Thursday, 26 February 2015

Q&A with Eric Huang - Author Masterclass: Picture Books for the Digital Age


Eric Huang Development Director at Made in Me

 What, I hear you say? Two amazing SCBWI BI events on 21st March 2015? 


Whether you’re looking for a workshop with a digital focus (with Eric Huang) or a workshop concentrating on book/press work (with Marianne Vilcoq and Bridget Marzo), the choice is yours… 


This week Eric Huang has dropped by to answer a few questions about himself and the forthcoming Masterclass - Picture Books for the Digital Age. Next week, we’ll be catching up with Marianne Vilcoq and Bridget Marzo to talk about their Masterclass - International Publishing Opportunities.


The digital book is only the very tip of the iceberg... 


Eric Huang is Development Director at Made in Me, an award-winning digital publisher in London specialising in children's entertainment. Starting out at Disney Publishing in LA - where he worked for six years - Eric moved to Melbourne as Managing Editor at Penguin Australia. In 2007 Eric took up a role at Penguin UK, where he worked for six years as one of the children’s publishers and looked after Penguin's IP and co-production businesses. Eric joined Made in Me in 2013 from Mind Candy. He looks after IP development and partnerships around creating and launching digital brands.www.madeinme.com

Alison Smith caught up with Eric to ask him a few questions in advance of his upcoming London Masterclass Picture Books for the Digital Age on 21 March in London. 



Q: What inspired Made in Me to create Me Books? 

A: James Huggins and Mike Outlaw (my business partners and the founders of our company, Made in Me) created Me Books when I was still at Penguin. We launched Me Books under the Ladybird imprint as an app that enhanced the experience of adults reading picture books with kids. Kids want to read the same books over and over again. On the tenth reading, we all start making up our own stories, giving voices to characters in the illustrations who aren’t mentioned in the text, and so on. Me Books enhances this experience without adding animation or game mechanics which distract from, rather than add to, this age-old reading experience.


Kids want to read the same books over and over again. On the tenth reading, we all start making up our own stories, giving voices to characters in the illustrations who aren’t mentioned in the text.


Q: What were the biggest challenges? 

Me Books App
A: Discoverability is definitely the biggest challenge. Back in 2011 it was relatively easier to get your app noticed because there weren’t as many reading apps back then. The quality of Me Books resulted in a lot of press coverage, and publishers who were reluctant to sell their books via our Me Books shop started coming to us! Now there are countless apps and websites that are all about ebooks for kids. The challenge is to help people find our free app – and then be willing to part with their money and buy something.



Q: How can unpublished authors and illustrators use Me Books? 

A: When we launched Me Books, the majority of content came from existing books from publishers and entertainment companies like Disney. Now, we are actively looking for work from unpublished authors and illustrators of picture books, comics and illustrated chapter books. Me Books has become a publishing platform – and we help our authors/illustrators who publish digital Me Books with us to secure physical book deals and also place their books in front of TV production companies to expand the stories beyond the book!


Now, we are actively looking for work from unpublished authors and illustrators of picture books, comics and illustrated chapter books.


Q: Are there differences between the types of stories/art that work digitally versus physically? 

A: I feel that the stories that work best digitally – or at least on Me Books – are the ones with worlds and characters that can live beyond one book. A debut book that can also be an entertainment brand has a much better chance of being seen and loved by readers in the digital space – and a much better chance of becoming something bigger, like Charlie and Lola or Thomas the Tank Engine, which both started as physical books and are now stories told on TV, games, toys, etc. The digital book is only the very tip of the iceberg...


I feel that the stories that work best digitally...are the ones with worlds and characters that can live beyond one book.


Q: What will you be covering in the workshop? 

A: I’ll be talking about my experience in publishing for the past … wow, TWENTY years! How it’s changed and how we at Made in Me are now publishing for touchscreen devices, as well as looking at other storytelling media like TV. I think there’s a lot we can learn about storytelling from other media sectors and apply it to book publishing, not just on the creative side, but for sales and marketing as well. I’ll also be talking a bit about how to make it easier for people to find your beautifully written/illustrated ebook.


I think there’s a lot we can learn about storytelling from other media sectors


Q: Anything people need to do to prepare in advance?

A: Please bring along an idea for a picture book and be prepared to work in small groups exploring how it might work digitally and in the wider context of storytelling related to brand building and interactivity.



Masterclass details: Picture Books for the Digital Age
When: Saturday 21 March 2015 – 12 noon – 4pm
Where: The Theodore Bullfrog Pub, First floor meeting room, 26-30 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HL
Cost: £30 per class for SCBWI members, £37 for non-members, £108 special SCBWI member discount when you book for 4 classes. (All prices include a pre-ordered light lunch and a beverage.)
Booking: Places are limited and can be booked online at https://britishisles.scbwi.org/events/london-author-masterclass-picture-books-for-the-digital-age-with-eric-huang/

Look out for next week's post with Art Director Marianne Vilcoq and Illustrator-Author Bridget Marzo covering the exciting Illustration Masterclass on International Publishing Opportunities also on 21st March 2015 https://britishisles.scbwi.org/events/illustration-series-international-publishing-opportunities/
Hungry for more? Read Bridget's W&P post on International Magazine Publishing and go global!
http://www.wordsandpics.org/2014/09/childrens-magazines-and-working.html



Alison Smith works as a freelance PR and communications professional for part of her week. For the rest of it she is to be found in the guise of her alter ego, Ally Sherrick, clamped to her computer getting on with the edits for her canine caper set in Victorian London and working on picture book ideas. She recently broke her publishing duck with the acceptance of a short story by The Caterpillar Magazine and hopes this will help her brave the slings and arrows of future rejections.


5 comments:

  1. Thanks Alison for a great post and thanks Eric for such insight. What a great event this will be! Seems like the possibilities for creativity within the digital work are opening up more and more.

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  2. I could listen to Eric talking about this stuff for hours - If only I wrote picture books! Eric has such terrific insight on the exciting new world of digital storytelling.

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  3. Very interesting stuff! I work completely digitally after initial sketches are scanned so I reckon I will be getting in touch very soon...!

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  4. It’s not often that I search for something and actually find useful information… glad I found you… keep writing!

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  5. I read this article and its give me good information and also tell us how to teach your kids with picture book thanks for share it proofers .

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