Traditional or Indie Publishing? Keeping the ball rolling

Originally I assumed that I would use IngramSpark as a printer so that the book would be available to bookstores and libraries. But I had two concerns. First, I wanted better quality than POD (print on demand). Second, it seems that quarantine has provided opportunity for many others to stay home, make sourdough bread, and write the book they’ve always imagined. The delays were increasing. I realized that the cost of having a limited print run would leave very little margin for expenses, so I began to explore other options.

I recently interviewed Jill Morgan at Purple House Press on Redeemed Reader. She takes vintage and out-of-print children’s books and has them reprinted in high-quality resolution and binding, so I asked her advice. She referred me to a printer in South Korea and provided a contact here in the States. It  took very little consideration to make the decision.

Ryan is in high demand as a carpenter, but he spent the month of August focusing on the illustrations. I tried to be patient and not bother him too much, though I did request a bookmark design. Whenever I tell someone about the project, it helps to have something tangible to hand out, nicer than a business card–something they would want to keep and actually use, and maybe give extras to a friend. I am thrilled that Ryan is elaborating on the story in the illustrations, bringing it to life with characters who look like real individuals with real emotion, and also through the resurrection symbol of a lily. The bookmarks are printed and trickling their way into the world!

Right now I am waiting. I have been exploring crowdfunding, primarily to build up anticipation and collect pre-sales of the book. When the illustrations are ready, I plan to create a video and a crowdfunding page to promote the book while Ryan designs the layout. It is SO much easier to talk about it in person…social media is honestly a challenge, but I’m slowly learning from others.

My goal is not to find the One Right Way For Selling An Indie Published Picture Book. I don’t think I have to discover The Secret to determine a successful publishing endeavor. Something Better Coming is entirely in the Lord’s hands, and I trust Him to do good things with it. I have been SO encouraged by the inquiries of friends who ask about the book, and there is simply a lot of waiting involved. After the final layout is submitted to the printer and the proofs are approved, it will take 3-4 months for the copies to arrive. And then we celebrate!!! Lord willing, the book will be will be ready to hold in your hands in the spring. His timing is perfect, and He knows when the time is right.

Truth, Story, and Open Space

My husband pulled up to the window at Joe Beans and placed our usual order. While waiting for the barista to finish making our drinks, I set down my knitting and picked up my phone.

“Look at this.” I showed him a Facebook post in a children’s book self-publishing group that compared two very different types of artwork. A well-meaning individual had offered both as evidence that you can find bright, colorful illustrations for a bargain, instead of paying top dollar for a seemingly simple drawing with minimal color.

The first was of a child in an upper story apartment. She was musing over a bee that had found her window box of flowers. Even without text, the story was implied. The second illustration depicted a large group of animals that needed a narrative to explain why they were there.

“You see what I see?” I asked. “The second picture has no open space.” I scrolled down to show him other similar, intensely-colored examples. Some picture book writers were pretty enthusiastic about them.

“They remind me of video games,” he said.

“Exactly. Video game art is fine for games, but not for Stories. There’s no place to rest your eyes. No balance and arrangement of ideas.” I tried to sip my frozen latte slowly. It’s hard to make it last long enough. “Are we going to stop by Wal-Mart?”

“Let’s skip it,” he said. “I don’t feel like getting peanut butter today.”

I agreed. I didn’t need the overstimulation of a store that felt full, but not of purpose.

We took a detour going home, driving past houses and trees and an unusual cactus. Even in a rural area, there is plenty to see on the ground, but when your eyes are tired, look up. The blue open space is ruffled with clouds just above the treeline, uplifting after five dreary days of rain. God knows our eyes need frequent opportunities to rest.

I thought about our picture books and easy readers at home. The boys love Richard Scarry and I Spy books which are full of purposeful content, but they are also partial to the highly expressive and humorous Elephant and Piggie easy readers. Mo Willems never uses backgrounds, and rarely props or costumes, leaving plenty of white space for the reader to mentally fill in the Story.

I don’t object to full-page, colorful illustrations, but there is definitely an art to choosing both what to include and what to omit. Strunk’s admonition to “Omit needless words” applies to details in text and in art.

How the scene is arranged on the page makes a difference, too. This is why Literaritea Press looks for quality illustrators who know that balance, perspective, and color should harmonize with the text and improve upon it.

Above my desk is an open space, still waiting for artwork. We’ve lived in this house for two-and-a-half years, and the wall is plain blue, like the sky. I haven’t decided what painting to hang there for inspiration, but I will know when I see it.

To either side are windows full of skies, grass, and trees, provided by my wise and loving Creator. He knows I need open space.