Friday, October 05, 2012

Lula’s Brew: From App to Print

By Elizabeth O. Dulemba, @dulemba

Part of the How They Do It Series   

JH: Please welcome the ever-wonderful Elizabeth O. Dulemba to the blog today. As an author-illustrator and tech-savvy gal, Elizabeth is always trying new things in publishing, and she's here to share with us the story of one such endeavor. It's a great example of how many options are out there for authors, and how we can make technology work for us.

Elizabeth is an award-winning children’s book author/illustrator of over fifteen books including her most recent title, THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS IN GEORGIA. She loves to give back to the community that supports her. As the Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ( Southern Breeze region (Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi), she established gallery shows, an annual Illustrators' Day, and was awarded the 2009 SCBWI National Volunteer Scholarship. As a Board Member of the Georgia Center for the Book, she helped create the inaugural "25 Books All Young Georgians Should Read" list. She speaks regularly at schools, conferences, and events, and teaches "Creating Picture Books" at various venues in Georgia and North Carolina. She taught Beginning and Advanced Illustration as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia. And she created one of the very first children's book apps way back in 2009, LULA'S BREW. Her "Coloring Page Tuesdays" images garner over 1.5 million visitors to her website each year and she has over 3,000 subscribers to her weekly newsletter. Learn more at LULA'S BREW is out in paperback now, and is perfect for little monsters looking for a great Halloween read.

Hey, a Contest! One lucky commenter will receive a free copy of Lulu's Brew, chosen by the random generator gods. (Contest winner announced Friday, noon EST)

Take it away Elizabeth...

In our rapidly changing world of publishing, I have a picture book story I’ve used for years as my big experiment. It’s called LULA’S BREW.

She began her journey in 2007 when I submitted an illustration from the dummy to the SmartWriters competition--and won! The judge was a big New York Art Director, which was encouraging to my still budding career. But despite that, the book didn’t sell.

Then in 2009 iPhone apps appeared. My radar dinged like a fire alarm. I had a feeling they were going to be big and I needed to get on board. Of all my picture book dummies, Lula was short, funny, and the sketches were complete. One problem--Lula is a Halloween story and it was only a few months away.

So, I pulled Lula out of the drawer, searched out a start-up app development company (they were all start-ups back then) and together (quickly) we turned LULA’S BREW into one of the first children’s book apps available--just in time for Halloween.

Back then, the playing field was small, so Lula got a ton of exposure. She was listed in the featured children’s book apps section of iTunes for months, as well as on the blog “Moms With Apps.” She did very well.

When the iPad came along, I adapted the files and we sent out an app for that device too. Even then, children’s book apps were fairly new, so Lula was still a radical idea. As a result, I sold articles to trade magazines, did some very high-tech school visits, and was invited to speak at several conferences. Everybody’s radar was starting to ding on the topic.

But I kept getting emails from fans, “Where can I buy the book?” One mother even sent me a photo of her daughter dressed as Lula for Halloween! People loved the story.

So, my agent sent Lula out for another round to the big publishing houses. We figured with Lula’s high download numbers (over 10,000), there would be takers. But this was right in the middle of publishers trying to figure out the rights and royalty percentages between apps and printed books. Everybody was running scared, the economy was crashing, and the fact that Lula existed as an app seemed to hurt her chances rather than help. In other words, she still didn’t sell.

I thought about self-publishing. But shelling out big bucks on the front end for quality print production wasn’t an option. Besides, I’m an author/illustrator--where would I find the time to also be my own publisher and distributor too?

Then came an article in Shelf Awareness (July 26, 2012) about a small ebook publisher in California, Xist Publishing, who was doing something nobody else was. They were turning ebooks into print books. Unheard of! From Digital Book World: “The company decided to make the transition when finding that its books that had both a print and e-book edition were selling more copies and at higher prices. Parents were also requesting print editions of their favorite e-books.”

Again my radar went off. I immediately emailed the owner and sent her LULA’S BREW. The rest is history. The physical book will be available in early October with pre-order sales for dedicated/signed copies open NOW through my local independent children’s bookstore, Little Shop of Stories (call 404-373-6300)--again, just in time for Halloween. What a ride!

About Lula's Brew

Lula's Aunties want her to be a witch like them. But Lula would rather study cookbooks than spell books (and hates to fly on a broom). Lula wants to be a famous chef. In desperation, the Aunties insist she try to make one last potion. Lula secretly adds her cooking flair and creates a brew that bewitches the entire town, including her Aunties!

This fun rhyming tale transcends the typical Halloween story to appeal to cooks and "foodies" throughout the year.


  1. I would love to win a free copy!

  2. Thanks for having me on, Janice! And LULA'S BREW is also available in hardcover, ebook, and app forms! :) e

  3. This is the sort of thing writers really need to be aware of, and makes me envy writer-illustrators.

  4. Looks like quite a fun story! Congratulations, Elizabeth!

  5. Hi Elizabeth:
    Your artwork is fabulous.
    You idea to make your illustration available to iTunes was not something I had thought of doing with my illustrations.
    Thank for you for that.
    Congratulations on the book too! :)
    P.S. I've just subscribed to your beautiful blog.

  6. Amazing artwork.
    Amazing story.
    Amazing journey.

  7. Looks like a great book! My daughter is still too little for it but perhaps in a few years! :)

  8. What a lovely post, very informative and it looks an amazing work.

  9. I would love to read Lula's Brew. In fact, I'm offering 13 lucky days of Halloween book reviews starting 10/13. Elizabeth - if you could provide me with an e-book copy (or pdf) I'd be happy to feature it. My blog is the Adventures in Writing & Publishing ( and my email is

  10. This looks like a great read and I love the art~ Congrats!

  11. Congrats, e, on your success with Lula's Brew! What an interesting post on your process of publication with it.

  12. Congratulations on your success! Your book sounds great! Would love to be the winner!

  13. This looks like a cute book my nieces would just love thanks for a chance to win a copy

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com