Julie is a parenting journalist who founded Story Bayou to create interactive book apps for kids 8-12. She released her first book app, Brush of Truth, in Feb. 2012.
Q. Tell us about yourself.
I am a mom of two kids, 9 and 11, and I’ve been a journalist for
almost 20 years. I specialize in parenting issues and contribute to regional
parenting magazines around the U.S. and Canada. As a writer, I decided to
create a series of book apps to get kids into reading using all the technology
they love. I started my company, Story Bayou, in August 2011, and we released
our first book app, Brush of Truth, in February 2012. Brush of Truth is my
first work of fiction.
Q. Why did you decide to create a book app?
I can see that digital learning is clearly the path today’s
children will follow. Technology is being incorporated more into classrooms,
and as high-tech gadgets become cheaper, they’re becoming more of a household
staple. I liked the idea of book apps, because kids interact with the story. It
keeps them more engaged, so they’re reading more.
Q. What’s unique about your book app?
Brush of Truth is a choose-your-own-path adventure, where kids get
to have a say in what happens next. It’s written in second person, “your”
voice, so the reader is cast as the main character. Brush of Truth is about two
tweens who find an enchanted paintbrush while playing on a beach. They begin to
discover its powers as they go on different adventures. Brush of Truth has 65 decision
points and 20 possible endings, and is equivalent in length to a 125-page book.
Q. How did you get your app developed?
I partnered with Linxter, Inc. to create the app. Linxter’s CEO,
Jason Milgram, and I live in the same small town in Florida. Our kids go to
school together. Linxter handles all the tech issues: coding, creating the
website, updates, etc. I handle all the writing: the text of the book app,
press releases, website copy, etc. I also have worked as a publicist and
marketing director in the past, so I handled promotion and marketing.
Q. When and where did you launch?
We launched in February 2012 on iTunes, Android and Windows 7. We
entered the Kindle Fire market in March 2012.
Q. What has been your most effective marketing strategy?
We’ve only been out two months, so I’m still trying to figure that
out. We did notice a bump in sales with my initial launch announcement on
Facebook, and after a Fox affiliate did a segment on the app. I would like to
try some price reductions and code giveaways. I also would like to participate
in Moms With Apps and other group promotions.
Q. What’s been your least effective marketing strategies?
We have gotten good local press coverage, but it didn’t really
translate into sales. I’m thinking the coverage is more valuable in terms of
building awareness of the brand.
Q. Did you use “How to Market a Book App?” If so, how was it
I wish I had heard of the book about six months ago. It would have
saved me a hundred hours of research on my own. The book is packed with useful
tips for book app makers.
Q. Estimated budget?
My developer and I have a revenue share program, and we each
absorbed our own costs. I put in about $3,000 out of pocket, and work about
25-30 hours a week on Story Bayou.
Q. What’s next for Story Bayou?
I’m working on my next book app, Brush of Secrets, which is a
sequel to Brush of Truth. The kids travel to New Orleans to visit an aunt, and
have some crazy adventures in the French Quarter with the brush. I’m originally
from New Orleans, so I’m having a lot of fun writing it. I’m also working on
revised graphics for Brush of Truth’s cover and app icon.
Q. How are sales going?
They’re trickling, but I find they’re on a slow, upward movement
as I continue to market and find review sites. I have not yet done any free or
reduced-price offerings yet, though, which seems to be key.
Q. Any advice for other book app makers?
Research the industry, and reach out to other book app makers.
Everyone (including Karen Robertson) has been gracious and generous in sharing
tips and resources. We’re our own community. We should support each other.
Please connect with me!
Q. Can you give us links to your website, etc.?
with links to marketplaces: www.storybayou.com