Thursday, 3 March 2011

Big Red Barn

It's a long story, but briefly back in 2006 I had a book with an agent at Curtis Brown, a kids picture book which they felt they could place - alas, after a year the book was returned and the agent said she was going to concentrate on teenage fiction as picture books had become so difficult. Well, after 7 Elly the Reindeer apps me and my developer felt confident enough to bring Big Red Barn out as an app with all the animal noises and full narration, and its out today, so there is an alternative to the usual publishing roots. Elly is doing well and I'm about to back up the digital app version with a printed copy on Lulu, here's hoping BRB gets picked up ! Available from itunes here...

Friday, 24 September 2010

Busy Summer !

It's Autumn already and I see that I've failed to post at all recently - this is because I've been, thankfully, extremely busy - the unpredictability of self employment means it can be feast or famine. Take last August for example, my first for as long as I can remember without any work, luckily I was building my new studio, so that was kind of fine - but a year later it's the opposite - my busiest August ever. Who knows why these things happen - so I've been juggling cbeebies work with 'My first Encyclopedia' and a giant world map (with quite a lot of detail on). In addition to planning a new campaign for Dinky the Dinosaur. So I've been struggling even to get Book 6 of the Elly apps out, but it's finally done and should be out in October...

So hence no postings, but here's a cbeebies spread from 3 jobs ago, it's summery scene and I was pleased with this one ! BFN

Monday, 12 July 2010

It's sometimes worth a surf !

With Elly book 4 up and running, and Elly book 5 about to go live I thought I'd surf "Elly the Reindeer" on google in case there had been some postings out there. Aside from the reviews we've already had, I stumbled on a new article about Elly in the June issue of an ezine/blog/marketing magazine called Luckie. Somehow they'd picked up on Elly and written this positive piece - which made my day !

Monday, 17 May 2010

Work in Progress....Elly Book 4

Had this lovley review come in today from :

"Meet Elly the Reindeer. A cute little book character with 3 apps already out that are just adorable. Elly and friends like ‘Aapo’, ‘Fin’ and ‘Snowy Owl’ go on delightful adventures in ‘The Birthday Party’, ‘Elly Goes to School’ and ‘The Windy Day’.

The apps have clean and beautifully structured illustrations, that make excellent use of colors and proportions, really helping on our kids’ visual education. Stories are simple and fun, the ones that kids ask us to read over and over.

Although these are straight-forward books, with no voice, sound of interaction, the stories and illustrations are so nice they are worth having on board of our touch devices."

Michel from iphone4kids sent me a nice email too asking when the next Elly was due - well Michel I'm hoping mid June and here's the cover get ny head down....

Thursday, 6 May 2010

So How well Is Your App Doing ?

So, once you've got your apps out there, aside from marketing them to app review sites how do you know how well they are doing ? Well for one my developer sends me a weekly spread sheet of sales (approaching a total of 1000 downloads a week + ago), which is great and I can also see which country it gets really popular in ! Another method is to visit say apple itunes in the states by clicking on the flag on the bottom left of your itunes (if you're in the UK like me). I did this today to get the ipad book chart as Elly book 1 to 3 all went ipad in the last week - well the good news is I'm at no 30, 56 and 58 in the top paid ipad apps (books section) - thrilled by this I'm now awaiting the sales figures for the last week - keep you posted. How else can you monitor though ? Well I also found a site called which is currently free during open beta and provides rankings figures for your apps throughout the world on daily/monthly basis, on iphone or ipad... plus top grossing apps etc.

I found that I got to No 17 in books briefly in the states, that Elly was also featured on new and noteworthy in the states (which I never knew) and finally that I got to No 10 in Costa Rica, wow thank you Costa Ricans every where !

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The ipad meets the childrens book

Thought I'd post this excellent article link from publishers weekly. It's all about the ipad and how childrens publishers are either embracing it or waiting to see how it all pans out, but it all leaves you with the feeling that there's a potential revolution about to happen in publishing. Whilst some of us will always want hard copies of our favourite books, newspapers and magazines (and music too), there is a generation coming through who are happy to own their music content digitally, without a hard copy, as I am sure they will be happy to access their favourite magazines, graphic novels and paperbacks too in this way. And why not ? On the subject of graphic novels here's a link about the Marvel comics ipad app - enjoy !

Friday, 9 April 2010

Elly Book 3

Two good things happened since I last updated, 'theiphonemom' reviewed Elly Book 1, and Elly Book 2 (goes to school) and Book 3 (the windy day) are now up on itunes. Hopefully the review (I did note from google analytics that traffic was arriving via iphonemoms site to my site) will increase sales, together with the force of numbers, well three titles ! In fact an editor at a childrens publisher once said to me about one of my ideas ' bring me a series of three than I'll look at it' - so there you go. Starting another app project whilst thinking about book 4, which may well be 'goes camping'.....

