How a book is born: Bringing the book to life with illustrations

November 11, 2009 at 11:45 am | Posted in Education, Educators, Kids and reading, Mystery books, Parents, Publishing your story, Writing | Leave a comment
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Our publisher Terrie Goldstein continues to discuss how she brought the Undercover Kids book series to life.

I am still using my first rough edit to complete the initial layout with 11 chapters. Now I am ready to decide what illustrations will support the story. For this phase, my magazine publishing experience comes in handy. I grid the pages using ½ and full-page illustrations, as well as two full-page layouts and two half-page layouts. I decide not to use graphics for the chapter headings or to use spot illustrations which are placed anywhere on the page. (Although in the final layout I insert two spot drawings because it supported the story.)

I decide how many illustrations I need and the sizes. And then I create a 5 page Request for Proposal, commonly called an RFP. But how much am I willing to pay? No idea! So I call some of my artist friends to discover the going rate and balance it with what I think I can afford.

My author is local, so I would like a local artist as well. I sent the RFP to all the artists I know plus all the local art organizations. I get back 10 responses and contact five.

I ask them to create their version of Katie and Jake. I wanted to make sure I had someone who understood Katie and Jake. Once that happened, everything else would be a piece of cake. Boy…was I wrong.

I picked an illustrator and asked for he first full-page drawing. We went back and forth maybe five times before I realized that this just was not going to work. I paid for the illustration, even though I wasn’t going to use it.

Now I am in trouble. I have no illustrator and my printing deadline is fast approaching.

Phillip Ritzenberg, my book layout guru, comes to the rescue. Childrensillustrators.com shows great worldwide talent.

Since I really botched my first attempt at hiring an illustrator, I call in the big guns…my husband, who is a fine artist. We go through the site together and we both realize from my first hire, that not all illustrators can draw people AND animals. For us that is important, because Cooper, Katie and Jake’s dog, plays an important role.

While researching the illustrators on the web, I return to the library and the bookstore to find illustrators that I enjoy. For example, Dave McKean’s illustrations for Neil Gaiman’s book The Graveyard Book is one of my favorites. His black and white drawings set the stage for Gaiman’s wistful tale.

Research done and I am ready to pick a new illustrator. Wish me luck.

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