Apps for Authors

imageChristine sent me this link, and for that I owe her a heaping ton of sanity, not just on my own behalf but on behalf of another mom in another waiting room. Check this out:

Children’s author Elizabeth O. Dulemba has a new children’s book released as an app for the iPhone. For $1.99 you get a sliding page story, plus Elizabeth herself reading the pages to you. The child reading/listening to the book can keep their own pace turning the pages – and we all know how easy it is for a child to operate an iPhone. Freebird loved having a story to read and listen to while we were waiting in a restaurant, and when I was in the doctor’s waiting office this weekend, I lent my phone to another mom whose 4 year old was ready to start climbing the walls from boredom.

What a smart way to promote yourself. Christine tells me that as a children’s librarian she loves finding authors who offer other items as promotional tools, and Dulemba releases a weekly coloring sheet to those on her mailing list (Boy, howdy, am I signing up for that now).

This got my thinking: how can romance authors use iPhone apps as reading options and promotional tools? What additional promotional items can a romance author offer to promote herself in between books? Dulemba is in a unique position in that she is both an author and illustrator (and her illustrations are SO cute) but I think there’s room for romance authors to offer similar products, especially as apps.

Of course, with the iPhone, there’s that lovely approval process for submissions, with the possibility that one throbbing member might keep you out of the App store. But the collection of phones coming out that will also accept apps and user-generated content should make that easier for folks who want to try it.

Would that interest you as a reader? Or have you seen a unique app that would work for an author?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    RhodeSoft is the company that produced Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s iPhone storybook app – Lula’s Brew – for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I hadn’t really thought of the app as a promotional tool, but you’re right, it is. However, it really is a lot of work to create an iPhone app. It would be a lot easier to make a Youtube video. (Our promo video of Lula is up on Youtube now.) What do you marketers out there think?

  2. 2
    Moriah Jovan says:

    This got my thinking: how can romance authors use iPhone apps as reading options and promotional tools?

    It’s a nice thought. I had it, too, and turned my book into an iPhone app.

    The process was very expensive, took 7 months (after being rejected several times before it was accepted into the iTunes store), and has gotten buried under the puppies’n’kittens ebook apps in the badly organized iTunes store, with no way to really push it and almost no ability to find it using search.

    My brother, who is one of the best programmers in his field, also has a game app and found his process just as futile and draining as I have.

    For individual authors with no publisher backing for a project like this, I don’t recommend it.

  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    The arduous process I’ve read about makes me wonder if the phones coming out touted to by ‘iPhone killers’ won’t be so powerful because they’re better or easier to use, but because they have a more flexible and friendly platform for app development and sales.

  4. 4
    Moriah Jovan says:

    I’m not sure there is any such of a thing as an “iPhone Killer,” but I do believe an app is probably a bad way to consume an ebook for everyone involved—writer, developer, reader.

  5. 5

    My brother, who is one of the best programmers in his field, also has a game app and found his process just as futile and draining as I have.

    I have worked on the digital marketing side for a long time. Unfortunately iTunes hasn’t figured out a clean good way to categorize apps. ie. under Music you would find instruments and then when artists were coming out with apps they would stick them in there too. This alienated a lot of the users.

    Apps can cost anywhere from $7K upwards depending on the company. It is another way to market to your audience. If you are charging 1.99 for the entire book you are devalueing your work though. Question is- are you charging for the App to read it? You have to have an abundance of content and you just want the user to buy the app. Say you are the NY Times, who have a 25 million audience online. They give their app away for free. This is a huge mistake. Now they are and every other newspaper is trying to implement a .03 cent charge per article you read. Instead they could have charged an annual fee of $4.99 for their app because once they gave the content away for free, there was no reigning it back in—

    This is the iTunes model. They are interested in selling their devices which hold the content. The money they make from selling songs for .99 is gravy in comparison. It does great things for their image, aligns them with A list artists, etc, but now buying a song is like buying a piece of gum at the check out devalueing the content. And music consumption is the highest it’s ever been. In Europe they arrest people for pirating music. Remember when that was going on in the US?

    Sorry to ramble onward, but unless you are the publisher, the frustration of it all as mentioned by Moriah earlier really isn’t worth it yet for this. The pay off is so little and there are other free things you can be doing like using social networking- twitter, facebook that are free and you can update daily.

  6. 6
    SB Sarah says:

    This is the iTunes model. They are interested in selling their devices which hold the content. The money they make from selling songs for .99 is gravy in comparison. It does great things for their image, aligns them with A list artists, etc, but now buying a song is like buying a piece of gum at the check out devalueing the content.

    Am I alone in thinking that I value the songs I pay for, whether it’s .99 or 1.29 US? I paid a lot for my iPod, and I do value the songs I put on it. I don’t have to think a long time about the purchase because it is so inexpensive, and it’s relatively easy for me to justify it, but to proclaim that it has no value for me as a consumer is not correct at all.

    That said, I dislike the charge-per-article concept quite a lot – but free-haha-then-charge is a concept I’m very familiar with at this point (Hulu, I am looking at you). Give it for free until folks get hooked, then charge. If the content is valuable to the consumer, they’ll pay. It does, however, inspire a lot of negative feelings when you pull crap like that.

    Moreover, newspapers, in your example, offer content with a very, very limited shelf life in terms of accuracy and up-to-date information. Songs and books are static elements that don’t change after the release. While there’s much to be learned from the app/content model from iTunes and newspapers, the products are not exactly the same, and I certainly value my iTunes songs the same way I value my digital books.

  7. 7
    Angela James says:

    Thanks for blogging about this, Sarah. I was just last night buying books for Brianna, for her iTouch. I think she’ll love this one and I’ve already gone to buy it. I would love to know about more book apps for children like this!

  8. 8
    krsylu says:

    I cannot tell you how tickled I was to see this post! I called out to my hubby immediately to tell him I’d made it into a Smart Bitches blog entry and proceeded to read him the whole thing. Although, I must admit to nearly being incapacitated by “one throbbing member”…

    Christine (aka ChrissyLou/krsylu)

  9. 9
    Serena Robar says:

    I think finding the right price is key in this sort of scenario.  I know I value my music at $.99 a title.  I’m willing to try out artists I haven’t bought before for that price. People pay for it because its not expensive and because its only $.99- they are not inclined to pirate it.  That’s the point.  If you charge too much for your e-book, you get people who scoff and pirate and feel justified. If you price it too low, they don’t think it has value. But if you price it just right, they won’t pirate because the price seems fair and since its just X amount, they are willing to try a new author or buy more.  The question everyone is asking is “What’s that price? “

  10. 10
    Jan Oda says:

    I’m really late to the party here, but I’ll post anyway.

    1889ca Books hosts several free children’s books that can be read on smartphones. Unfortunately there isn’t yet an app available to read them off-line, but apparantly that is in the making.

    To read the stories, simply go to the reader page and click the right side of each page.

    MCM, the author, recently launched a new one titled Xander and the Wind, and I found it such a touching tale I felt compelled to share it here.

    Hope you all enjoy!

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