Writing books for children is a wonderful, fulfilling, and rewarding journey! Good for you for taking your first steps. But before you start, you should know that being an author it’s exactly that - a journey. It may be a bit difficult one with a few snags along the way, and that’s why we’re here to help and guide you along the way, one step at a time.
The great Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, said that “the journey of 1.000 miles begins with one step”. Being an exciting and promising new children’s book author, your obvious first step is the idea. But what to do with that idea? Stay with us as we share our humble experiences.
Writing it down
Not just writing the idea down in a few scribbles, but writing the book itself. You need to make sure that the story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, with all of the facts checked (are those alligators, or crocodiles?), all of the elements are properly connected. You guessed it, research is really important.
The next part of the first step is to conclude the budget that you’ll need to get this done. There are a few social media groups for writers and illustrators that can help you see and calculate if the budget you have is enough for the complete development of the book. What’s also crucial is that the story you write down is being professionally checked by a word specialist, a.k.a editor, as editing the book is the next step.
Editing your story
This is a very important step. You need to invest a significant part of your attention in finding the person who will proofread, edit, add or take out some phrases that burden the text. Most importantly, you need to trust that person with your fledgling book. This person has read and seen a lot of pages, and they intend to help you have the story in its best light.
Choosing a visual style
Great! Now you have the book written down and edited, so you’re done, right?! Of course not. As an author, you must have an idea about what your book should visually look like. And if you don’t it’s not a big deal because investing a lot of time in researching the visual styles available on the market is an important task. Following a few of your favorite teams of an author and illustrator can give you a proper jump start. The internet and the local bookstore are vast places that can help you with this process. There’s also the choice between traditional and modern illustration.
Sounding the trumpet
After completing all of the previous steps, you’re good to go! Announce yourself to the artistic world! Tell everyone that you need an illustration studio or an illustrator for your book. And after you’ve found your creative soul mate, you sign a contract in which you’ll clearly define the main parameters: budget, method of payment, deadline, and copyrights. The last one is important because if you decide to have complete ownership of the studio’s/illustrator’s work, it will impact the price and they’re bound to set it higher. That means the rights of the author to produce everything commercially involving the artist’s illustration for example shirts, cups, badges, toys, even animations or promos, something that the author himself or another artist could do for the author.
Dreaming in colors
Phew. With all that settled, we’re off to the really interesting part! Transferring your idea onto the canvas/digital canvas (or both. Why not both?!). Now is the time to define how many pages you need for your book and the book’s format. Depending on the complexity of the illustrations, the studio/illustrator defines the needed work in a few phases: concept art, thumbnail (or storyboarding the story like in the movies), model drawing, inking, color. We’ll cover all of these in the following blog posts because there are styles and complexities which require all of these steps, while others require just concept art, thumbnail, and color. The last one is the most rewarding step, as this one is where all the magic happens and your story is visually turning into a book.
Formatting and print preparation
You’re almost there! When the illustrations are finished, revised, and locked, the formatting and print preparation process begins. This is done by an artist who knows the software that gets the book ready for printing or publishing it as an ebook. Most often, the illustrators themselves do this. Formatting is filing the illustrations into a specific software, getting the text onto the illustrations with different fonts, sizes, and colors. Print prep is exporting the complete work into a single document that is sent for printing and/or publishing as an ebook.
That being said, you should decide if you’d like your book to be printed or digital. Some authors use both formats, as some are more prone to read a book when it’s printed, and some just won’t leave their devices off of their hands. So, the question here is: why not both?
While the artist is working on this process, you have yet another task to fulfill, and that is purchasing an ISBN code (the one long sequence with 13 numbers on it), a barcode that after you’ve purchased the ISBN, will be generated as a tiny rectangle and if you decide to have your book in the Local Library in your area, you will also need to get a LOC (Library-of-Congress) number. Easy, right?
Picking your printing service
We recommend that you take this step along with the formatting and preparation step. That is choosing a printing house that will get your final product published, like IngramSpark, MCLR (there are many printing companies, so choose wisely) and such, or KDP (Amazon’s publishing and printing company) which aside from printing has a delivery system, so it will deliver your book to your readers.
Blasting it out!
This is it! You’ve reached the finish line! The book is finished and it looks just as you imagined it! Now, all you have to do is promote your book on social media, local TV & radio stations, promotions in local libraries and bookstores… The more, the better.
And so, the journey starts
It’s not that complicated, right? So these are all the steps you need to take to get your book illustrated and published. Some of them are not as clear as we’d like them to be but don’t worry! We intend to cover all of the steps, step by step, in separate blog posts which we’ll publish every Friday. So as we said, we’re here for you and if you have a question or a topic you want to know more about, feel free to contact us via email or our social media profiles and we’ll cover it for you.