Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CRASH TEST DUMMY

So, my illustrator partner-in-crime delivered the pdf book "dummy" for PB PROJECT X. I must say, it's awesome. I can't believe the visual puzzle that was constructed. Such amazing talent!

Studying the text with the illustrations has got me wondering, though, if I still need to make a few tweaks to improve the story.

My agent called and said she loved the art. However, she wants to print the dummy and cut it out, paste it together and turn the pages to really get the feel of the book and how it functions. She says after she does this she'll call me to discuss it.

Wow. I can't believe what an undertaking this has been. I've been working on this manuscript feverishly since January - nine months, and yet it still isn't "born." In fact, I wrote the original manuscript a year or so prior to that, smiled at the strangeness of the idea and put it away. Then I found it again while cleaning up some files and started to work on it anew. It went from about 750 words to 211 over the next several months, and finally left the traditional manuscript form and became a table with illustration notes and sparse text.

Part of the reason for continuing to work so long on this is that my agent simply has not deemed it ready to be shopped around. She loved the very first version but has never quite felt it was ready. 28 versions after the first she was shown, I enlisted an illustrator.

If this machine ever takes flight it will have hopefully earned its wings.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

PB PROJECT X - The Concept Art Arrived (No peeking yet)

So, my secret and gifted illustrator forwarded me some concept art for PB PROJECT X. Amaaaaaazing! It's so refreshing to have the ability to work together with the artist in the early stages.

Tomorrow I'll get to see a pdf dummy of the book in sketches, a finished spread, and a page of thumbnails. Yippeee! Then I'll forward all the art to my agent for her input. From what I've seen so far, I think she'll be very pleased...and hopefully as excited as I am. Of course, she tends to be guarded. She's suspicious of this market and what editors will acquire. But she actually agreed that getting this laid out visually would help demonstrate how the book would work.

Will editors shun the project because I've taken away their choice of an illustrator (definitely a fun privilege, as I'm learning)? I have no idea.

I'm also not sure how we'll decide who to pitch this to. The illustrator's prior editors? Mine? Several at once and see who bites? This is where my agent and the illustrator's rep will have to guide us.

Maybe I'll give you a glimpse of art in my next post.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Shhhhh...... PB PROJECT X

In this crazy world where picture books are often unappreciated, floating around in a dismal market of suspicious, pessimistic buyers, an author must get a little creative in shopping new manuscripts to editors.

And so…I have been working on an underground scheme to construct a picture book that is hopefully different, innovative, and, well, fun.

I am breaking the rules with this book. At least you could say I’m breaking away from my own tendencies and testing new waters. For the purposes of this blog, I will call this undertaking….drumroll please… PB PROJECT X.

PB PROJECT X will not rhyme, as my other books do. Nothing wrong with rhyme, but I’m throwing away my comfortable and worn old slippers. The text is sparse. The illustration notes are complex. Sigh. It’s cold, standing on the tile barefoot. But it’s a little exhilarating, too.

PB PROJECT X has a strange layout. I’ve written the manuscript in table format like a flattened-out rubix cube. And this time I’ve approached an illustrator first. Yes, did you read that right? I PICKED AN ILLUSTRATOR MYSELF—which is about as rebellious as a picture book author can be, considering my last name isn’t Berenstein or Beuhner. I’m not married to my illustrator, and I’ve never been allowed much say in the choice of an illustrator before. I know, I know, I’m a rebel. I’ve told all my students never to do this. Let the publisher pick the illustrator, I’ve said. But I decided to collaborate so that I can properly demonstrate how this unusual creature-of-a-book will function. My secret and highly-skilled illustrator, no stranger to the picture book world, is already on board and PB PROJECT X is secretly underway.

Stay tuned. On Tuesday I will see the first thumbnails of the book and a dummy to show the page turns. Plus a finished spread. This is as exciting as cutting class in high school with a bunch of friends. Perhaps my rule-breaking will not result in success, but in the moment I don’t care. I’m willing to ride this and see where it goes. My hope is that PB PROJECT X will eventually find an editor who sees some potential in it.

I'll let you know what happens...the good, the bad, the exciting, or even the horribly disappointing.

Taking risks. Breaking rules. Cold toes.

More to follow.