Creating a Children’s eBook Tips

As I begin to wrap up my second children’s eBook (Colin Turtle Books), I figured I’d offer some advice about my process to help anyone else who is interested in creating a children’s eBook. I am far from an expert in the field, but here are a few things that I’ve learned and some tricks I use.

Step 1: Writing the Story

I usually start writing out ideas for a storyline, the script, and ideas for interactive elements in Evernote. The reason I choose Evernote is because it installs on your PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices and syncs your notes in their cloud service. So no matter where you are, you can open up your notes and jot down ideas as they come to you. Usually inspiration doesn’t come to me when I’m in front of a laptop trying to write, so it’s nice being able to type up an idea on my phone wherever I am at the time.

Interactivity Notes in Evernote
Interactivity Notes in Evernote

Step 2: Artwork

My software of choice for drawing is Adobe Flash. It works well with Wacom drawing tablets, it has the ability to export .png sequences and sprite sheets, and it’s handy for drawing animations. I usually do a layer of text where I layout the script in different keyframes, and then I do a layer of rough sketches just to storyboard the script. Then I begin to draw the characters, background, animations, etc. Once the artwork is completed I’ll export the frames out as .png files.

Drawing Artwork in Flash
Drawing Artwork in Flash

Step 3: Sprite Sheets

For the animations, I’ll take the .png sequences or individual movies clips epxorted as .swf files and import them into a sprite sheet creator. You can review some of the creators that I use throughout my blog, but here are some of my favorites.

Different Sprite Sheet Creators
Different Sprite Sheet Creators

Step 4: Sound Effects & Narration

For sound, I use a variety of sources. A lot of sounds I’ll record myself to save some money (see my previous blog post about recording sound on a budget), but some sounds I’ll get from free sound effects websites and from the sound library built into GarageBand. For my first children’s book “The Perfect Pillow“, my sister-in-law Leslie was kind enough to narrate and voice act for the project. For text highlighting, I use Audacity and assign labels to each word spoken in the narration track.

Assigning Text Labels in Audacity
Assigning Text Labels in Audacity

Step 5: Programming

If you’re familiar with Xcode and Objective-C, Cocos2D is a great way to create eBooks for iOS devices. If you’re not sure how to get started creating an eBook using this method, Justin at Cartoon Smart offers a fantastic video tutorial series. If you’re not familiar with Objective-C, you can still create an interactive eBook using Kwik software, which allows you to build the book in Photoshop using layers. I’ve used both methods, but since I don’t have a background in C programming, Kwik was easier to use for me.

Creating a Book in Xcode
Creating a Book in Xcode

Step 6: Marketing

This is often an overlooked step, but it’s one of the most important. Relying on the Amazon App Store, Google Play Store and Apple App Store to market your book is probably not going to get you a lot of sales unless you’re Rovio and you just created the next Angry Birds game. A few ways that I have advertised my book have been blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, interviews, promo code contests, and getting companies to review your book. Getting people excited about the book before it’s released it important so the sooner you get your book’s name out on the internet, the better,

I hope this has helped you understand what goes into an eBook when you’re a one-person studio. It’s not difficult to get into the market if you follow a few steps. More importantly, it should be fun. If you’re not enjoying creating your book, perhaps you should look into just doing one aspect of it and outsourcing the rest of the steps.

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