Workshop

Can I do a workshop for you?

As a published author and illustrator, graphic designer, and experienced public speaker, I am available to do a presentation on Self-Publishing 101 for Children’s Books.

I would be more than happy to educate your group on all that is entailed in self-publishing a children’s book. Workshop contents include critical points such as:
* Idea/concept
* Story
* Importance of a dummy
* Design
* Illustration
* Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

Interested? For complete details please contact me and inquire. I’d love to hear from you!

Please note that workshops need to be in reasonable travel distance from my home. Thank you!

Self-Publishing VIII – New Challenges

A recent self-publishing project has been my second with author, MJ Zonfrillo. The Boy Who Found His Talent is a picture book story of a boy who’s bored, but doesn’t know what he wants to do, and his journey to finding what that is. It’s always great working with someone I’ve worked with before; it makes the whole process easier and more fun.

Let’s look at some of the successes and challenges in creating this book. MJ does a great job of doing a dummy, but … it was put together for me after the illustrations were done and that created some missed opportunities.

The illustrator, who is very talented, never did a picture book before. Sandy’s forte is animals, so a complete book with humans presented some challenges, but MJ had taken care of all that before the art was presented to me. One of the things I would have liked to see done differently would have been a much more extensive use of 2-page spreads. In this book, there are only two.

The result was that there are too many pages with an illustration on one side and the opposite side has only a few lines of text, (see above.) This misses the opportunity to use full color throughout, but also gives the child reader far less to look at.

Another issue was not apparent until I received the art and that was that the artwork itself was not painted out far enough to provide for the full bleed for the page size. In some cases, the illustrations could be slightly enlarged, but in others, it meant my having to paint in areas to provide the needed bleed. Also, the scans, which had been made by a print shop, had a somewhat greenish cast to them, and much color-correcting had to be done.

The last challenge was that the illustrator had not been asked to do a separate image just for the cover, so MJ and I were left to figure out which interior images might be used for this purpose. As it turned out, this was pretty do-able and we were able to use one for the front cover, and a different one for the back cover.

All in all, it still went quite smoothly, and having a client who’s great to work with makes it all so much easier (and fun!) The Boy Who Found His Talent looks great with attractive front and back covers, and plenty of interest on the inside portraying a solid story, which also includes photos of the main character in his various theatrical endeavors.

What could have been done differently? As mentioned in earlier posts, there is a great advantage to working with the designer early on, and before giving the assignment to the illustrator. This could have provided many more 2-page spreads and a better use of the 4/color availability for picture books. This way the illustrator understands exactly what’s expected of him/her, especially if they’ve never done a picture book.

My second recommendation is to utilize an illustrator who has experience in picture books and understands all that is required to give me properly sized, finished art so I can just pop it in on the page. I spend more time than should be needed in correcting things, which adds to the final cost, and which would have been avoided if an illustrator experienced in picture books was hired.

So that’s it. Another great collaboration and another beautiful book finished!! Ready to start your self-published book? (Or other graphic design project?) Reach out; I’m happy to help!

Is This Your Year to Be Published?

It’s a New Year, and it’s time to think about where you’re headed. So many people have a dream of being published, of actually having a book in their hands that has their name on the cover as the author, and maybe the illustrator, as well. You may have that dream, too, but perhaps feel compelled to keep it a little quiet. After all, isn’t that a bit of a luxury to go and have yourself published? Maybe not.

Do you have something important, something relevant, or just plain fun, you’d like to share with children? Some part of your life experience that might make a difference to someone? Something you know or feel or dream about that could bring knowledge, a smile, or enlightenment to another. I believe we all have something to bring the world, and perhaps a book is the avenue for you to express it.

If you think you would like to be a self-published author, I’d be happy to help you achieve that dream. Above are just a few of the books I’ve had the privilege of bringing to life; each one has a post about it here on this site where you can read more. You can also find out more of what self-publishing is about on any of the tabs up top.

Is 2022 going to be your year to be published? Let me know!

Make A Bookmark Fun

Bookmarks are hardly my biggest projects … but they are often the most fun. Why? Because they’re little pieces of art that serve a great purpose … helping someone keep their place in their book and promoting you!

And when you are creating them for a really colorful and entertaining book, there’s no way the result can’t be engaging, too. Pictured here is the bookmark I just created for Laurie Wallmark‘s new picture book, Dino Pajama Party. Having access to all the images in the book allowed me to cut and silhouette a variety of dinosaurs and include Laurie’s favorites, too.

A bright and friendlybookmark helps make reading even more fun for little ones, too. How can I help you? Let me know!

A Functional Business Card (aka Bookmark)

People are still reading. A lot. The New York Times still has a best-seller list; sales on Amazon are doing great; children’s books have increased in sales; and NPR has TV programs about their favorite books each year. What does that mean to you? That promoting your endeavors with a bookmark is still a great idea. Think of it as a functional business card.

It goes without saying that authors, whether traditionally or self-published, can use this valuable promotional tool and keep themselves in the public’s eye. Laurie Wallmark, author of numerous picture books whose focus is women in STEM, has had the great fortune to have her stories illustrated by some excellent artists. Her most recently published book is Numbers in Motion about the mathematician Sophie Kowalevski, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg. I am the lucky person who designs Laurie’s bookmarks, and this one was a real treat because I am just enamored of the art.

I chose vignettes from two of Yevgenia’s  illustrations plus Laurie’s web presence for one side, and all of her published books to date, including the book cover slightly larger, on the reverse. The result is a visually pleasing collection of beautiful illustrations, an invitation to learn about this book, and the others as well. You can do the same at Laurie’s website.

But what if you’re not an author? Is there something you do that you want to promote?

An example here is my own shop on Etsy which focuses on a growing collection of cards and other items for the French Bulldog. Any books? Not a one. But does every sold item I send out have a promotional bookmark tucked in? You bet!

And I’m hoping that buyers from my Etsy Frenchie art shop may use and enjoy that bookmark and come back and visit, even if just to check and see what’s new in cute Frenchie stuff.

One of the beauty of bookmarks? They are not terribly expensive and can be produced by any number of reputable online printers.

Another wonderful use for a bookmark is for your organization. In this regard, I’m thinking particularly of non-profits, but if the design is appealing and provides the recipient with the information and inspiration to check out a company’s website and/or social media, then it’s worth it!

Pictured here is a bookmark I designed for the Associated Humane Societies and Popcorn Park Refuge here In NJ. It was part of a larger fundraising appeal I created and I do believe that this lovely bookmark had something to do with the results being much better than the year prior. Who can resist a (shelter) dog putting his paw in your hand? Or one of the refuge tigers napping on a sunny rock?

Here’s the bottom line. Although we live in a very digital world, people are still reading. There are also some programs available for the “lay person” to create their own promotional materials. I have seen some excellent examples from some talented people, and some that are truly cringeworthy. The thing is … you want to be remembered positively. If beautifully done graphic design is not your area of expertise, don’t put out something half-baked.

Get great results with a pro … and here I am! Just contact me – I’m happy to help!

 

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.