Less than 18 months after the launch of Coliloquy, the Palo Alto-based digital publisher that provides a choose-your-own-adventure option in its YA series’ titles and now also publishes adult standalone books, bestselling author Ridley Pearson and the superstar author band the Rock Bottom Remainders have signed on with the company to create unique interactive apps and e-books.
Pearson’s app, Kingdom Keepers Insider, allowed the author to reach out to fans to help him write the seventh and final book in his popular YA fantasy series. “To celebrate the end of KK (as we know it!), I’m picking special scenes from past books, as well as a few from KK VII, and inviting readers to write their own versions of what should, or could have happened,” Pearson writes in the Insider app, which attracted over 40,000 users since April and has generated a substantial number of entries from his fans. Winners in the four categories have been announced; their names will appear in a special section at the back of KK VII. “The first third of Kingdom Keepers VII, or Act 1, will be written in this format,” says Lisa Rutherford, Coliloquy’s founder and publisher. “In October, Ridley will finish the book on his own.” Disney will release it in April 2014. “I really credit Disney for being so willing to engage with the project and be creative,” Rutherford says.
“We publish all our books as active apps,” says Rutherford. “Based on the traffic on Ridley’s app, we know now that the next generation of readers is willing to engage on small screens. 71% of them are reading on mobile phones.” Pearson approached Coliloquy with his idea for the Kingdom Keepers app after hearing of Rutherford from a mutual friend
“In the business world, Coliloquy is that unusual combination of brilliant creative thinkers, terrific communicators, and humility,” Pearson says. “They are as good at listening and evolving as they are reinventing and putting into action. From the start I sensed a partner instead of a publisher, a group that was willing, even eager, to put in the long hours to make something like crowd-sourcing the writing of a novel into a workable reality and then engineer both the apps and the infrastructure to make it happen.”
Pearson was also a founding member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, the band of bestselling authors that played together for twenty years and raised millions of dollars for literacy groups. Other members included Stephen King, Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Roy Blount Jr., Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Scott Turow, and others. But the heart of the Rock Bottom Remainders was the late Kathi Kamen Goldmark, who came up with the idea for it in 1992, recruited the authors to play music and sing, and performed onstage in every concert. Goldmark, who was married to Dave Barry’s brother Sam, died in 2012. To honor her memory the band wrote the enhanced e-book Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock and Roll Band (of Authors) Tells All ($16.99; non-interactive version $13.99), which Coliloquy will release on June 18.
The book, mentored by Pearson, took about a year to complete. “It’s a celebration of friendship,” Rutherford says, “a very personal and intimate look at these huge authors as they write about the band and about Kathi. It includes actual emails they sent to one another during their 20-year run, original essays, and hilarious Q&As and pop quizzes.”
Hard Listening includes video clips of the band’s performances, home movies taken backstage with the authors, photos, and four original short fiction pieces contributed by Greg Iles, Pearson, King, and Dave Barry in which the reader must guess which one was actually written by Stephen King. All author proceeds from the sales of Hard Listening will be donated to offset Goldmark’s medical bills. “Sam [Barry] would have been uncomfortable accepting charity from anyone in the Remainders,” says Rutherford. “It was more important to him to create this book project and ensure Kathi’s legacy.”
Publicity for Hard Listening will include a Google Hangout with several band members, a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) with Mitch Albom, and an event at the Apple Store in New York’s Soho neighborhood. The band will also release a Spotify playlist through popular blog Large Hearted Boy.
Coliloquy now has more than 15 titles available, equally divided between YA and adult books, and is working on its first picture book that will be published by the end of this year.