How we choose the story we want to publish
The best children’s fiction always has a message, and to capture the reader’s imagination, that message must come through in a fun, creative and age-appropriate language. The story must have believable story lines and characters like the readers, who get in and out of all sorts of interesting trouble.
They must have the basic elements of good fiction—character, conflict, plot, theme, setting, and dialogue. The text must contain strong verbs, vivid adjectives, and language that lends itself to reading aloud. All these elements will ensure a fun, engaging read and therefore, a great book to publish!
Finding an illustrator
We´re always looking for illustrators that inspire and catch our imagination. Recently our main form of research is social media; we search on Facebook, twitter, pinterest, linkedin, instagram… Many times we will look at artists work through shares or likes on Facebook, or images pinned on pinterest. They are fantastic marketing & promotional tools for artists and great for sharing information instantly on a worldwide scale.
For our first publication The Selfish Giant, we found illustrator Kike Ibáñez via a colleague’s suggestion. She thought his illustrations would work with the text, and she was right!. For our second book The Remarkable Rocket, illustrator Eva Sánchez Gómez contacted us with a brief email that included links to her webpage and social media.
How the book is made
Once we´ve decided on our text and illustrator, our next step is to design the book. For our Oscar Wilde collection we decide on a paper back format, size 21×27, covers 300gsm matt laminated, 170gsm for the inners. The books are printed digitally in full colour and the run ranges from 300 to 500 copies. Unfortunately, more than often these decisions are based on costs rather that creative and artistic preference.
Picture books are usually 32 pages in length. It’s important how we divide the spreads to allow a good beginning, middle and end. It’s no good having a great build-up to the story, only to find out that we have four spreads left for the main story and the ending. Ideally the story should run over 12-14 spreads.
In the above photograph, you can see our studio floor covered with the mock-up layout of The Remarkable Rocket, 32 pages with text and illustrations. The text has been cut out and positioned with cello tape. This creative stage is very important as we need to be aware of our aim: to keep our readers interested by using a mix of single page images and double page spreads. For The Selfish Giant and The Remarkable Rocket the illustrators had to draw around a designated text area that had previously been decided by the editor.
As the illustrator sends us his first drafts the text is also being edited, proofread and corrected, and therefore the structure of the book begins to take shape. By this point we are also making decisions on the covers, fonts, typography size and colour.
We also have to remember to use an interesting font but bearing in mind that the text must not be tricky to read as our main readers are children. It is essential to make sure that the design and illustrations work with the text, creating an enjoyable reading experience.
There is never a moment when you feel a book is ready for print. We could be proofreading, correcting and tweaking indefinitely. Sending the PDF document to the printer is the most exciting and stressful moment in the picture book making process.
In our next post we will talk about printing, collaborators, costs and how to sell the book.