Co-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
Combining reading with new technology makes it interesting and fun for all the young digital natives out
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.
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
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
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
3. 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.
Click Here to Link to Our Face Book
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
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
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.
Hazel 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/