E-Book (Indie) VS Physical Books; Writing and Illustrating E-Books

Indie books, E-Book and Physical Books, Which is better?

an e-book and a physical book Illustrated by Will TerrySince I’m a lover of both the physical and the e-book – I don’t have a favorite, but I think it’s always good to analyze them things for their advantages and disadvantages. So I have compiled a list of pros and cons below.

Pros & Cons for the consumer as well as the author/illustrator

I decided to list both pros and cons from the consumer point of view as well as the author and artist/illustrator point of view. As if I were to be working with a traditional publisher vs indie publishing an e-book. So if you like to purchase books, Illustrate or write children’s books, this list is for you. If I miss some points please help me by adding your insights as I know I’ll have a different list than some of you. So here we go…

Physical Books, Pros:

Having a tangible artifact; to hold and curl up with on a rainy day.
Larger format for illustrations; A nice illustration to look at, and more fun to paint.
Better legibility in strong light; Like out in the daylight.
Gift-ability; A tangible, 3-D present to give.
Developing a physical library; Looks good on a shelf.
Guaranteed advance against royalties; Cash is king.
Eligible for Caldecott and other medals; Like that’s going to happen to me.
Inclusion in school & public libraries; More sales and fame.
Can be signed; The fans love this, and it’s a pat on the back.
More prestigious; It’s a real book.
Edited by professionals; Fewer typos
Marketed by professionals; People that know what they are doing

Physical Books, Cons

Expensive to purchase
Expensive to print and to publish
Can get damaged and or lost
Hard to see in dim light
Heavy & unwieldy
Less Eco friendly
Limited to multiples of 4 page counts
Travel to purchase & wait for delivery
Can go out of print

E-Book, Pros:

Inexpensive to purchase
Inexpensive to publish
Disaster Proof; you download from your account
Reading in the dark
Light weight; Easy to carry thousands of titles; Moving day is a lot easier.
Eco friendly
Adjustable font size
Unlimited page counts
Publishing freedom & autonomy
Instant delivery
Quicker to market & royalties
Never goes out of print

E-Book, Cons;

No physical artifact
Comparatively small viewing area
Hard to view in strong light
Not as gift-able
Less pride of ownership
No guarantee of earnings
Not eligible for most book awards
Can’t be checked out at the library
Can’t be signed
Less prestigious
Self edited
Self programmed
Self marketed

Is the E-Book Better, or the Physical Book?

There you have it, a list of pros and cons but no definite right answer. I can only surmise, that both have their pros and both have their cons. E-Books are better for some occasions or personalities and real books are better for others. Like I said, I love them both. I do think it is cool that anyone can publish now with the invention of the e-book. See the process in a previous blog. You may also want to check out the blog where in my friend Kari Brimhall shares the how to create and publish your own e-book. See 4/22/16.



Self Publish Your Art Your Stories and Your Illustrations

Warning! Self Publishing Artists and writers are going digital, you might regret it if you don’t

A Running Rat

I’m no expert here – but I do self publish and I have to share what I’ve learned both as encouragement and as a warning. If you want to how to write your children’s books and or illustrate children’s books, now’s the time.

I hope to help you find the motivation to start self publishing your own stories and illustrations digitally. The warning is that if you don’t do it soon you might have regrets in a year or two or sooner.

Lowly Self publishers compete with big business

I’ve been doing a lot of reading of various blogs and web pages about self publishing digitally and most agree that we are seeing a change in publishing the likes of which we haven’t seen in our life times. Until now the gate keepers have been large traditional publishers. They held the keys because they could afford to put up the tens of thousands of dollars to print large runs of picture books. Also, they had established complicated distribution channels that an individual author, or illustrator/artist would be hard pressed to compete with. Most of this hasn’t changed. The day of the large publisher is definitely NOT over and I’m glad – I like the publishers I work with, and most of them have been very good to me.

E books cost so little to self publish

What has changed is how inexpensive it is to publish your work which means that one of the two cards that publishers held, has evaporated. Now the only real advantage a large publisher has is a distribution channel. I’m not underestimating how important this channel is either. Large traditional publishers have relationships with stores that you and I do not. They have publicists working for them to promote our books and editors to polish the final products. They have customers that they’ve established long before you or I ever worked with them, and way before we put on our author and illustrator/artist hats. They know the business better than we. They submit our books to all the major book awards and from what I’ve been told that list is well over 200. Imagine trying to research, compile, address, and pay for 200 give away books and shipping, just to put them in the hands of jurors who probably won’t pick your book anyway. And I’m sure there are a lot more things that they do that I’m overlooking.

