I have taken a small pause in writing my novel for the time being. I am actually working on finishing another project that has been sidelined because of my lack of an illustrator. I am attempting to write a children’s book. It’s not a chapter book for young readers; rather it’s more reminiscent of easy reader books such as Where the Wild Things Are with the rhyming scheme of There’s a Wocket in My Pocket. If you’re familiar with the writing in either of these books, you realize the necessity of an illustrator. Creating characters and stories in my head is an easy feat for me, but I can’t seem to translate that same effort over to drawing. However, in a market that looks as promising as children’s books, I feel the need to give my book another try.
Technically nothing has changed since my last attempt at my children’s book. I am still without an illustrator or the capacity to draw from my head. Fortunately my wife is an art major and together we feel as though we can accomplish a children’s book. After hours of drawing and toiling over the concepts of the main character we have finally come up with a face and an outfit. It was nowhere near as easy as we thought it was going to be. There has to be a great amount of dedication and a good span of time that needs to be set aside to accomplish a task as seemingly simple as character development. I have been practicing drawing the character in motion at every chance, but I still don’t think my art is entirely up to snuff. It’s very time consuming to both write and illustrate a book, not to mention work and go to school, but I’m proof that it’s not impossible. Make the time you need, and if you can get someone to help, all the better. Sometimes we can’t make it all on our own, and if there is someone who is genuinely invested in you, then at least be open to the option of a partner.
I think that we have a good start with the story that I’ve written. However since it isn’t an animation, it makes choosing the actions in each panel much more pivotal. It’s paramount that you match the words with not only the expression of the characters, but also make each action clear so that the reader can infer the intent of the character. If the picture is even a little bit off, it’s almost like watching an old black and white movie where the film track isn’t in sync with the sound. The pictures can’t all be posed or else the story loses forward momentum and quickly gets boring. For a children’s book that almost always means certain death.
When catering to a specific demographic (in this case children) you need to take into account more than just story and art. Inking can be a big selling point especially when dealing with children. Kids tend to lean more towards bold and garish colors when being left to pick their own books. Lots of people use different styles of art in order to make their books stand out in a sea of extraordinary colors and pictures. Some of the more interesting art choices I’ve noticed are watercolors and gold leaf in order to make the colors more prominent and original. I’ve also noticed that brazen geometric shapes have been in more of the popular children’s books like No David.
If you have a great story but not great art it’s still possible to make a great children’s book (case in point The Giving Tree). However pictures are a big seller even for books that are predominantly weighted towards the story,like Fortunately the Milk. Kid’s stories are great and make the opportunity for sequels much more attainable than with a full novel. So get cracking on your kids’ books, they’re a fun time waiting to happen.