The Midnight Hare: drawing

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This is so like the finished picture for the opening page of The Midnight Hare, I think I must have scanned the drawing early in the process, as the proportions and imagery are so similar. The stripes of the paper are very obvious, I used pastel paper because it was the only paper I liked that came in books – I always seem to work on blocks or drawing books, not on single pieces of paper. I had to use Photoshop to get rid of some of the corrugated look when the illustrations were painted. I actually scanned a section of the paper the same size as the finished pages were to be, and then copied and pasted the artwork on to this using Photoshop, so that the margins of the design were without these lines. Also it gave a very clean look to the margins.

There was an earlier picture, which I gave as a present to a friend, which had Milo with his back to the camera, so to speak.  I was going to use this in the book but then changed my mind, as I wanted his face to be seen in the first painting.

The Midnight Hare. 25.9.18

 

Different stages of one page. On the top left, the original draft with the text put in using Photoshop, then the large image on the left, the more or less finished illustration, then on the bottom left, the printed page set up using Adobe Acrobat, here resaved in JPEG which has made the colours for a bit odd when it comes up on my website, but which in the book was fine. In fact the printers, Martins of Spittal, did a wonderful job on the printing, they took endless pains to get it right, used thick paper, got the colours right, were wonderful to work with, and charged me a very reasonable rate.

I quite like the earlier stage, especially the grey grass, but painting on brown paper meant I would have too much of the background.

With the new book I am probably going to paint detailed illustrations in gouache, pencil and crayon, on heavy Fabriano white, NOT texture, a wonderful paper that I find I have a big block of on the decorative easel in the corner of my small octagonal studio, an easel that I do not use for painting, it would fill up half the floor space, but which has proved brilliant for storing larger sheets of thick paper etc. This easel leans up against one of the windows. It’s BIG, and has a wide shelf.  I reckon it was used in a country house for displaying paintings, rather than being used as a painter’s easel.

My plan chest, which was hauled up stairs with much difficulty (one of the drawers had stuck) after I got it out of storage, looked so ridiculous in its new space, that I then gave it away to the person who got it back out of the house, who fettled it, and found a new owner.

The new book I will send round to publishers, and if I don’t find one, will print a (very)LIMITED EDITION and sell them locally.

Meanwhile the boxes in the cupboard, full of The Midnight Hare, empty slowly. And I shall try and keep up this blog, whilst exploring Instagram, Twitter, and any other platforms I can discover.

 

Flying over the Borderlands

9781527216716During a month when I should have been putting all my energy into launching The Midnight Hare into the world, I sat down and wrote another story, and did the first very rough rough – a story at the moment called The House, the Cat and the Snow, though that won’t be the final title. But now I have returned to what should be my priority at the moment, and am going to plunge into all the information I have acquired about getting one’s work out into the world.

I’ll also write a few words here and there about other projects.  Why not?

I have had a re-order from Coldstream Crafts, and last week was told that the book had sold out in The Market Shop and Sallyport Gallery in Berwick, so I am taking a batch of copies down there this coming week; and I was also asked to send some copies to a bookshop in Orkney, so the Hare has flown up there too, which is a good thought.

Each day, when I can manage it, I shall make an entry into this blog, as it was set up in the first place as a record of my publishing myself, without sending The Midnight Hare out to any publishers. Some boxes have been emptied, so have had to be replenished from the cupboard where they are piled up (no-one is allowed to go into the cupboard, as they are tottering a bit at the moment).

En marche: The Midnight Hare

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Spent this morning putting The Midnight Hare up on my WooCommerce site.  The book I bought was actually useful, I followed the instructions, and all seems to be working.  Fingers crossed. My fruitless attempts at trying to put my book up on Amazon, and the less than helpful responses from their “help-desk” I have expressed on my other  site, caralockhartsmith.wordpress, as I didn’t want to sully this particular site with my frustration. The last two days have been hard work, but interesting, and I feel something has been achieved.  All things I should have done months ago.  Hey ho.  I also prefer the layout that Woocommerce has created for my site, it reads better. So OK so far.

Got the Cart, Now for the Horse

 

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Sat down just before our evening meal to do something that fills me with trepidation, that is I decided to upload a system to sell on-line. Much to my amazement, after leaving the computer on and eating the meal, cooked as always on Saturday night by my husband, I return and find the program seems to have inserted itself OK, so now the task for tomorrow is to upload some substance; starting, of course, with The Midnight Hare, but then adding other books that I have either written and illustrated, or just illustrated, which were published by Serafina Books (have of course okayed this with the owner of Serafina Press, editor and also author, Jennifer Doherty); and to add to the jollity, will  have some of my Northern Alphabet Postcards and Berwick Bear cards on offer. It will take me a day or two to work out the manner in which I should do this, and I shall intersperse my efforts with feeding the birds and playing solitaire and picking sweet peas… la la la, what a nice life I lead… I would love to get someone else to do all the IT stuff, but one of the reasons I started this project was to LEARN.