The E-Book opportunity may not last for self publishers

The time is now, will, maybe a few years ago but I still see a huge opportunity that isn’t going to last forever. Like the Oklahoma pan handle rush of 1889 there was opportunity for a limited time and then it was OVER. For the first time in our lives a new platform is emerging that is giving the early birds a distinct advantage. I’m sure that you’ve all thought about e-books – I have been for the past year or more. However, I never realized how important it is to be first to market until I started reading and researching. It only takes an hour or so poking around on Amazon or Barnes and Noble to see self published books doing extremely well.

The new e-book digital format is growing

Awhile ago I published my first e-book – Monkey & Croc at Barns and Noble and it’s done pretty well on B&N. The only reason it did so well as it is – is because of the lack of competition. When I published it there were a little over 500 e-books for children ages 3-5 on B&N. Crazy right? Think of how many thousands of books there are in hard copy in that group. Look, I don’t even own an ereader but you can’t ignore this new format – it’s coming on strong. Amazon said that for any particular book that they sell in physical format – they sell 48 digital copies of the same book.

Intellectual property, art and words and pixels for sale.

Aside for being early to market you can afford to sell an ebook for only a few dollars because the only cost you have is your time. Right now the big publishers are selling their ebooks in most cases for about the same price as their hardbacks. This is another reason to get your book to market quickly. While they sell their books high – we can sell ours low and create an advantage for the buyer. Think about it…if you bought a new ereader or ipad and you wanted to load it with content wouldn’t you gamble on a few unproven $2 and $3 books since the alternatives are $12.99 books that you might already own?

I believe there’s still time to capitalize on the e-book movement

My belief is that if you can create a following due to timing – your book could gain the kind of momentum that could build a franchise. If this happens there’s also a good chance that a traditional publisher would want to buy your book and print hard copies. Another option is that you incorporate a print on demand publisher and offer hard copies on your own. Either way the future is bright for self published books. I think that there will always be a place for large publishers but now there is a much larger place for self publishers.

Join a critique group, writers or illustrators, find help

Some drawbacks: You won’t have the benefit of an editor and this places a great responsibility back on your shoulders. My suggestion is to acquire the help of a professional writer and/or join a critique group that can help you polish your story. Another obstacle is finding software that will easily let you turn your jpeg images into an e-book. This was a very frustrating process for me and without the help of my brother in law I don’t think I would have been able to release Monkey & Croc. There has been talk about Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Itunes holding back publishing software and only releasing it to large publishers. Monkey & Croc suffered a bit with a few minor hiccups because we couldn’t get that software. I think that this will soon change as open source programs become available. Where there is a need someone will fill it.

I published Monkey & Croc on Barnes and Noble’s Pubit.com site. They take 35% of every sale but they give you an account for free and you can check your sales in your back office any time you like. It’s neat to go in and check every day or so.

It’s amazing what parents will let their children do if it means education

Finally for those who don’t think that parents won’t turn their kids loose with an expensive e-reader to beat up, you’re right. However think of the advantages – Carrying an unlimited amount of picturebooks on a plane, train, or automobile will keep kids pacified much longer than the few books parents can carry in hard copy form. And how nice will it be for the parents who have long commutes with children in tow to and from day cares. How long do you think it will be before they develop the kid proof ereader? I suspect it’s around the corner.

At the beginning of my illustration career I was asked to complete an illustration about e-mail – I asked the art director, “What is email”. It’s happening now.

Illustrations & Artwork for My Own Book

writing and Illustrating my Own Book

“Get used to disappointment” ~Dread Pirate Roberts

These are some character and environment sketches for a book I wrote and tried to get published. I’ve already scored one rejection on. We learn by our failures right? But in the publishing world you need many many failures, rejections, refusals, dis-approvals, and disasters in order to be a success right? (just say yes) I’ve written many a children’s book my friend and so far the score is, Publishers 15 – Will Terry 0.
Enjoy it while it lasts publishers – for one day I shall laugh at you for buying one of my manuscripts…MWAA HAA HAAA!




:) folioacademy is awesome.  (<<< subliminal message)

How to Make an App: Step 10: Make Another App

Nice Reviews on Our Story App & a Sneak Peek at “Gary’s Worms”

We are so excited to talk about the reviews Gary’s Place is getting as well as talk about the sequel to Gary’s Place. Gary’s Got Worms.

