September 8, 2011
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The Final Touch, Part 3
I left the IBPA conference with renewed determination. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and want to scrap the whole project, but I’d gone too far to abandon it. I tried making some of the experts’ suggestions myself, but finally recognized I was spinning my wheels. By the end of May 2011, a full year and a half after starting the book, I started again.
But not from scratch. After all, I had accomplished a great deal, learned much about the technical aspects of independent publishing, and started my own small press—Story Quest Books, LLC: storyquestbooks.com. I had the book converted to the iBook format and placed it for sale on iTunes at the end of May.
I took an online course about writing children’s books—Write4Kids: Write4kids.com—revised the story yet again (draft #20), solicited lots of feedback from parents who read the story to their young children, and revised, revised, revised.
At that point, I turned the project over to TLC Graphics tlcgraphics.com. They started working on the new design and layout in June, keeping the illustration style pretty much intact. They used background texture and color to help make the story text stand on its own and easy to read on each page. Also, we enlarged the book to 10×10 inches vs. the original 9×9.
One of the most important changes made was creating my author platform—Connecting Children with Science and Nature. This will be the theme for each next book! More emphasis was placed on the educational piece contributed by NASA’s Chief Technologist nasa.gov about the real Sun. This opens many opportunities for classroom teaching and library interest.
So now Sunbelievable is at the printer! The title came into my head while stopped at a red light near my home. The late afternoon light was remarkable and I couldn’t help thinking it was truly unbelievable—the genesis of Sunbelievable!
I should have books in hand in a week or two. That will be the final touch!!
September 8, 2011
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The Final Touch, Part 2
Publishing University offered many opportunities to interact with publishing industry experts. I set up 15-minute appointments with book marketers to get feedback on my digital copies and learn what next steps to take. I was in for a big surprise.
While much of the feedback was positive regarding the illustration approach, I also received a lot of constructive criticism. Here are some highlights:
- Placing real children in digital backgrounds isn’t “standard”—use a cartoon effect instead.
- The book is too small at 9×9 inches—better to make it larger to stand out.
- “Branding” was missing—what was my author platform to distinguish the book in the marketplace?
- The story text was “lost” in the vivid illustrations—redo the layout to make the text easier to read.
- The characters didn’t have a problem to solve, some adversity to overcome—revise the story plot and make its message clear.
Feeling much deflated by the end of the second day, I attended a presentation by a professional book design company, TLC Graphics tlcgraphics.com. They featured many “before” and “after” book designs, and that’s when I had my “aha” moment. After the presentation, I spoke with Tom Dever, owner of the company, showed him my book and described the experts’ feedback.
I realized that I needed professional help to improve the book. I couldn’t do it myself, and TLC Graphics seemed a great fit to take my book to another level if I wanted to compete in the crowded children’s book marketplace. Although I’d been working on the book for over a year, and was impatient to finish and move on to the next book, I was yet to begin the final touch!