There are hosts and hosts of things I should have been dong months ago, including publicity and setting up e-commerce, but I was so involved in finishing the book and getting it to the printers intact, I disregarded these other matters, and am now at somewhat out of sync. But never mind, the printers, Martins in Spittal, just over the water from the main town of Berwick upon Tweed, have done a really nice job with the printing, without bankrupting me, and the fact that I like the look and feel of the book as an object is one of the most important things of all.

Had some good days vis-vis The Midnight Hare – a friend wrote and said she liked it more than anything else that I had done; and this morning I went into Kelso and saw a gallery-owner friend, Tony, who offered to sell the book in the Tony Huggins-Haig Gallery (process already started apparently), and has put quite a reasonable picture of me holding the book on the gallery Facebook page. And one of my first young readers, aged three, apparently wanted the book read again immediately (which I am told is unusual for him); and was very taken with the giraffes.

The Midnight Hare: The Book, The Card

 

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Picked up two boxes of the actual book, and another 35 boxes arriving on Monday. Sat with it in the back of the car all the way back from Martins the Printers in Berwick, then pulled the tape of the top box and riffled through the book.  The printers have done a good job.  Phew! Now for hard work of a different ilk. The little image underneath is a card which I am sending out to various bookshops, and to people I know to accompany either the book or the information sheet. This has been an interesting project so far, I have no regrets about doing the book myself, and am glad that the gilt hasn’t been rubbed off the gingerbread by trailing it around various publishers beforehand. This always had the feeling of a self-publishing project.

The Midnight Hare: Information Sheet

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I thought of printing out this information sheet on nice cream paper, but it would have changed the colours of the imagery; and besides, nice cream paper is very expensive and maybe a tad too aren’t we refined. 100gsm white will do OK, and the envelopes are nice and thick. The books, all 3000, have been printed, and are waiting for me up at the printers, the first batch this Wednesday, and then the rest of them we will carry off to Coldstream in the small car over the next four weeks. They will be stored for a month on a pallet at the printers.  37 boxes of books is a whole lot of books in boxes.

To go with this A4 information sheet will be an order form, with more info, and also a  card that I  have had printed which is a small replica of the cover. Spent yesterday looking up bookshops. I already have several local outlets.  The publication date has been changed to July.

Really a lot of things should have been sorted months ago, according to what I have read, but this is only one 32-page picture book, it doesn’t have to have a fanfare; and I wanted to have the actual book before I started doing the publicity/marketing.

People have been asking kindly after The Midnight Hare ….. When I first started selling my work to bookshops and cardshops I was rather amazed when the reaction was so friendly and positive; also the same experience when I had a stall at Berwick Farmers’ Market.  I realise that I don’t mind selling at all, if someone doesn’t want something, fine, it’s nice to meet people anyway whether they buy or not.

The Midnight Hare, all systems go

TEXTPAGE14AND15Happy today, as I got the new set of digital proofs from Martins the Printers in Berwick upon Tweed and they look fine and dandy, so all systems go now, I should be able to pick up the copies within the next fortnight. Carrier was going to cost £100, so instead we will  make two or three car journeys to pick up copies from the printers 14 miles away (we only have a smallish car). I have a place to store the books that isn’t an outhouse, as damp does awful things to paper and card. Have spent the morning reading about the publicity that I should have started to engender months ago, but I didn’t want to do anything until I had the actual copies – publication date is now officially June 21st. Shall leave WooCommerce for the meantime, while I concentrate on local outlets, and try setting up the book on Amazon. Any copies sold through either of my websites will be the old bucket and spade method of cheques through the post. I am setting up a separate page for this on both my websites. Signed copies and dedicated copies will be available at no extra cost, and the postage and packing charges will be modest.

The Midnight Hare, step by step

 

 

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After a long time, and many hesitations, (including a typo that had wormed its way somehow between one moment and another on to the back cover – a typo luckily put right in an instant by the printers) The Midnight Hare is entered officially on Nielsen, is ready to print, and has a publication date of June 21st. I am ordering a little greetings card A6 size consisting of the back and front cover, which will be sent out with publicity material. I only put the book on Nielsen a month before publication date, but this does not worry me too much, as although it is late, I suspect my early sales will be local, as the book has a Borders setting; and there are quite a few people who have stocked my books and before. One of the reasons for doing this book myself was to keep this connection with the people who buy; and to know what is going on with the book. I need to sell about 650 copies at wholesale price to get my actual printing expenses back, and am not in that much of a rush. The book is a story I like, and it will find its own level. There is plenty of work to do in the marketing department, but I have found in the past that people are very pleasant to deal with, and are usually happy to look at new work, so this is hard work but not too daunting.