Gary’s got worms?

Starting my next app, Gary’s got Worms. It’s not what you think, In this next App, Gary has worms, but not the itchy bum type, the night crawler type. Either way, worms can be a pain, in the end.

Gary’s Place gets a 4.5 and a 5 star rating!

We have the new updates now that we’ve fixed the ending of Gary’s place and we submitted it to Digital Story Time and The iMums. Two of the top review sites for children’s story apps. Digital Story Time gave us 4.5 stars and The iMums gave us 5 stars! YAY! I couldn’t believe it! I had to start looking at the competition on those sites and found that many of the other apps in the 4-5 star range are being produced by big publishers like Harper Collins and Disney. It felt really good to be able to start and finish this project with Rick Walton and my son Aaron and a little help from Tabitha Thompson’s wonderful voice acting – and to be able to compete!


Since we’re finally rolling I’ll share our sales stats from Google Play, Amazon, and iTunes, but not yet, stay tuned. I will in future posts. I don’t expect to sell thousands of these, and certainly not overnight. I don’t think digital publishing works that way for the

most part. I’ve got my eye on the long term goal of steadily building a brand. Some of my peers ask me why I seem to be so hellbent on making apps. Why work on a project like this without any guarantee of success? Why not spend 
more time in traditional publishing markets? Or watch more TV? Why risk it? Do you hate traditional publishing? ARE YOU CRAZY?

I love these questions – keep em coming! :)

No I don’t hate traditional publishing – I illustrated 3 books last year and loved each one of them. I look forward to illustrating more in the future. I’m having the time of my life working in a medium that is expanding my knowledge and skill sets. I’m enjoying the collaborations I’m making with famous children’s book author Rick Walton, and my son Aaron – who, by the way, is very creative and is actually a major contributor on interactive, animation, and content ideas. I count myself extremely lucky to be able to afford the time to work on these. But probably the biggest reason is that in order to succeed in anything artistic there needs to be risk. I’ve learned to embrace it. This doesn’t mean that I don’t hear nasty things from the voices. There always there but I’ve learned how to cage them quicker and keep them locked away longer.Many are afraid of digital publishing. Some are wishing it away. Some are ignoring it. I would just like to point out that it took nearly 50 years for the automobile to become mainstream. The early contraptions were noisy, expensive, unreliable, and inefficient. People  made fun of the early adopters. Many were hoping they would fail so everything would go back to normal. I can’t predict the future but I doubt we will move away from digitally delivered and enhanced storybooks for children. This means that I won’t have to worry about my creations going out of print.

Build a Quality Brand

My plan is to steadily and slowly build a quality brand. Each new app will advertise the previous story apps and each previous app will be updated to advertise the newest story app. I guess that might be step 11 or step 12 but who’s keeping track? They “say slow and steady wins the race” – unless it’s a sprint – we’ll see. I keep hearing about artists who make an app and never make another one because they didn’t sell enough to justify the effort. I also hear about those who make one app and it’s their “Driving Miss Daisy” and they are suddenly rich, and famous and they are millionaires, but that is fluke-ish and it’s probably those guys that make the rest of us want to give up when we don’t hit a home run with our first try. I think this is a mistake if they can afford to continue. Think about some of the most famous picture book brands out there – like the Olivia stories…or the Skippyjon Jones books. They weren’t created in a year or even two – it took a LONG time. It took RISK from their publishers. So Give a Hoot, Take a Risk, and another, and another, and slowly and steadily win the race, it’s not a sprint. 

Story Apps Need (good) Ratings TOO

If you’ve bought a copy of Gary’s Place I’d love to hear what you think! Also if you wouldn’t mind giving us a rating in the app store – that will help – good or bad – Preferably good. My mom used to say, you must be able to think of something good to say about anyone, or any app. 
If you haven’t bought a copy, feel free to buy it, we don’t mind.
thank you
If you want to go back and see all the steps, start with step one and link from there. How to make an app-step 1.


How To Write A Children’s Book

I’m very happy to announce TWO things this morning. The launch of Ann Cannon’s Folio Academy video – “How To Write A Children’s Book” and our Fall 30% off Sale at Folio Academy on the entire store! (use code: fall3 but you have to find the promo page and it is hard to find. http://folioacademy.com/promo.html  )

Ann is a very accomplished author of children’s books. She has published tons of books and written way more than that. She is busy doing what she loves. Like and artist.

