Writing, illustrating, and publishing a children’s book is no child’s play! Little did my wife and I know that creating a children’s book would take us well over 2 years to complete.
The book is entitled “A Day at the Beach” and is the first book in our new children’s book series The Fox Family Adventures. It is ultimately a story that teaches kids the importance of forgiveness and friendship.
However, we would like to share with you the story behind the book. If you have ever been curious about what the process of taking an idea from concept to completion is like or if you are wanting to write a children’s book of your own one day … read on.
It starts with inspiration
Let’s rewind the clocks to early 2018, to just after the birth of our daughter.
As any parent knows, the birth of your first child can stir up all kinds of feelings and emotions. For us, and particularly for my wife, it stirred up feelings of inspiration. She decided early on that she wanted to write and dedicate a children’s book to our daughter.
So, that is just what we did. Despite still healing from birth and wrestling with sleepless nights, she managed to write the story that eventually became “A Day at the Beach”.
It then became my job to take that story and build it into an actual book. There was certainly a lot to learn! From creating artwork, figuring out book dimensions, page layouts, overlaying text, and becoming familiar with all of the little things that go into an illustrated book that go unnoticed.
From concept to completion
STEP 1: Rough drafts and rough sketches. One of the first things I started to do is layout what each page was going to look like. That required tinkering with tools such as SketchBook and Photoshop so I could start putting together rough concepts so I could better visualize what the final book would look like.
The picture on the left is a rough sketch I drew in June 2018 to get an idea of how to layout the page.
The picture on the right is what that same page looks in the final book (illustration by Chris Cervantes). What a difference 2 years can make!
Hiring an illustrator
STEP 2: Artwork. Hiring an illustrator was one of the best decisions we made early on. Originally, I was going to do my best to do the illustrations for our book, but I soon discovered that my illustrations weren’t very good.
I think after looking over a couple of my early sketches compared to the hand painted illustrations we received from our far more artistic friend, we made the right choice.
We ultimately hired Chris Cervantes to do all of the illustrations for our book. He certainly has much more skill and experience drawing illustrations then me, that’s for sure. In fact, he even had his own comic strip in a newspaper for a few years called “The Rambunctious Ramboy”.
Below was his first piece of concept art of Ben Fox building his sandcastle on the beach. He pretty much nailed the style right out of the gate.
He was kind enough to do all of the illustrations for our book for a really reasonable price too. As you can see from the finished version of our book, he is a much better artist than I am!
If you ever need illustrations or digital art, he is a great resource. Below is his Instagram profile if you’d like to check out some of his artwork or would like to contact him.
Mistakes we made along the way
STEP 3: Layout and design. Little did we know that the really hard part had yet to come. One of the mistakes we made was not knowing the page dimensions of the book prior to having the illustrations done.
That meant that all of our illustrations we’re now the wrong size. This meant I had to get creative and figure out how to fit a round peg into a square shaped hole.
So, if you ever plan on publishing a children’s book, here is a huge time saving tip … first decide on what size your final book is going to be and where you want to lay out the text BEFORE you have your illustrations made. Seems obvious now, but you know, you live and you learn!
Below you can see what it looks like taking a scan from a hand painted illustration, putting it into Photoshop, and then adding the text on top of the page.
If you’d like to learn more about this step or would like some tips on how to make this part go by quicker, just let me know and I’d be happy to help you out.
Step 4: Publish your book. I know I said that design and layout was the hardest part, but this comes in a close second. This was truly a difficult task since neither my wife or I have had any previous experience with this part.
Fortunately, my mom, Julie Gorges, has had plenty of experience with publishing books. She’s authored books such as Just Call Me Goody-Two-Shoes, Time to Cast Away, Residential Steel Design and Construction, I’m Your Daughter, Julie, and Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50. Some of these were published by big publishers like McGraw-Hill, while others she self-published.
Suffice to say, I am forever grateful for her help. With that said, if you are interested in self-publishing a book, there are a plethora of online resources that can help you understand how to go through the process step-by-step with programs such as Kindle Direct Publishing or IngramSpark.
The final product
STEP 5: Receive your first review copy. This is by far the most exciting part! The moment that you have been working so hard towards. The moment when you can literally see your ideas and years of creative work made into a physical object that you can hold in your hand.
Honestly though, it’s the fact that we can now take this book that we had originally created for our daughter and share it with you.
TOOLS we used for the book
Inspired by and dedicated to our precious daughter, our greatest adventure.