Sunday, March 13, 2011

Brainstorming ebook ideas for #kidlit authors & illustrators

In the months since focusing on the possibilities of creating ebooks, more and more ideas have been popping into my head, have been suggested by E is for Book members, or have been inspired while skimming scads of book blogs in a desperate attempt to keep up with it all. Not all of these examples are necessarily for ebooks that would cost money, some could be giveaways for promotional purposes. Some of the links below go to examples on my web site or blog.

To support print books
Most of these can be easily put into the PDF format.

  • Group activity and coloring pages into an ebook for convenient downloading.
  •  Make a Scavenger Hunt checklist to find certain things in a title.
  • Create activities for a group of titles (such as my math picture books.)
  • Take a portion of the line work from an illustration and enlarge it for coloring.
  • Make a template for a project that ties into a particular title such as a mask, a paper doll, a 3-D house, etc.
  • Generate Word Search puzzles (There are quite a few free Word Search makers on the Internet. One tip is to carefully check the spelling of each word first...sigh.)
  • A step-by-step guide to how to draw your characters.
  • A Reader’s Theater script (an adaptation of a story for students to perform.)  
  • Release free sample chapters to get readers interested in a novel or a series.
  • Write a short story with the same characters that isn’t in the print book.
There are many more ideas along this line, but that’s a start. I’m interested in opinions about which of these (or other options) are most popular with kids, teachers, and parents.

Reissuing out of print (OP) titles
Many authors and illustrators have books that are no longer in print but that could find a new audience in the age of digital books. Which format(s) to choose for which ereader is a complex issue—other articles on the E is for Book blog have discussed this to a degree and will in the future. Also, check our e-Publishing links. Several of the story apps by our members were originally print books, see them under the Our eBooks tab. Aside from basically duplicating the original print book, here are some additional ideas:
  • Try it in a different format—could a picture book become a chapter book?
  • Restore that section that the publisher cut due to length (I can hear a chorus of people saying that it was probably a good idea to edit out whatever it was. Just saying that sometimes good stuff gets cut. It is possible, theoretically.)
  • Add interactivity such as sound effects, pop-up images, things the reader can move around, and so on. Of course, this is not possible with all formats, at least for now.
New digital projects
If there will be a print edition in conjunction with a digital one, the two formats will have to be taken into consideration from the start. But let’s say for now that we don’t have to worry about a print version:

  • Because the number of pages is not restricted, consider including extra material that currently is not an option. This could be almost anything from “journal pages” supposedly belonging to a character, a song that goes with the book’s theme, historical details or amazing facts you came across in your research, and so on.
  • Write about a narrow topic that won’t work for traditional publishing but that may find an audience online.
  • Shorter than “normal” books on a very targeted topic are also a possibility.
  • Personalization could be an option some ebooks could offer.
  • Mashup the media with a story app that has gamelike action or has a hidden video that allows the reader to help the main character solve a mystery.
  • Have “live” activities at the end of a story such as movable puzzles. (Click here for a Flash example from my web site.)
  • How-to books with plenty of photos and/or videos to demonstrate an art or craft process.
This is only scratching the surface...I hope this post has inspired a new thought or two or three! Please feel free to add more ideas in the Comments.


  1. Loreen, excellent compilation. Thanks so much.

  2. So many ideas... so little time to play!
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. You're welcome, guys! Books, they are a-changing.

  4. Loreen- I like your ideas of how to expand into different areas to bring in more attention to our books or expanding into new areas to make some extra income. I'm finding it a bit overwhelming to actually bring these ideas to life. ....I guess focusing on a few areas is the key, as I feel when I try to do a bit of everything- nothing gets done. Where to begin??
    My biggest problem seems to be is getting enough people to actually be drawn to my website & blog. I'm not as good about this social media as others and spend more time creating new projects-and not nuturing the current work. You are a valuable resource to this blog...!

  5. Thanks, Maryann, but we're all bringing something to the table. You are doing an incredible job making your OP titles available again and in so many different formats, which is job #1.