Self-publishing ‘Let’s Visit New Hope,’ Part 2: Manuscript and Thumbnails

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The new children’s book ‘Let’s Visit New Hope’, written by Gayle Goodman and Roy Ziegler and illustrated by me, Pat Achilles, has just been released by the New Hope Historical Society. We used Amazon’s online publishing service, Createspace, to publish it.  This series of posts will follow the steps in the creation of the book.  

Before even writing the manuscript for Let’s Visit New Hope, co-author Gayle Goodman wisely talked to and surveyed a number of second-graders at New Hope-Solebury Lower Elementary School.  She polled them on which sites, pastimes and events in the town were their favorites.  This gave her excellent criteria for what to include in the book and what to leave out – a kid’s-eye perspective of what is most important in the town. From this information she fleshed out the story and then historian Roy Ziegler wove the history of the town into the narrative .

lvnhmsphotoAn illustrator needs a finished manuscript, or at least a very-nearly finished one, to start working on a project. When the authors brought me this manuscript it was approximately 10 pages long, typed and double-spaced.  We envisioned this becoming a 32-page fully illustrated book, since 32 is a typical (though not exclusive) number of pages for a children’s picture book.  (Createspace accepts as few as 24 pages for a book.) Throughout our design process the manuscript underwent editing, but the basic page count and storyline was established with the first manuscript.

The authors had suggestions as to what should be depicted on some pages, but they left most of the art decisions to me.  As I mentioned in my previous post, we wanted to create a pencil sketch dummy book to show to prospective donors to the project.  Gayle had tentatively broken the manuscript into page-by-page chunks of text, so from that I started the design process by drawing small, very loose sketches called thumbnails, and making small double-page spread layouts.

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You’ll see how these thumbnail sketches changed through our progress – and some changed a lot.  But this basic layout showed us the flow of the book, and we could see which pages perhaps needed more descriptive text or more room for art. At this time I also started gathering a lot of photo reference material about the subjects in the book – I went to New Hope for an afternoon and took photos of the buildings from various angles, and collected pages and pages of reference from websites and books. After this step I felt I could start the dummy book, which I’ll write about in my next post.

You can obtain author-and-illustrator signed copies of ‘Let’s Visit New Hope’  at http://www.newhopehs.org. My next post coming soon: The Dummy Book. Please write any questions in the comment box below the post. If you want to read future posts as they are published, subscribe to my blog by clicking on the +Follow box at the lower right of your screen and you will get email notifications when I have posted the next article.

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