Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Status Update, Summer 2013 #LittleRaindropsBigPlunge

Well, hello!

The summer is nearing its end, and the new school year is about to begin! It sounds like a perfect time to give everyone an update on the book's progress and our upcoming plans.

Sometimes working on a book can be a difficult thing for us authors and illustrators, because it's such a HUGE process. Lots of the things that we do (like revising the story) are time consuming, and sometimes things (like researching certain topics) can be a tad dull, and some things (like sketching and re-sketching) can even be very tiring. But the worst part is, no one but us gets to see all the hard work we put into these things! And these things are VERY important things!

So what I like to do each time I work is sign into a Time Sheet. It might sound silly, but it's great because, over time, we get to see how far we've come since the start of the project! Take a look at only one of my Time Sheets. (I have at least TEN of these!)

And that's not even ALL of it!

In fact, here is what we have done so far. (Keep in mind that Mr. H is a full time teacher, and not only do I work elsewhere full time, but I also have been taking classes in the evenings. So we aren't the fastest turtles. But we sure work hard!) The cool part about this is that I pretty much blogged about it all fairly early on, which helped me to keep track of what happened!

"Our Story's Story"
The Very Beginning:

-Mr. H wrote Little Raindrop's story! (We will have to ask how long it took him to do that part!)
-Mr. H decides he wants to publish his story.
-Mr. H decides he also needs an illustrator.
July, 2011:
-Mr. H looks for an illustrator online, and then finds me on the SCBWI site!
-I do a few sketches for Mr. H. (here they are!)
August, 2011:
-Mr. H and I talk about the project. We decide it would be a good test for me to illustrate a full color double page spread to see if we will enjoy working together on this project. Mr. H mails me a section of the story, the River Habitat.
-I sketch out a few different layouts for the spread. I decide I like a certain layout. But I realize I don't know how to draw some of these animals!
-I research kinds of animals that live in a River Habitat. Then I sketch and sketch and sketch them. (see the sketches here)
-I worked on the final piece. It took me long enough, (about 32 hours!) but I finally completed it! (See the work from Start to Finish here.)
September, 2011:
-Mr. H sends me the rest of the story. I like it!
-Mr. H and I decide we really want to work on Little Raindrop's book together, so we write up a contract!
-I research how to write a GOOD contract! One that is fair to both the author and illustrator. This is the not-fun part of the job. The paperwork... ugh!
October, 2011:
-I start up Little Raindrop's Blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. (click here to see the first blog post!)
November, 2011:
-Little Raindrop needs to be a true character. So I sketch and sketch until he shows himself! (see the sketches)
December, 2011:
-I go through the manuscript to plot out my layout. I realize there is a TON of awesome stuff in this story. So Mr. H and I have a chat and decide this book needs to not only be a Chapter Book, but also a trilogy! (here's the proof!)
January-March, 2012:
-I organize the text for layout purposes. I am actively editing and revising the story as I go at this point in time. Chopping things off here, adding things on here, etc.
-I sketch out some double page spreads. (see examples here)
-I try to figure out a consistent way to present certain pages in the book. Sometimes I needed help from Mr. H's class!-I also work out how I want to paint and illustrate the story, and the steps I need to take to draw them quicker and easier!
-Somewhere along the line here, we both did some research on how we want to Self Publish! This was one crazy Time Eater! But in the end we figured it all out. And it gave me lots of knowledge on the topic that I could pass along to my readers. (Like this stuff, here.)
March-May, 2012:
-I actively work through the spring to draw and layout the pages for the book dummy.
-I re-work the cover. (see it here)
-I complete the first two chapters of the dummy book! PHEW! (here it is!)
-I learn that I have too much stuff going on at once, and I decide not to take any more classes until I complete Little Raindrop's book. (Talk about having Crazy Eyes!)
-I design and print up bookmarks and buttons for marketing!
-Little Raindrop's Cafe Press store opens!
June, 2012:
-I visit Mr. H's classroom of totally awesome kids! (see it here)
June-August, 2012:
-I learn about Kickstarter, and Mr. H and I discuss that it might be the way to go for us!
-I read a book on marketing, and I realize I need to know more about our target age, and what kinds of books Third Graders really like to read.
-I do a lot of research on other books in Little Raindrop's genre. I check word counts, vocabulary, page numbers, numbers of chapters, artistic styles, topics, how the books handle layout and design- EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING I can think of to see where Little Raindrop fits in. Now that I have a dummy book in hand, I can really see what needs to be changed or re-worked as far as fitting in with the crowd.
-The Little Raindrop plushies are born! :D (you can see them here)
-I design and print up business cards for sharing!
September-November, 2012:
-Mr. H continues writing the last few chapters of the book. I take some time to work on stuff for my own business, MLC Illustration. (For things like calendars!)
December, 2012:
-We launch the Around the World with Little Raindrop section of the blog!
January, 2013:
-Mr. H sends me the last four chapters of the book!
January-August, 2013:
-I finish up on some non Little Raindrop projects.
-I continually blog about Little Raindrop's spring and summer adventures.
-I hunker down and weed through the entire manuscript, to be sure we have all the correct vocabulary, that the chapters are all the same length, that all the science topics needed are covered, and all scientific facts are correct. I add a few more Activity Pages, so that each chapter now has four instead of two. I check the story for consistency in characters speech and actions, for number of Quote Drops and Fascinating Facts, and to be sure the story flows naturally. (Just like water!)
August, 2013:
-I do a video chat with Mr. H's class of 2013! (learn more here)
-Mr H. comes to visit, and we bring Little Raindrop to Mystic Aquarium! (blog post coming soon)
-I near completion on the manuscript's revision and cleanup.
September, 2013:
-I should be completely done with the entire manuscript revision/cleanup!

With all the stuff we have already done, it's hard to believe we still have SO much work to do! But here is our checklist, nonetheless:

Mega To-Do List!
-Send the entire manuscript to our professional editor
-Send the manuscript to a few of our science and teacher friends for revision
-While waiting for revision to be completed, complete the Marketing Plan
-Meet with the editor for feedback
-Final revision of manuscript
-Plot the visual layout of the pages of entire book (this can be done while waiting for feedback, too.)
-Create a FULL, COMPLETE dummy book
-Gather names for the Pre-Order and Email list
-Determine price of printed books and estimated time of printing
-Send complete dummy book to art and layout friends for revision
-Revise and edit; maybe send to editor one last time
-Final art must be completed. (That's drawing all the comics, all the double page spreads and special items throughout.)
-Final art scanned and merged with layout and text components.
-(Don't forget to order/pay for the text font!)
-Launch Kickstarter campaign
-Complete and print final book on regular printer. Check for mistakes, and send the final version to mistake-checkers!
-Get ISBN number, register the story and copyrights and all that legal stuff!
-Double check everything with the Printer. (From colors, to text, to layout and design. This might take a trip to VA.)
-Print the books!
-Plan and prepare for two book launch parties
-Send the books for Pre-Order customers
-Send special Thank You gifts for all our wonderful helpers!
-Sell those books, baby!
-Create Little Raindrop's Official web site at some point
-Plot and outline the next two books
And there is probably a lot more that I am missing right now! I will add and subtract things as we go along, but this list sure is going to help me to stay on track! And it will help the readers see just how much work gets put into an awesome book like this one!

Thanks for reading, and for all your support! We could never accomplish such a task without our readers and fans like you!

See you soon!
~Miss Melanie

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