jon and Dipali are reaping more, in pence per sale, than even a generous publishing contract would generate. The publishers will quickly discover there's very little space for them in the digital book market.

  5. For some reason I keep imagining Brennan Brown and Steve Furst (from the Orange adverts) as a pair of high-powered publishing executives determined to acquire Elly for their own apps platform:

    "...OK, so she's a reindeer - but she's a ninja reindeer, and get this: her antlers are made of retractable razor-sharp adamantium, and every time she uses them they go 'SNIKT!'"

  6. I think Jon's little girl Holly might be well up for the Ninja Reindeer idea.

    Only recently turned five she's already a keen student of Studio Ghibli - in fact I think she's seen all the films and several of them many times over.

  7. Thanks guys for all your supportive comments - it counts for a lot - just seen the price of the ipad, its a teeny bit ouch ! Thought it might come in around £350 (even that is more than the dollar conversion) which sounds a tad better than £429 for the basic ipad...mmm, wonder if they'll sell as well at that price over in the UK - it's churlish really because my first Mac in the 1990's cost the equivalent of a small caravan but then again technology's plummeted and we're all used to cheapness - a friend bought a mobile phone new for a tenner the other day.....