The Final Touch, Part 1
I began creating a children’s picture book during the winter of 2010. My son Daniel, father of daughters ages 3 and 5, wrote a story draft about how the girls interact with their wonderfully playful spirits and imagination. They made up a fantasy about the Sun—how it rides roller coasters, takes bubble baths and teaches fireflies to shine. We read it to the girls who laughed at all the funny ideas and enjoyed their own storytelling.
Back then, I was learning Photoshop CS3 and taking lots of pictures of the girls for photo books they could read and enjoy. As I grew proficient with the software, I became more and more inventive. I have no formal training as an artist, but Photoshop and digital scrapbooking allowed me to create what seemed like art. I was amazed by the infinite possibilities and results.
After Daniel wrote the story, I started illustrating it with Photoshop’s digital collage techniques at my fingertips. I created magical landscapes but kept the girls “real” in each image. I thought this was important for 2 reasons. First, they are multicultural children, and I didn’t find many books in the major retail stores with a focus on multiethnic or cultural diversity. Second, the illustrations were unique as style found in children’s books.
I continued to create the images to match the story. But the story changed as we revised and expanded it. I have over 20 years experience as a medical/science writer and thought, mistakenly, that crafting a children’s story couldn’t be as difficult. Wrong!
After many months of working with a Photoshop instructor and graphic designer to help make the illustrations and layout complement each other, look professional and appealing, I had a few digital copies printed by a quality printer and was happy with the outcome. I thought we were done. Wrong!
At this point, I decided to attend the Publishing University sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) http://www.ibpa-online.org/ in May 2011 in NYC. I thought it would be the best place to meet others relevant to the industry of writing, illustrating, publishing. Most of all, I needed to learn how to market my books as a writer and self-publisher.
I had no idea what that experience would bring. Let me share some insights and lessons learned—more than I bargained for or was ready to accept. Basically, it was back to the digital drawing board!