Update on the First “Montecristo Travels” Children’s Travel Story Book!
So much has happened since I made my announcement about the upcoming book. There is a slow and steady hum of activity with the book and, Dear Reader, so much excitement that I can barely contain myself! Having someone enthuse, “I am pre-ordering two copies!” just makes me grin from ear to ear and sets my tail wagging at a breeze-making speed.
I’ve also heard rumblings of something else though, something that feels dismissive. It’s been expressed with comments such as, “The creation of a children’s book is a simple thing. Why not write a real book?” *sigh* If only that vision of simplicity were true. The reality, as we are learning, is a children’s book is a series of complex steps with various stages and activities overlapping, leapfrogging, and sometimes conflicting with each other. The truth is writing a children’s book is a time consuming labour of love – a very s l o w labour of love.
Obviously, the first part of the process is writing the story. That, in and of itself, is no small undertaking. Then, unless you have the talent yourself, you need to find an illustrator – one who shares your vision, will be dedicated to your project, and is compatible to work with. You also have to find an illustrator you can afford.
Our first illustrator was extremely talented but, sadly, after about a dozen concept sketches, he went missing. We could no longer reach him by phone, email, or even registered mail. We had to deal with the hurt and disappointment, putting the book on the backburner while we started a fresh hunt for a new illustrator. It took over six months, but we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and tried again.
We struck gold when we found and hired Allison. Not only is she fabulously talented – wait, oh just wait until you see her work! – she is also a smart businesswoman and very easy to work with. We’ve had oodles of exchanges over the concept sketches she has created. I can’t stress enough how much we value her willingness and even eagerness to keep the communication constant. Allie wants to make sure she is on the right track at all times and so the emails fly back and forth or we meet in person. Her openness to re-do and re-visit sketches without any ego getting in the way is refreshing. Allie walks that fine line between putting forth her own artistic vision and pleasing the client perfectly. We could not be happier!
Then there’s the work on the text. So often I bump into writers and bloggers who refuse to use an editor. All I can say is, it’s their loss. Dawn has not only been a friend and support; she has also been the best editor. Dawn manages to edit the text while staying entirely true to my voice. When she edits a post, she always finds another gem that was hiding just around the corner, out of our sight. She coaxes it out and makes it shine, adding depth and often fun to our blog. She once told me that when she edits for us/me, she imagines me sitting on a pillow on her desk chatting with her. So she hears me!
Dawn also brings other talents to the table, such as her sharp eye for detail. As a talented writer and editor, photographer and image editor, Dawn brings a unique, critical perspective to every page of the book. To quote her from her website:
“I love digging into new information, chewing my way through it, and then editing and designing the information for maximum readability and comprehension. I’m an information genie! I live to transform unstructured information into clear, concise and visually attractive materials.”
It is that combination of talents that has been a priceless contribution at every step along the way.
Once Mom and Dawn had tweaked the text, and Mom and Allie had a good handle on the concept sketches, we met altogether. And by “we,” I really mean Mom, Allie and Dawn. I was the welcoming committee and supervised from the top of the couch. It’s a tough job, but someone had to do it. It was also a special meeting because Allie and Dawn had never met in person although they had exchanged emails.
What was the purpose of the meeting, you ask? Well, we needed to marry the text to the images, ensure the images flow, place the text in the best position on the page, identify the pages that must stay together face-to-face, and consider details that affect the method and cost of publication. This is the kind of work that definitely benefits from three sets of eyes, multiple sets of talents, and that special kind of synergy that comes from three people feeding off of each other. That energy filled the room, wrapped around me, and – I must confess – lulled me into a most restful snooze while my team worked!
It took nearly three hours, but we got it sorted out. With a lot of red pen marks and scribbles and page groupings and notes and photographs, the concept stage of the book is finally done! Well, almost done. Poor Allie had a lot of work to take home. But she happily informed us that a good portion of the work would be done within about a week!
The good news is that with Allie’s commitment, we are right on track for a book launch in November 2014! I don’t have an exact date yet, but it seems fitting that the book launch will be in the same month that our blog reaches the 4-year milestone. Yay!
We can’t sit on our laurels just yet though. There is still a lot of work ahead of us to make our publication date. We still need to:
- Get the text translated;
- Finalize the art and complete the drawings in colour;
- Do a final revision of text layout and art;
- Prepare the copy and upload it into the Amazon software to publish the book in English,
- Prepare and upload copy to publish the book in French;
- Do what needs to be done to publish an e-book version in both languages; and …
- Plan the launch party!
So there you have it, Dear Reader, an update on where things stand with the Montecristo Travels Children’s Book. I hope you are as excited about this project as I am … well, as we are. And I hope you have a better idea of the work, dedication and effort of not just one person, but of a whole team of people we have at our side. The project really would not be possible without them.
And I haven’t even told you about the website and social media side of things! Stay tuned!