Let’s continue shall we!
Stage Five: Getting the Idea
Once I was happy with the text it was time to work with my editor, Penny to make sure it was grammatically correct, the language was age appropriate, punctuation was correct and it fitted all the requirements for a picture book.
Penny and I worked on ‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ via email. I need to say here that the story is told through dialogue, with only a few attributions (he said/she said) to guide young children in their early encounters with dialogue.
This story relies heavily on the illustrations, so my first few discussions with Penny, who had never seen the manuscript and didn’t have the benefit of pictures to assist in following the flow and development of the story, were quite funny.
For example … ‘Who did he say it to?’ ‘But how did he find out?’ ‘You’ll probably need some attributions.’ ‘What are their names?’ ‘Will young children follow the story line?’ And so on and so on, until she said, ‘I’m going to have to draw some pictures. I need to see how the secret gets passed along.’
Seriously though, Penny came up with some great suggestions and edited and proofread the manuscript until it was perfect (well we sincerely hope so).
Stage Six: Illustrating
With the manuscript complete, it was time to hand over to the illustrator. This is such an exciting step in the process of bringing a book to life.Part of the story, in a good picture book, is told in the illustrations. So the text and illustrations must complement each other perfectly.
Trevor Salter illustrated ‘The Pile Up’ and did a wonderful job capturing the characters and emotions of the story. I thought his style would be perfect for ‘Can You Keep a Secret?’
I provided Trevor with an outline of what I wanted in the illustrations. This included giving the characters some personality tags, eg one has a teddy, the tiny one has a dummy pinned on a shirt, the ‘cool’ one has his cap on back to front, another has lots of bling.
There’s also a parallel story unfolding in the background so it was important to discuss these aspects with Trevor too.
Then Trevor started sketching the roughs. These were pencil sketches of each page. Throughout the process I had the chance to offer feedback and react.
Then from the roughs, the clean black and white drawings were created. Finally, from the black and white sketches the colouring process began.
I can only compare the transformation of the black and white sketches to full page colour as akin to the difference between black and white versus colour TV. If there is a WOW moment in the whole process, this is it.
Stage Seven: Marketing/Promotion/Planning Ahead
As with all my recent books, I worked closely with Anthony Puttee, Director of Book Cover Café throughout the entire process. Anthony is an absolute marvel when it comes to the marketing and promotional side of things.
So while the illustrations were being done, it was time for us to consider the marketing and promoting ‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ It’s no good having a beautiful new book to share with the world if nobody knows about it.
Technology has made advertising and promoting a lot easier. Social media is a great way to let people know that a new book is on the way. Blog tours, newspapers, radio, fliers, invitations to launches, letters, word of mouth and in newsletters are some of the other ways we’re planning to get our message ‘out there’.
However, all of this had to be planned in a measured way so we didn’t get the cart before the horse. At this point in time we re-evaluated our time lines and decided on an approximate launch date. I had been hoping for a pre- Christmas launch but soon realized that we weren’t going to make it. The launch of ‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ is planned for early 2014. Venue is still to be confirmed but I’m planning for it to be a dress-up Monster Party. Can you imagine all the little monsters running around?
An ISBN number is then allocated to the book. That’s the distinctive number on the barcode. No two books have the same ISBN number.
Stage Eight: Cover Design
The cover is of mega importance! It’s a glimpse of what the story is about. Design, colour and layout must all combine to entice the prospective reader to want to open the book. In other words it must be inviting and interesting to children and adults.
It’s not only the front cover that needs to be eye-catching; the back cover must be too.
What goes on the front cover? Title, author’s and illustrator’s names and in my case, the publisher name Butternut Books.
What goes on the back cover? The blurb, ISBN number, publisher name (again) and my website RobinAdolphs.com.
Just a word on the blurb. This is a short description of the story written for promotional purposes.
Anthony Puttee of Book Cover Café has designed all the covers for my recent books and he’s a whiz at it. Using the illustrations he crafts the cover to reflect the story and to make it as distinctive as possible.
Phew! In the next blog I’ll take you through the final stages of preparation leading up to publication.
To be continued in part three. Stay tuned!