I’m so excited to be interviewing the author of one of my favorite book apps. I love The Prisoner of Carrot Castle because the interactivity in the app is relevant to the narrative and brings the reader into the story. Introducing, Chris Pederson!
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to write Carrot Castle.
I have a passion for healthy eating and teaching others how
to be healthy (www.healthyjourneycafe.com). Out of this passion, being a
children’s writer and wishing to contribute to the fight against childhood
obesity, I wrote The Prisoner of Carrot Castle.
Q: Why did you decide to create Carrot Castle as a book app?
I first shopped the manuscript to a few publishers, but soon
realized developing it as an app would bring the book to life, and offer a
deeper experience for kids.
Q: What’s unique about your book app?
In addition to a unique page turning style, kids engage in the exciting adventure
by helping the hero, Aiden, move ahead in the story. Interactions involve the
accelerometer to help Aiden down a tunnel and sliding veggies onto Aiden’s fork
so he can eat his way out of his dilemma. A popular dress-up game appears at
the story’s end enticing kids to slide battle gear onto a knight who, once
dressed, dances to the sound of cheers.
Q: How did you get it developed? How did the development process go?
I contacted Kate Jeong (fellow Society of Children’s Book
Writers and Illustrators) to illustrate the world of Carrot
Castle and enlisted my son, already a talented Mac OS developer, to do the iOS programming.
None of us had ever done an iPad app before, but we each
possessed an entrepreneurial spirit. Once I developed the storyboard, Kate
created the stunning illustrations. We lived in different locations, Kate in
Vancouver B.C. while Nur and I live two hours apart in Northern California. We
communicated via email and frequent Skype meetings.
I managed the project, creating task lists with a schedule
for completion. I learned to do the sound, searching on the Internet to find
sounds and editing or combining sounds with Audicity (open source free sound
editing software) if needed. When I couldn’t find what I liked, I created
sounds with my iPhone Voice Memos app.
Since we intend to do more apps, it was important to develop
a brand identity. Following the veggie idea, we became Purple Carrot Books
The process went well, however, longer than we had hoped.
Here’s what I learned about the process:
- Quality illustrations take time. Color
studies are needed for each character and the world they live in.
- Searching for sounds is extremely time
consuming. I spent hours and hours listening to sound effects and music. The
editing process was easy by comparison.
- When your programmer has a full-time
job, the programming takes a lot longer.
It didn’t help the schedule that each of us moved during the
course of the project, adding further delays. That’s life.
Q: When did it launch?
The Prisoner of Carrot Castle launched on the Apple App Store on February
Q: What have been your most effective marketing strategies?
Most effective was giving away Promo Codes through reviewers at the time the review
is posted and growing a presence on Twitter (@prplcarrotbooks). I’ve also been
working the traditional press route. I’m featured in the June edition of a
local magazine with great results.
Q: What’s been your least effective marketing strategies?
Using Facebook. It takes a lot of time, but doesn’t seem to provide an equivalent
Q: Did you use “Author’s Guide to Book Apps” and if so, what was most useful about
I read “The Top 5 Things You MUST Know About Creating Book Apps for Kids!” by
Karen Robertson. It gave me courage and encouragement to jump in.
Q: What other apps did you use to inspire you?
I built a relationship with Jeff Keeme of My Black Dog Books, creator of the Violet book app series. He was very
helpful and encouraging.
Q: Estimated budget?
The costs for developing the app were very inexpensive (Apple developer fee, and
sound purchases = approx. $200), especially if you have an agreement to get
paid from sales after costs. However, there are other necessary costs such as
website development and maintenance (approx. $1000). Other costs include
business licenses and fees (approx. $150), LLC setup (approx. $300) and any
marketing (paid reviews, printed material to pass out, etc. = $300).
Adds up to $1,950. Forming an LLC is not necessary unless you have a fictitious name
(i.e., branding) other than your personal name. Apple requires an LLC or
incorporation for liability purposes if you have a fictitious name.
Warning: If you live in California as I do, you pay $800 on April 15th whether you made
any money or not (Ouch!).
Q: How are your sales going?
Sales have been steady after the release rush with various spikes in sales from reviews and giveaways. We released a free app on
May 25th, a game titled Dress a Knight of Carrot Castle, to cross sell the book
app. Too early to tell if it has contributed to more sales.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s very difficult to be discovered on the App Store among a sea of apps. We all
hope Apple improves their search and category features to make finding apps
easier. Meanwhile, the more apps you release under your brand, the more
discoverability you’ll have for those searching for your book apps. Purple Carrot Books is hard at work
with several new book apps in the works.
The Prisoner of Carrot Castle: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-prisoner-of-carrot-castle/id499981407?mt=8