How to Make a Children’s Book

It’s been a year and a half since The Sun Dance was printed and published. I am a normal person who didn’t study how to make books, draw, or write. I just had a story to share like we all do. Making a book was a wonderful endeavor and I am so happy to have it as a relic of my life. If anything, my great-great grandchildren will have something special from me.  Here are some tips from how I made my children’s book.

–You are the engine. Your will, determination, and interest in the project is the only thing that will complete the book. Your the generator, the petrol, the waterwheel that’s going to get this book finished. Without your motivation, the project will go no where. There won’t be anything else that’s going to write or draw the book, just you! 🙂

–When it’s just you, you don’t need anything fancy. No amount of art supplies or computer programs are going to finish this story. Remember, it’s you.

I drew The Sun Dance on notepad paper that cost me $1 per notepad. It was the thinnest paper ever, but I had copious amounts and was never scared to draft or sketch out ideas. A more embarrassing fact is that I took pictures of each image using a digital camera and edited them using Google’s Picasa, a weak editing tool where I had very little control but I made it work. In a graphic designer’s words, “I got lucky.” No child or parents or person has told me the images look bad.

how to make a book 2
A page edited out of the final draft

–When it’s just you in your workspace, you have control. Make decisions, go with what you decide, trust yourself with these decisions, edit when needed, and keep on going. Don’t get bogged down on a problem. Solve it then or the next day. If you leave the project for too long, who knows how long it’s going to sit there.

–Build momentum and ride the wave. This goes with not letting your project sit. Work everyday on the project, be consistent and disciplined. Intertwine your interest and time to dedicate to this project, your story.

–This project is your story. It’s you. Draw how you want to, write what you care about, and pour you into the story like you are turning yourself inside out and putting it down on paper, drawing the details of your spirit. I didn’t realize how important this was until it happened to me.

– I was working on a children’s story before The Sun Dance. It had been close to a year and half. I went through draft after draft and my illustrations ended up getting worse! The written story was perfect, but I was not the perfect person to illustrate the story. I was getting frustrated. While doodling on a trip with friends, some of them yelled at me, “I want to see a children’s book in that! The book you’re working on now is cool and all, but I want to see that!”

That night I went home, drew an illustration from a poem I had been flirting with to turn into a story. I could use whatever forms I wanted with any color I chose. That was the first night of The Sun Dance. It was made, printed and published in a year’s time.

–Your story ends. At some point, you’re done. Mentally finished, the book’s everything you dreamed of. You could edit and edit, and change the story forever, but you’re done. The project’s complete, and you made it happen.

For those of you with dreams to make a book of your own, do it! Then tell me. I’d love to read it.

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