So having found Ben Blacknall as the illustrator I wanted to work with, the production process started. I spent a lot of time researching how books are printed and different styles of formatting and presentation. As an avid collector of picture books, this was an enjoyable task. There are so many styles out there. Some have text and pictures together on the same page. Some have pictures bleeding to the edge of the page while others have an image in the middle of the page. Some have realistic artwork while others are more simplistic.
Next I had to consider the size of my book. I found the standard number of pages for a print run of a picture book is 32. For what I wanted, I best number of pages was 24. This meant that any print run would be comparatively cheaper due to the folders in a page when putting the book together. I wanted the book to be big enough to share as a picture book with a class (to share the images) but small enough for children to handle themselves.
The style I was looking for was one similar to the famous Mr Man series of books; text on one page with a linked image on the other. Then taking into consideration the fact I needed to have a title page within the book, I decided on the number of pages that needed to have graphics.
Once I had decided the style and look of the book, I needed to make sure the story fitted. I broke the text down into twelve pages. Eleven of them would have a linked image and I would have a separate title page. At this stage, I shared the story with a few trusted friends to get their input, adding in minor changes to the text.
Having decided how the story was going to be broken down, I then made a mock-up of the book. For this I folded some paper into the rough size of the book that I wanted. I then placed the text in position before sketching out some ideas for the images that I wanted. Ben and I then had another meeting to talk through my ideas for the images.
Once the draft images were created by Ben, we met again to talk through bits that I liked and things I wanted amending. At every stage, I felt completely in control of the look of the book. With the images hand drawn by Ben, he explained they needed to be digitised and vectored. He passed his images onto a digital artist who took them and created digital images that were vectored. Simply put, ordinary jpeg images are created by tiny dots which make them difficult to expand without losing quality. Vectored images are created in a different method that allows them to be scaled up without distortion.
I now had the images created and the text in an almost finished state. The first stage of editing the book (which altogether took around 5 months) completed, I needed to now consider how the book would be published and by whom.
The second stage of editing included art-working the images and copy-editing and proof-reading the text. Getting it print-ready
In my next blog, I will look at the decision to self-publish or find a publishing house willing to take on my books. A complicated process