Self-Publishing V – Picture Books

One of the best parts of any design project is the opportunity to create something new, unique, and appealing for your client and their audience. But it can be an exciting challenge to stay within certain parameters, such as size limitations, when you are provided with  a variety of elements created without those parameters in mind.

Such was the case in designing the picture book “The Little Girl Who Lost Her Words” for author MJ Zonfrillo. This was MJ’s first foray into the world of self-publishing. While she had devoted a great deal of time to her manuscript and hired an excellent artist in Sue Griggs-Bailey, the combination of a beginner’s level of experience and a portrait artist  who had never worked in children’s books presented a few challenges.

Let me first say that I am so appreciative of those people I work with, like MJ, who are so willing to learn and want to do everything they can to make the project go smoothly. Thank you to you all.
MJ had a dummy assembled in a looseleaf binder and came ready to work. The illustrations were provided on a flash drive in a suitably-sized jpg. format. However, because the dummy was created after the illustrations were completed – the reverse of the usual order of things – I had to sometimes work a bit in reverse. Also, the illustrator, being an accomplished portrait artist, provided a number of similar-appearing images in portrait style that would need to be presented in different ways so as to provide the variety needed in a 32-page picture book.

Above right is a beautiful image Sue had drawn of the main character, Ava, looking wistfully up at some butterflies. But this needed to be a 2-page spread — what was the best way to go about this? I could have used the image on one side of the spread and used the opposing side for text, but there was another option to make it more interesting. See below, the final spread, using Photoshop, and incorporating Sue’s own background to extend the image.

MJ had chosen an 8.5 x 11″ format.  Some of the images supplied worked wonderfully as single page images, and there were others that worked well as spreads. Very few were provided with an awareness of where the gutter would be and how it would affect the look of the spread. Others needed a variety of cropping, others needed to be made to work in page-and-a-half size, and in some cases, Photoshopping to make them work in the chosen format. This is where my being an artist, not just a designer, comes in handy!

Pictured above is the original art for a two-page spread. It would have been perfect for a horizontal format, but our final size for a 2 page spread is 17″ wide by 11″ high – quite a difference. What I needed to do was first trim the drawing down to clean edges all around, then see what I could afford to lose from the left and right sides. Next, I had to piece the two together overlapping, then eliminate a swath down the middle to fit the above dimensions, and paint the two together in Photoshop to create a continuous image so the finished piece looked like it had always been that way. Voila!

One of the things MJ learned from this experience is the proper order of: finalized MS, dummy, then illustrations. With such beautiful artwork and MJ’s trust in my design ability to modify Sue’s art respectfully when needed, I was able to bring it all together to make a beautiful finished book that all of us are really proud of. With such a lovely first book, I look forward to working with MJ again on whatever her next project might be.

Bookmarks for Authors

 

 

 

I’d have to say Grace was right. And when that happens to be you as an author promoting yourself with a bookmark, she’s really on the money! Pictured here is a bookmark I created for friend and author, Laurie Wallmark. Grace Hopper, Queen of Computer Code is Laurie’s second published picture book, and she asked me to do a new bookmark for her, including Grace and her first book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine.

First, let me tell you about the advantage of having a bookmark as an author. Giveaways – you’ll undoubtedly be doing book signings, and you’ll want each customer to walk away with your fabulous book and something to remember you by – and how to find you via your website, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Why not invite them to learn more about you? Perhaps they’ll follow you, buy your first book, or … want you to come and do a book signing at their school or organization!  Never miss the opportunity to leave an extra – and portable – great visual impression with those that purchase your book.

And the beauty and importance of a well-designed bookmark is that it won’t just stay in the book it was purchased with; it will travel from book to book. Somewhere down the line, your book purchaser, in looking at this bookmark, may think of what a perfect gift that book would be for their niece or nephew. A bookmark can have a long shelf life all its own.

On Laurie’s bookmark, I incorporated a nice gear image as that is something she uses as a theme in her own promotions, and some special touches that pull everything together. Laurie was very happy with them, as was I. I can design for you, too, complementing your own projects, whatever they may be. Contact me if interested, or follow this blog for additional insights into how great graphic design can help you.