Finishing – Making a Picture Book

Gator McBumpypants and Herman in the shady placeContinuing with my theme of finishing what I begin, I’ve been spending most of my time finishing the picture book I started in January. At the moment, I sit in the 24 hour waiting period of review from Create Space (Amazon) before I can get to work on my ebook. While I wait, I thought I’d give you some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

1. PATIENCE– Be patient and multi-task. Unlike what the rate of celebrity picture book publications might make you think, making a picture book is hard and incredibly time consuming. You have to love your idea and see it through while you work on two, three or four other things. The pictures for my book, influenced the story, which then influenced the pictures I took. Over time my ability to photograph my story improved which made me take more illustrative pictures. If I had rushed the process, my characters wouldn’t have had time to come alive.

2. Make your book  for a child who wants it (can be you).  I think it would have taken much longer to finish, or maybe I wouldn’t have finished at all, without my niece wanting her finished copy. She gave me perceptive feedback on my pictures and shared the pictures with her younger cousin, telling the story in her own way, which was the best feedback ever (though I’m still a little confused where some of her story fit with the pictures).

3. Know your Tools – If patience and inspiration weren’t so important, I would have put this first. It is my own fault this keeps taking so long. Sometimes when I work this hard, it seems like the majority of Western Society instantly found ways to buy all of the newest technology, and left me out. It took every tool I had to make my picture book, including gifts from every loved one since 2006. But I did it, so I want to share the things that hung me up. I started being frustrated by the difference between what I saw on the screen (RGB) and what my printer printed (CMYK). I spent a lot of time trying to make my Microsoft laptop video card adjust to match the printed images, but that was awful. I have a Mac with Photoshop CS. I got everything I needed from Photoshop CS and learned what I needed from youtube videos. I have many specific pointers based on specific technical issues, but I will save them for when my book is successfully printed.

4. A Book Is Forever – I started this project with the idea that I wanted to see what the pictures of my stuffed animals exploring my world would look like. Now, I’ve made a children’s picture book and I realize I have to take responsibility for my creation. As I face the final stages of self publishing and prepare to release it into the world, I hear my nagging inner voice say Are You Ready? Are you doing your best?

Just last week my mom called saying she found a box of children’s books in my old room. I think, but don’t trust, I put them there on purpose long ago. She wanted to know if I’d mind if she give them to my niece and nephews. I loved the idea. I pictured paperbacks of the Ramona series and some Judy Blume. I remembered reading the entire series of the Rescuers mice on an airplane and Ralph the motorcycle mouse at camp. But then I also saw me reading Dickens, Jaws and A Clockwork Orange. I raided  Dad’s desk to find real books to read. I wasn’t allowed in Dad’s den, and I didn’t sleep so well. I convinced Mom to look through the box, just in case. She found Ramona books and Ralph on his Motorcycle. Talking about them made me want those books back. Maybe when the kids are done reading them, they’ll let me borrow a few. I hope my efforts bring similar joyful reading experiences as the books in that box brought me.

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