So about 6 months ago we asked her if she would be interested in making a video tutorial. We wanted a lesson designed specifically for illustrators and beginning writers. Let me be Frank, my good friend here, Will Terry probably wanted that video for himself. With all the possibilities of indie publishing both traditionally and in electronic form becoming available – the demand for the kind of information packed in her tutorial is going up.

It took us a while because Ann is a busy woman who also writes a weekly column for the Salt Lake Tribune but we finally got time where we could all get together. I really hope this video helps the illustrator who wants to create their own story.


….AND – you can get it for 30% off for till Oct 16th if you use this secret code: fall3 at our secret and hard to find, promo page …after, like Oct 16 at midnight or some where around there depending on what time zone you live in, that the sale ends, and no, we don’t know if there will EVER be another sale at FolioAcademy. Feel free to call Will Terry and ask him, but he doesn’t know either. But between you and me and the lamp post, we probably will sooner or later. Want Will’s number?

Here is one of Ann’s latest books and you can check out the tutorial here.

How to Make an App – STEP 1

How to Make a Story App – Step 1

Step 1 – Start with a GREAT story!

I’m going to be blogging about the progress on my new story app “Gary’s Place” from now until it’s for sale in the app stores – and beyond – even updates on my sales figures. This is really scary because I’m promising to do something that I haven’t done yet. In fact there’s a voice yelling inside right now begging me to delete this and stop writing. But – here we go…

Step 1 – Start with a GREAT story!

I came up with an idea for a story about a gopher who isn’t content with his home. It had a good beginning, middle, and end but I couldn’t write a good manuscript because I don’t have enough writing experience.  So – I approached Rick Walton, a well known children’s book author and friend (over 90 published books – google screen shot above) and asked him to read my story and write it if he liked the idea. In a ridiculously short time he turned it into gold. Yes I will cut him in for a large percentage and yes it took him no time but I believe it will be worth every penny. He’s been writing for over 25 years and his experience shows.

The story is THE most important part of a story app. Illustrations, music, character voices, animation, games, coloring activities, things that giggle, wiggle and jiggle won’t make it a great app!

Often we don’t hold ourselves to the same quality standards we expect from the goods and services we consume. We want to see movies with a great story and cinematography asking friends and family for recommendations before dropping money at the box office. But do we provide the same when writing for a book, app, or e-book? If you don’t have the writing skills are you working hard to develop them? Have you considered partnering with a professional author?

I get emails, messages, and phone calls here at Folio Academy every week from authors looking for illustrators to partner with. Professional authors often have a huge back list of manuscripts that have never been published – usually much larger than their printed books. I guess a good question is will having a great story sell enough apps to offset the percentage or payment you’ll have to give up to an author? I think so. I believe that a smaller percentage of a GREAT project is worth much more than a larger percentage of a Mediocre project.

Did you know there are thousands of movies produced each year? How many can you name from 2013? My point is that if you aren’t producing the best who will care?

But Will, you’re a professional illustrator so it’s easy for you to work with professional authors.

Sure – it’s probably easier for me to strike up a conversation but from the sheer numbers of authors I’ve been approached by I know there’s a huge need out there and it’s only going to grow. If you’re passionate and committed I doubt you will have trouble talking an author into letting you take a crack at bringing one of their stories to life.

So check back say, Monday the 23rd, for Step 2 as I share my progress reports!


Getting Published: My “tail” by James Horvath

“Will Terry’s video series played a key role in helping me get my first book ready to submit to a publisher”

I wrote to Will Terry thanking him for his video series How to Illustrate Children’s Books. His video series played a key role in helping me get my first book ready to submit to a publisher. The course outlined everything I needed to know about creating and submitting my book, and his real-world experience and knowledge gave me the confidence to finally go for it.

Dig, Dogs, Dig available at amazon.com


“How did an unknown author/illustrator sign a 3-book contract in under a week?”

I’ve often been asked, “How did an unknown author/illustrator get a book dummy to a major publisher, have them actually look at it, and sign a 3-book contract in under a week?” Good question.

I realize my success is fairly rare, like finding a cache of pirate gold buried in your back yard, or getting quick and friendly service at the DMV, but, it’s not impossible to do what I did. And I am not someone who has a brother or a sister-in-law working in the publishing industry. What I am, is someone who did his “homework”.

So unless you actually have friends, relatives or somebody high up in the publishing world, you’ll need to do your homework too. And the videos and tutorials on FolioAcademy.com are a great place to start.

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