From Idea to Book #4: Step Away

illustration

A slow burning idea can sometimes work very effectively. Are you a prolific ideas generator? See what happens when you slow yourself down. Put your idea onto paper/a device and then leave it to bubble away… Notice how much more focused you are when you get back to it, or when it starts to call you. Everyone has their ideal situation to generate ideas. But it is well worth trying something different, if only to reaffirm what you already know!

For one of my books I was super-excited when I started, and still super-excited some nine years later when the book finally hit the bookshops. Yes, that’s right- nine years! About six or seven different iterations, three changes in art style, rhyming text, prose, and so on. Each time I thought that was the right version. Then I kept pushing for something more…

Stepping away can actually help speed up the process.

It was a slow burner. It got better with time. It was a relatively new experience to hold a book that took that long, but wholly satisfying. I learned a lot about my own process, improved on many levels, like how to develop characters and the worlds they inhabit, and there is something about the painting that I found more considered and consistent.

Stepping away creates time to assess an idea on a much deeper level. It helps to become less emotionally attached to the work too, which is something that will be useful when it is time to hand it over to a publisher.

Combined with time away, the importance of sketchbooks and notebooks in the creative process can’t be underestimated. They hold all our thoughts and ideas and free up our brains to create new ones. So when you are stuck, or feel like you aren’t giving your best, just step away and wait.

“Cowboy Come home”

character, children's books, design, From the sketchbooks, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, London, publishing, stories

Working with text and pictures.

The text is written and the layouts are nearly done. The working tittle is above. Here are sketches showing the treatment of the text which, to me, should be almost illustrated. The final exploration will be to bring type and image much closer together.

Recently, agents and publishers have asked for more finished presentation of book ideas. I have to admit to refusing to do this. It takes blood, sweat and tears! The reward is often a rejection with little or no explanation. It is an understandable development, though. Many people want to be published and there are not enough publishing lists is one reason.

Self publishing has opened a door of opportunity for the brave ones. It will take a little while longer to find the best way to do this with kids books, in my view, as they are still more expensive to produce.

K