Thursday, January 24, 2013

Storybird is ‘reverse-engineering’ the picture book

Storybird is ‘reverse-engineering’ the picture book, article.

...A little under three years later, Storybird ... has over two million members (and has inspired a dozen marriage proposals). The site works with artists from around the world, who upload their portfolios onto Storybird’s platform. Users choose their art, sequence the images any way they like and add text to turn them into a story. They can then share the story across social networks and embed it on blogs.

As an aspiring writer and artist myself, not the least of illustrated books, I find this very inspiring. Just for starters, the idea of starting with the art instead of the text seems to make the story-making process really kickstart for me, instead of having to be forced.

I also have much affinity for childrens' picture books. I love art which is simple and fanciful, and children generally don't have the adult idea that art has to be be serious, complex, and 'meaningful', not to mention realistic. I believe that the deepest aesthetics in pictures have nothing to do with those ideas, and may as easily rest in simple and even silly pictures. Maybe many children have yet to appreciate the deeper levels, but there's nothing wrong with combining levels, in fact much of the best art does, often so successfully that most never notice it.

Oh, and it also seems to me that humor is often just inherent in childrens' books and art, whereas in adult books and art, it seems more forced, like it is either 'comedy' or it is not 'comedy'. I think this is wrong, I think humor is inherent in a healthy view on life, there's no need to separate it out sharply. The famous Danish philosopher Piet Hein (Kumbel) wrote that humor taken only for laughs and serious things taken only seriously are equally poorly understood.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rolling laptop

I'm not sure how big a leap forward this would be, but it's at least a cool idea to look at.
(Main disadvantage being no touch typing since it'd be just a screen keyboard after all.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Digital Publishing with Adam Engst

Digital Publishing with Adam Engst, podcast.
(Download link is near the bottom of the page.  If you don't want to wait for the longish download, you can also find this on iTunes.)

If you are interested in ebook publishing at all, I think you'll like this. Adam is always entertaining, and is one of the few people who are actively a writer, and a publisher, and an editor. He is also the co-founder of Take Control ebooks, which so far as I know, is one-of-a-kind. Run by Adam and his wife Tonya, they do it all, with a small bunch of writers. And they put out excellent and accessible ebooks on technical subjects. They are also friendly to deal with, and put costumer service up front.

Tonya and Adam Engst
And Take Control are one of the few publishers to have the insight and guts to fully embrace not using Digital Rights Management (DRM) to block users from copying their books, and they are proven right in their belief that not only does this prevent all the technical problems that DRM makes for the customers, but the audience responds positively and respectfully when they are treated as ethical beings rather than being seen as probably-criminals up front.

By the way, another concept which Adam talks about in this interview and is fully behind, is promoting a full money-back guarantee, and supporting it strongly with action. This is counter-intuitive to most of us, we feel we'll be robbed blind if we do that. But I'll tell you, I have had hundreds of thousand of costumers over the years, and my refund percentage is less than 0.3%! And it is very, very few of them where I get the feeling that they are taking advantage of me. A vanishingly small number of people.
But the upside, the support to the trust it takes to buy something from a company you don't know, is huge. It's not easy measuring it, but I'm pretty sure it is something on the order of at least thirty extra sales being made for each one which has to be refunded. I not only give the guarantee, I put it high on the page in big letters, and repeat it at the bottom. (I learned this from the Make Your Site Sell ebook, which helped my business no end (this book is free now too), it boosted my sales by over 50%, permanently.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Comic strips and Kindle format

I made a post on my main blog about Doonesbury, which includes some notes on the Kindle formatting of those.