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…
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.
Moving on to a new stage of the book, and think I will put this cover design in as the first entry in the new Moonwuzo Books website. I have been poring over a book of cover designs and notice that many of the most striking ones have lettering that looks as if it has been hand-written – noticing that, I now feel that something more dynamic is called for here, maybe with a forward slant to mirror the movement across the sky. But the colour of the lettering and the spine I like. It would be more logical to have deep blue for the night time, but I just relish the red, there is a kind of joy in it. For pre-publication purposes, I need to get this cover done within the next couple of weeks; so it will back out to my studio, aka the Tardis, up in the vegetable garden, where I will try and find a way of jazzing up this lettering.
Many times I have been involved with setting up illustrated books, sending the work off to publishers in London, though lately working with the local publisher Serafina Press I have done the scans myself. But somehow, with this story, I seem to have a different attitude. Maybe it is because it is totally a one-man band project. I am very lucky in that not that far away in Spittal, Berwick upon Tweed, are some brilliant book printers who will help me through the tangle.