Q. Tell us about yourself.
I have been told that I look just like Liev Schreiber. I am about 6’2″ and enjoy long walks on the beach.
I am also a former copywriter and my wife Donna is a former Art Director. Together, we have been been making interactive app storybooks for about 3 years. We just finished our seventh book.
Q. What inspired you to write your story?
‘Who is the Ugliest of All?’ is a Halloween themed story. Halloween is a holiday that is near and dear to our hearts. Donna and I got engaged in Salem, Massachusetts. I got her a black and orange diamond engagement ring. We just went back on Halloween for our 13th anniversary.
We are always inspired by current social issues and we thought that it would be fun to do a story about a girl who, rather then be the fairest of all, wants to be the ugliest of all. It deals with the serious topic of body image in a ridiculous way.
Q. Why did you decide to publish it as a book app? Is it available in any other format (eBook, print or video)?
Donna and I have always been trying to collaborate together. We saw the possibilities of being able to work together without oversight and restrictions. We thought that interactive books brought the traditional book into the new digital age and we were excited to try and bring our stories to life. Our books are only available as apps.
Q. What’s unique about your book app?
I always try to write a story that I wish I had on my bookshelf when I was younger. Right now we have dozens of children’s books on our shelves. These books inspired me as a child (and still inspire me as an adult) and I try and channel that into what I do. Our stories also have their own unique look, thanks to Donna’s beautiful artwork which is a mix of everything from hand-drawn and painted to digital and collage.
Q. How did you get your app developed? Estimated budget?
Since the beginning of our working together, we have done everything ourselves, including development. As far as costs, that is a misleading question. If you look solely at how much we spent directly on making this app, the answer could be nothing. If you consider things like art materials, computer hardware and software, developer licenses for the app stores, all of the time you need to put into this, therapy and stress medication… the answer is more like 3 million dollars.
Q. What has been your most effective/least effective marketing strategy?
100% for sure, the best way is to research and write people but I just want people to understand that it is is REALLY hard to get people to pay any attention to you. You will write A LOT of letters and you will get A LOT of rejections. Hopefully one person will eventually feel pity towards you and look at your work. Try and make your website and app store page look as professional as possible, with colorful screenshots and a engaging video (basically a commercial for your product) so that when someone does look, it entices them to want to see more.
We have never, ever paid anyone to review our work or to get some sort of “Special Certified Award” but have heard many horror stories of people who have. I would be very wary of anyone who asks for money. We have done some Facebook advertising which got us some page likes from strange Iranian men and Dutch women who don’t seem to even speak English so I don’t recommend that.
Q. Any advice for other book app makers?
Don’t do it thinking you will make lots of money. You won’t. If you are seriously considering doing this, do it because you REALLY love it and feel the need to share your art with the world. Don’t quit your day job unless you are excited about the opportunity to live the lifestyle of a starving artist, eating popcorn for dinner every night in your parents’ basement.
While people have no problem paying $15 for a hardcover book, there is a consumer mentality of wanting apps for free and with the competition/saturation in the app market, developers feel huge pressure to succumb and basically give away their work. Try not to do that. It devalues what you do and the app book market as a whole.
You are in the right place. A resource like the Book App Alliance is invaluable. It has helped and continues to help us a lot. Just look at all of the great information you just got from reading this article about me on here!
Q. Links to your book app and social media?
Who it the Ugliest of All? – iTunes: https://itunes.apple.
Who it the Ugliest of All? – Amazon: http://amzn.to/2er7p8h
Who it the Ugliest of All? – Google Play: http://bit.ly/2dkW8ZV