This new Manchester-based children's publisher collaborates creatively with its audience - and has big plans to become a multi-platform, multimedia brand.
WatAdventure is an interactive children’s publisher from Manchester. Their aim is to tell a series of adventure stories for children across print, personalised books, cartoons and online games and unite them under one virtual platform: the WatAdventure World.
Mark Gray is the managing director with a specialism in 'future-printing'. Richard David Lawman is the creative director and writes WatAdventure’s books. Finally, Katie Williams looks after illustration and art direction across the WatAdventure brand.
What's the gap in the market?
The children's book market is currently seeing an explosion in startups focused on personalisation, and self-published titles with an emphasis on diversity. However, the WatAventure team believe their offering allows kids much deeper involvement in the design and production of their books. "We wanted to create a children’s brand that interacted with their audience and involved them in the creative process," Gray says. "Children are very rarely given opportunities by publishers to see their ideas come to life, and we knew how this could be done."
Success so far?
After creating a channel on the children-focused content sharing app PopJam last September, the company saw its following soar to 42k. Lawman believes this was accelerated by the creative collaborations WatAdventure offers its audience. "For our first picture book - WatAdventure in Australia - we decided to throw open the doors of our creative department and delegate a little responsibility to the kids," he explains. "We asked them to design, draw, vote and in return, we promised to bring their ideas to life. This involved asking kids to decorate boomerangs, vote on content that would end up in the book, and design a flag for the Watabus. In return, we illustrated ten boomerangs into the book, created an enormous collage of flags (approx. 1000) in the book cover’s lining pages and chose one overall winner - Lola. Lola’s prize was to not only see her flag illustrated onto the Watabus, but she herself became the star of the story."
Running a major international collaboration with thousands of kids whilst creating a book in the space of a few weeks. "We found we had to juggle the process of creating the book with managing the various competitions and ensuring our audience were constantly engaged," Lawman reports.
The team aims to grow the WatAdventure brand across several mediums - books, chapter books, online games, cartoons - then link them all together in the WatAdventure World, an online interactive platform that allows children to be part of the story.
Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?
"Build an audience. The industry is incredibly difficult to break into, and there are so many chicken-and-egg scenarios that prevent any publishing start-ups from finding quick growth. Being able to prove an audience first helps win a few battles."