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.
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.
The scans are finished, and to help the printers I am sending off this mock-up of the book, just to help set up the pages, and in case there is a muddle with the scans which I am sending over the internet. The notebook has the rubber band round it because the images I stuck on with Pritt have filled up the book so that it is gaping at the edges. The other good reason for doing a mock-up like this is it helps to see misprints, punctuation, continuity. You’d think with a scant 500/600 words there was not that much room for error, especially taking into account how many times I have looked at the text; but they still occur, from those slippery typos, to the sudden understanding of how ridiculous a sentence sounds, ie. “Leave my hare alone.” Maybe one of my rare visits to the hairdressers made me notice this. Anyway, now off with the motley and on with the donkey work.
The colour proofs have come back from the printer, they were sent over the Internet and returned by snail mail, and look fine. Painting on coloured ground with gouache has surprisingly produced far less problems than painting on white with water-colour. The grain in the paper does not interfere too much, as I have got rid of it on Photoshop in the places where it was creating a stripy effect on the protagonists which I did not like, and in the sky, where it looked all wrong; but the breaking up of the colour in the rest of the background feels mostly OK. This image above is the last page of the book.
Now the colour proofs are done, I shall put the text on to the scans. I note that in the above text there should be a comma after “lane” – I was setting this up temporarily from memory rather than the actual text. I also had a line in a pivotal point in the story: “LEAVE MY HARE ALONE!” but suddenly realised that, read out loud, this sounded a bit ridiculous, especially from a boy for whom the comb is obviously not felt to be much of a necessity.
Now I am going to have to put my mind on to practical elements. Meanwhile another story is brewing in the background. There is an Owl. And a Heroine. I think.
There are a couple of elements left to sort out with this: I need to put the ISBN number on the back on the right-hand side; and I will possibly use a different font for my name (possibly Boldoni) as I don’t like the way the “L” doesn’t slope in the italic script.
Doing the cover has been worrying me for ages. The book is being perfect-bound, so I need to have a strip for the back spine. To make sure this was accurate, I used the same dusky red brown as the wider strip but paled it out on Photoshop, so there was not much disparity between the darker and the lighter red, but it gave me an accurate guideline for laying on the lettering on the spine. I was quite pleased with this solution.
I took the reviews from books that were published by Orchard Books quite a time ago, so I had to check the sources were still extant, which they were. I was amused that the spelling of one of the reviewers on the original books was spelt wrong – glad I looked it up!
I should have done the cover months ago, as the front should be used for publicity purposes. I will probably get some postcards made of the cover, with information on the back; or else get a kind of card made using both sides of the cover, and then have some information on the inside, which would be a more expensive, but I think more attractive option. Since much of the information would therefore be given by the two-sided card, I could write other information in by hand, which would accord with the self-publishing element, and would give me more leeway about the information I offered.
The printing costs are not going to ruin me; however, I won’t think about doing another book until I get my printing costs back – the other costs I will ignore until I have to tot them up for my tax return…
This is a central image of the book, where one scene runs directly into another. Putting the normal margin round it felt wrong, so I have decided to put the two pictures together, even though they are different scenes. This is the only place in the book that I have done this. The reasons are twofold: the aesthetic feels better like this, and the emotional element of the story feels more direct. It is a problem to set up a double-page spread in this manner because the margin between the pages may not print exactly right – but there is a 3mm bleed tolerance; and also, since the book is going to be perfect-bound, there won’t be a staple in the middle, which would exaggerate a mismatch. So hey, that’s the way it is going to be.
I have now done the cover, complete with lettering, and it is in my especial folder on my desktop to be put in disc, and taken up to Spittal for a pre-print meeting, where I will check the cover for size; and also check the colours in other scans. I have made two copies of the cover scans, as it is easy to misuse them. For instance, if you set uptext using Acrobat, if you take the file back into Photoshop for any reason, the lettering gets stripped off. I can’t use Photoshop lettering for the final scans as the main printer won’t recognise it.
The scanned pictures for the book are now nearly all stored as pdfs on the computer, ready for the text to be laid on to them with Adobe Acrobat. There has been a need to clean up some of the colours as the brown paper used has a ridge on it which traps the top layer of colour and produces a stripy effect. It was quite fun trying to eliminate this, but in some paintings melding the colours produced too bland an outcome. My Wacom tablet has been useful for adding details, and all sorts of clever programs on Photoshop have enabled me, for instance, to lay the painted words of the invisible Midnight Hare on to the picture, without my painting them directly on to the paper.
The text is finished, so that is the next thing to deal with. There are of course imponderables, not knowing how accurate my scanner will be when the scans are taken to the printers. On the whole I deduct some of the magenta and brighten slightly. There will be a preliminary meeting with the printers before the book goes to press, when we can hopefully sort out these subtle matters. I have found it necessary to concentrate on one element at a time whilst getting this book to publication; having a kind of loose deadline for the printing is a useful spur.
I have started to load illustrations for The Midnight Hare on to my scanner at 600dpi, which is the size I use for material to be printed; and blow me down, the scanner resolutely refuses to print out the pale cyan that I have used on several pages in the book, other than in random blotches. In the end I changed the colours, and the illustration on the left is how I will leave it. There are problems working on brown paper with gouache, neocolor and crayon, especially as the paper is supposed to be for pastels. However, the somewhat subdued tones quite please me – I shall have to work out something else for the skies, but at least I have come across the problem now rather than when the book is ready to go to print. Probably quite fortunate that much of the book takes place at night, as pale cyan isn’t much of a night-shade. How spoilt one is, with new technology – times past, one’s work came out in virulent shades, created by expensive machinery; whereas now all I have to do is sit here and fool around with crayons and the computer. Nice.