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Elly the Reindeer APP - book 2

As I type, and await sales figures for ELLY BOOK 1, I am finding that to get the thing reviewed on one of the myriad of app review sites is a challenge indeed. I do get replies, mostly saying that we may get round to reviewing your app, but if you part with some readies then we'll review it more quickly (but they stress that the handing over of money does NOT guarantee a necessarily favorable review). But after much perseverance and emailing, iphonemom emailed me saying she found Elly a delight and will review the app in early April. What's interesting here is that she has an angle, that the iphone is not just a boy's toy, or adult toy for that matter. In fact in my researches I found that the Americans have embraced the childrens based app far more readily than over here, with an ever growing list of educational apps, childrens books etc etc. The french too, especially AVE! Comics have thrown themselves into the graphic novel app big time, with well over 100 titles - I find it surprising that some of the big names in childrens publishing here in the UK are not up there yet - Dr Seuss has been launched too on itunes with a fanfare and advertising banners - so are UK childrens publishers rabbits caught in headlights , or, are they about to launch big time ? Perhaps someone in the know out there can tell me....Oh, the picture is Elly Book 2 (goes to school), which is nearly ready to go - Book 3 is under way and I'm looking at getting french versions out soon.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Elly the Reindeer APP

As I type, apple itunes has launched my first APP/digital childrens book - Elly the Reindeer. (ELLY BOOK 1) But how did this all come about ? Well, talk to just about anyone with a kids book idea about how easy it is to get publishers to view, let alone take a punt on a book these days (or for that matter ask a literary agent) and most of the time you'll hear tales of 'they never got back", 'they're not accepting any more submissions' - or in the case of two literary agents I wrote to, "the markets way too difficult right now". Fed up with emailing, posting and begging people to take a look, I took things into my own hands and found an APP developer in Mubai, Dipali Vaidya of Her enthusiasm and dedication helped propel this book onto the APP store in no time.

It's very exciting to be in total control, and of course it's a gamble, but not an very expensive one, and we're now on a mission to bring 4 or 5 Elly books to the store together with Big Red Barn, (featured earlier in this blog), the latter with animal sounds hopefully.

I started back in the 1970's drawing comics to entertain my little sister, even trying to construct an elaborate printer once, I had a masthead and I tried to produce one a feels like it's all gone full circle now that I'm back in control again, a digital publisher, I shall certainly enjoy the process, I may even make some money - I'll keep you posted ! Now to get that marketing underway....

Friday, 12 February 2010

Hansel & Gretel

Not content with my effort on the flash animation below - I thought I really ought to have a go at stop frame, as this is the method students at Hastings College were using on the animation module. So I downloaded a demo version of i stop motion, which was a hoot, I have no cam corder but fortunately it recognised one of my still cameras so I was able to shoot the above. I then took it into imovie to add the effects, type and the sound. The distressed/noise effect works better at high res but not so well here at this smaller size (taking away detail) - I wanted to add a flavour of those slightly odd eastern european animations that haunted my youth ! A tad short but the exercise may well inspire me to do a longer one at a later date...

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Space Encounters

In January this year I was invited to take an animation module with first year students on the FDA course at Hastings Art College. The brief was about story-boarding a narrative and then creating a stop frame animation - refreshingly all the students created the artwork by hand and amongst the enthusiastic ideas and productions were a couple of space themed animations. Inspired by the students work I decided I should have a go and collated some images from previous commssions and used them in my own space animation. Without the stop motion equipment at home I elected for a flash movie - a fairly low res version can be seen above ! Much room for improvement me thinks but it was fun doing it. I'm now looking forward to seeing the students finished animations this week.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Christmas Cards

I'm delighted to have my work up on for the second year running - royalties have been modest but very welcome - but now they've expanded into the US with both offices and a dedicated US site, so who knows could go better - in the meantime, this years paperchase card (pictured) is in the shops and as you can see I introduced a slight hint of topicality into the design - hope it goes well, they've already bought another design for next christmas...but it's a tad early to be posting that one up...

Friday, 13 November 2009

Where I (now) work

A few weeks ago Creative Review had a 'show us your work space' type article running, and I quite wanted to post my new studio up there - trouble was at that stage it wasn't finished and I was, despite building it on and off for 2 months, having serious problems finishing it, so much so Tim the builder had to come to my rescue as we battled over 2 days putting it all together in lashing rain (It weighed a ton too which didnt help, I'm a light weight illustrator after all !).

After a lot of hard work the result - a fantastic work space I'm thrilled with and better than my last studio on a farm which was a tad cold and damp and got broken into (losing all my hardware, note to all digital illustrators, back up and keep the back up elsewhere). Trouble is this is only a few paces from my backdoor so no more cycling to work - so out with the jogging gear ! That's all for now as I'm busy with Christmas commissions (before it all goes horribly quiet over christmas !)

Friday, 17 July 2009

The Ashes 2009

Cricket, paint drying material for some , passion for others - this illo I did today, as 2 quick Aussie wickets fell, should tell you where I stand on the issue ! Comon England !