Hazel Edwards and Jane ConneryCo-Designing E-books for Kids

by Hazel Edwards and Jane Connory

Hazel Leads Off...

Last week, Jane and I co-presented at Holmesglen TAFE's Industry Overview for the Diploma of Professional Writing students. Jane had prepared a humorous but factual Powerpoint with us as "Indiana Jones"-style e-venturers on a quest to create e-books.

The same week, Jane was featured in the local Leader newspaper, stressing that e-books were guilt-removers for parents who wanted their children to read rather than play games.

The first sales have been made on my e-online store, to USA, Tasmania and New Zealand… and I'm learning to use the electronic financial systems of Paypal and Paymate and how to keep track of e-book advances. So far, the best seller has been the e-book  of Writing a Non Boring Family History. It is followed by Zoo Poo Clues from the Project Spy Kids literacy mystery series.

Illustrator-Designer Jane's Viewpoint:

I have two young kids who are as much at home on the iPad as they are at home. They are always grabbing for my mobile devices and I am happier when they sit and read the eBooks I have created rather than watch the movies I have downloaded.

Combining reading with new technology makes it interesting and fun for all the young digital natives out there!

Jane Connory Merchandise

Back to Hazel...

It was the school holidays, and my 10 year old grandson and his mate had been lined up to cook 'hippo footprint pancakes' on camera at Channel 31's 'Kids in the Kitchen' while I read my picture book to camera.

Serendipitously, I met graphic designer Jane Connory and her children playing in the park. Innovative Jane lectures in e-skills amongst other graphic subjects, and wanted to illustrate children's books. She followed up with her portfolio.

I'm a formatting tragic, but have a backlist of intellectual property rights. My author website (www.hazeledwards.com) was undergoing a major overhaul as I learnt how to upload my own material. I was aware I needed help in re-formatting selected past titles so they would be accessible on all e-readers, plus they would need new covers and updating.

ebook Literacy series

The choice of junior literacy mysteries in two proven print series for the test was deliberate. Literacy is an area I am passionate about.  Hero Art, the sleuth in Project Spy Kids is an ace problem-solver but is challenged by reading. The Frequent Flyer Twins are international Asian-Australian ten year old sleuths.

Initially, I wasn't aiming to become an e-publisher. I just wanted to rescue some 'orphaned' popular  stories, where take-overs, mergers or  distribution had meant lost opportunities to get them to appropriate readers.

As an educator I had always supplied teacher resources with my books, and wanted to consolidate these on my own web-site. Often, readers of my picture books had no idea that I wrote adult non-fiction or mysteries. Now I had to make a decision about which free resources to offer.

How we went about designing and releasing the e-book series.

1. We linked the titles by creating a series name and using the same cover but with a different colour. Thus 'Project Spy Kids' was born. We were aware that the cover, title and one line descriptor were the only clues, so the covers had to be enticing for the age group.

2. Jane created the e-formatted books and new covers, and took on the job of merchandising the illustrations on Red Balloon or elsewhere on t-shirts, mugs and as logos. http://www.janeconnory.com/p/gift-shop.html

Design Your Own Mystery3. Jane also formatted my rough How to Design Your Own Mystery resources. This has become the MOST valuable download for teachers and librarians giving a follow-up activity involving writing and problem-solving skills..

4. We created curriculum dot points to reassure teachers of our reading relevance.

5. The shopping cart took considerable planning to put into place and to make it simple and secure for a potential customer to buy.

6. Jane experimented with a FaceBook page for the titles and with other social media. While aware some schools do not permit use of Facebook, we're still experimenting with ways of encouraging reading.


Face book page Hazel and JaneClick Here to Link to Our Face Book Page

Project Spy Kids is a one-series title, with Art as the hero.
" 978-0-9871078-6-2 - Winning a Giraffe Called Geoffrey
" 978-0-9871078-7-9 - Mindspaces
" 978-0-9871078-8-6 - Birds on the Brain
" 978-0-9871078-9-3 - Zoo Poo Clues


Project Spy Kids

7. We considered the choice of e-text titles to be vital. In our opinion, the junior literacy mysteries are viable for the next year. After that, students will expect more hypertext links and games style whizz bang options.

8. My Writing a Non Boring Family History title is a viable e-book because there are linked workshops & talks and a niche market of international genealogists. Picture books are more complex, and on hold especially since I'm not the illustrator. Currently my website has links to the e-books for sale by my publishers and also to their print books.

9. I'm featuring a monthly print book from my site. Longterm I'd prefer to offer only e-books, and to link with future web chats or mentoring. Within the next year I plan to release an original title only in e-book format: 'Authorpreneurship'. This will be linked to workshops.

10. 'Read the t-shirt', for Project Spy Kids, may be a future literacy project.

That park meeting with Jane has been a year-long apprenticeship to put up our trial e-books.  Now, some literacy skills will be shared via the website. And, we hope, new readers (of the human variety) will be created.

Jane's Viewpoint:

Being able to learn new technology as it appears has become part of my job as a graphic designer, and collaborating with Hazel on this project was no different.

e-book characters designed by JaneHazel is a strong ideas woman and envisaged these two series of books as eBooks without either of us really fully comprehending what this would entail. It was a great opportunity for me to illustrate the covers in Adobe Illustrator and format the documents into books in InDesign. I then had to teach myself how to produce these files as ePub documents and navigate the process of marketing the books. A steep learning curve... but the idea that we are forging our own path is exciting.

I now also have the opportunity to teach this new concept of publishing to my graphic design students at Holmesglen Institute. Maybe they'll be teaching their employers a thing or two in the years to come.

(c) Hazel Edwards and Jane Connery 2011.

E-books and Teaching Resources by Hazel Edwards, illustrated by Jane Connery: www.hazeledwards.com

Illustrations & merchandise designed by Jane Connory    http://www.janeconnory.com/

newspaper article about e-books




The Busy Writer's One-Hour Plot

The Busy Writer's One-Hour Character

Book of Checklists

The Busy Writer's Self-Editing Toolbox

The Busy Writer's KickStart Program

Write a Book Fast