Happy 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.
It is really strange to feel that, after a long time, the scans are almost ready to be sent to the printer, all done over the Internet, how different from the way things used to be. The text is now set up. I have small alterations to make to the front cover scan, and then need to do some serious proof-reading. One thinks that after so many versions enough combing of the text has gone on, but just this afternoon I noticed that I had typed MOONWUZO PRESS (an earlier version) instead of MOONWUZO BOOKS on the copyright page; and this could have gone off to the printers so easily, and even into the book. Making changes after the proofs are returned, that is changes due to one’s own errors, is an expensive business.
Tomorrow I will continue to print out copies of each page and mount them in a handsome hardback ring-bound sketchbook that I bought ages ago, more or less for this purpose. This will be sent snail-mail to the printers (just to give them something to check against when they are setting-up the book), the day before I send the scans. Then that is it, as far as the making the book goes; in spite of quite a bit of research into process of selling, in a practical sense I have almost been totally remiss so far about publicity, as I found it necessary to concentrate on one thing at a time.
In a way I have been putting off thinking about the next part of the process; out of nervousness, perhaps. But once the printed books arrive, I shall certainly be motivated to start getting them out there into the world. Once I get going on this, I should be OK, I got over any qualms about selling my work a long time ago, it is actually quite interesting. Selling locally, which I will probably do before an official publication date, is fine; and I have quite a few contacts.
I do like the story, which helps. It has been such a luxury to have had the time to do it the way I wanted, the time to experiment, re-do pages if necessary. The Midnight Hare has probably taken me rather too long; but maybe it just took as long as it needed.
The scans are all done now, except for one double page which I have decided to print without borders, even though the design does not cross over the page, as it is a crucial scene in the book which the borders alienate somehow. The above illustrations seem to go together OK, though having painted the two separately there is this slight disjunct. However, I am going with this as part of the atmosphere of the book. There are old-fashioned elements which I am aware of, and which I actually like.
In a week or so there will be a pre-print meeting, when I shall find out how the colours reproduce on their machines. When painting on a white ground it was necessary to reduce the magenta (using Photoshop) but I think the colours work differently on the brown. I have put the words on to these scans in Photoshop, so as to get the spacing right; but once I have seen the printers, I shall move the scans over to Acrobat for putting on the final lettering. This will all come off the scans if I take them back into Photoshop, so it is obviously necessary to get the colours reading right before I create the final scans and put them on disc.
The first process is nearly finished, now I shall have to apply myself to the publicity and the selling process; but one thing at a time….
One of the most difficult things to do has been to decide on the page structure of The Midnight Hare. This is one of the few double pages where the words are not integrated into the pictures. I have fiddled around with the width of the margins, and have settled on something in the region of 9mm/10mm, with a 3mm bleed. I would have liked to have the margins even smaller, but because of setting up the images with the bleed all round, I think I underestimated how narrow 8mm would be. I have not had any straight edges round the paintings, this is deliberate, I wanted a hand-made feel, so the pictures were spilling into the surrounding background, rather than the brown acting as a frame. I did a lot more work to these two pictures, which has made them more vivid, so I am quite pleased about this. I shall start putting on the text next week, for which I need to use Adobe Acrobat.
A completely new idea for the logo – a small pen and ink figure drawn on grey paper, lightly coloured, then isolated from the background and set against a moon and sky set up on the computer. This will be very small, obviously; but I think it works much better than an earlier attempt. It shows up OK in black and white. The Moonwuzo is a character from an earlier book, “Old Merlaine”, which was published by Heinemann some years past. I have been working on an illustrated dedication, and a small oval for the last page of the book, and then all the imagery is finished. Most of the scans have now been done, though they need some cleaning up and then the words will be laid over the imagery, in most cases. Hoping to get “The Midnight Hare” to the printers within the next few weeks.
This is the first page that as been set up to print, original in PDF, though this is a jpeg. It will be necessary to go over to Adobe Acrobat to put in the text, then store on the desktop until the book is put on to disc. I have thought for a long time about how to present The Midnight Hare, as most of the words are to be incorporated in the paintings; and I have decided to go for a rough edge – this takes far more time, as the Photoshop magic wand doesn’t really work with this, as the margins aren’t that clean, and it is inclined to pick up colour in the painting itself. However, I like the hand-made look. The new scanner has arrived, the blues are coming out fine, and not breaking up as they did before. The skies will need work on the computer to eliminate some of the stripeness, which comes from the paper, but a little bit of this is OK, I think it adds to the slightly crafted look, rather than having a shiny, hard-edged appearance. It is a relief to have decided on the method, now there is a lot of hard work ahead.
The blue tints seem to have worked OK on this picture of the Midnight Hare and Milo flying off above the wood. I overlaid them with various other colours and smoothed them with water, so obviously there is this one particular colour, pale cyan, that the scanner breaks up alarmingly when it is laid directly on the brown background. We came back today with the winter sun glaring straight in our eyes, and I was seeing fleeting patches of magenta and cyan and a kind of mustard yellow all over everything for a while. There was a whiteness to the sun itself and the glare surrounding it, and it made me consider cooling down the yellow in this illustration. On the other hand, the yellow works against the whiteness of the hare; and also enlivens the page, which can get too subdued with the strength of the brown as a base.
I am devouring my WordPress book at the moment, my last site was set up by someone who knew what they were doing…. I need more information on my home page, and maybe put all this here now as a blog, but haven’t found out how to do this yet. At the same time I am looking at my Photoshop book to work out another technical problem. For a technophobe this is gruelling.
This is the freest painting I have done, I just did it straight out, it will go right across two pages. The technique is gouache, neocolor crayons and ordinary crayons. Because of the size the paper is different (I prefer working in notebooks) and so the grain is going the other way which helps the look of the thing. The hare’s legs will go right across the page, and because I am having the book perfect-bound rather than stapled, probably a fraction of his limbs will be lost. But printers are pretty brilliant these days, aided by computers, so I expect the image will not be too damaged. Years ago there were great rooms full of paint and rollers and the quality of the printed image was pretty rubbish; much more satisfying these days….
I suppose all this that I am trying to do now is what is called hard work. I have worked long hours before, on commissions, staying up all night except for an hour sleeping in my clothes, I like the middle of the night with the radio on softly and no-one about. But nowadays I am more disciplined in my habits, and work mostly in the morning; except when the winter sun comes in to the little studio at the wrong angle and dazzles the page so that I can see nothing.