Mission Accomplished: My Self Publishing Journey – Part Two

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So now you know why I wrote and published “Jellybeans Morning, Noon & Night” (see Mission Accomplished: My Self Publishing Journey – Part One). Now here’s a little bit of background on how I went about making my “brilliant plan” happen (insert maniacal laugh here).

It started with an idea of course. The idea turned into a story. Sounds “simple” right? I’ve always enjoyed writing and telling stories and in my professional marketing career, creative writing was part of my daily job and I was good at it (at least that’s what they told me). I thought, “Publishing a book – I could do this.” It is a brilliant plan, isn’t it?

Well, looking back now, the description “simple” would not exactly be how I would describe the process of publishing a book (I know, I know … anyone could have told me that). I have to say that the biggest lesson I learned in self publishing my children’s book, “Jellybeans Morning, Noon & Night,” was that writing the story was the easiest part (for me anyway).

After writing the story, which was about 8 pages typed in length (remember it’s a children’s book), it needed to be edited. I don’t just mean correcting any grammar mistakes, I mean editing the story down in length. Having worked in publishing, I luckily had a friend who agreed to do this for me. Without her (and the help of the illustrator), parents all over the world would be skipping page after page as they read my story to their kids. “And they lived happily ever after … the end.” (You know you’ve done it before. I know I have. You can admit it).

Editing the story down to fit on 25 scenes (spreads) was quite a grueling process at first. I thought that the illustrator would just find a way to make ALL my words fit onto her illustrated pages. In reality, I had to find a way to make my words fit on her illustrated page using a lot fewer characters than I had planned. It required re-working and re-editing the manuscript, quite frankly too many times I care to remember (I try to block those memories out).

At the end of the torturing, I mean editing process … when all of the red pencil marks, the back and forth, the debating on what to keep or the arguing about which way sounds better FINALLY stopped, what I had left was still MY story – just better (and shorter). Even more importantly, I learned a lot about the process of writing and editing a children’s book, which is helping me as I venture to publish my second (Follow the progress of that experience at ElfUnderCover.com).

From Idea to Illustration: An Unexpected Journey

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BEFORE AND AFTER - 1

I want to share some of the amazing before and after photos of the book, “Jellybeans Morning, Noon & Night.”

To help provide my illustrator with some direction for the illustrations in the story, I spent an afternoon taking pictures of my kids acting out each of the scenes in the book. Given this was my first book and most importantly a gift to my children, I also wanted the characters in the book illustrated in the likeness of my kids. So this helped provide the illustrator with a guide to follow when creating the characters in the book.

Above and below are some before and after images. To the left is an actual photo of my kids that I Photoshop’d with a pencil sketch filter and to the right is what the illustrator turned the photo into.

BEFORE & AFTER - 2

Now this was one the most unexpected lessons learned along this book publishing journey – illustration!  I naively thought that the illustrator would just draw the scene, scan it into the computer, add my words and the page would be done. WRONG! So so wrong.
Every illustrator is different, but with technology these days an illustrator can do so many things with Photoshop layers.  Some pages in “Jellybeans Morning, Noon & Night” are made up of over 100 layers. The layers on many pages added depth to the scene or gave me the flexibility to change something if I didn’t like it, without having to re-draw the entire page. (Like I said – I was very naive).

Looking at the before and after images now just makes this journey all the more worthwhile. Look at how far this “idea,” this silly “story,” has come – from and idea to an AMAZING illustration.

Mission Accomplished: My Self Publishing Journey – Part One

Books Arrived

First Print RunIn 2005 while my husband was deployed in Iraq, I came up with this silly story about a boy and his love for jellybeans. Several years and another son later, I finally decided to turn this story into a full fledged book.

When my husband first got home, I thought that we would just forget that we were ever apart and start back up right where we left off. I was wrong. Being apart changed us. There isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t think about that time.

What I came to realize was that (in our experience) it changed us for the better. Don’t misunderstand, the time that my husband spent on deployment was very stressful for all of us, but it made us stronger as a family. That time is not something we should forget, but remember and appreciate.

I guess coming to this realization is what finally motivated me to publish this book … to celebrate that time we spent apart (if that makes any sense whatsoever). Having worked in publishing for more than 12 years also helped give me that extra confidence boost to start this journey to publish this children’s book myself.

It was my main goal to accomplish this as a gift for my husband, kids, family and friends. Anything else would be icing on the cake.
Mission Accomplished!

Book Trailer: Jellybeans Morning, Noon & Night

“Jellybeans Morning, Noon and Night,” is about two brothers who share a love of jellybeans! No matter what the flavor, those boys just love jellybeans—all of them. If they had it their way, they would eat jellybeans for breakfast, jellybeans for lunch, and jellybeans for dinner. And that’s exactly what they plan to do! It is a brilliant plan, isn’t it?

Written by Maggie Pajak and illustrated by Marni Backer, “Jellybeans Morning Noon & Night” is a delicious story filled with a sweet lesson of moderation and a savory message to parents to let your kids (sometimes) figure things out on their own. But more importantly – it is sprinkled with a few giggle-filled moments that both you and your kids will enjoy.

Jellybeans Morning, Noon & Night

Cover

Jellybeans Morning, Noon and Night,” is about two brothers who share a love of jellybeans! No matter what the flavor, those boys just love jellybeans—all of them. If they had it their way, they would eat jellybeans for breakfast, jellybeans for lunch, and jellybeans for dinner. And that’s exactly what they plan to do! It is a brilliant plan, isn’t it?

Written by Maggie Pajak and illustrated by Marni Backer, “Jellybeans Morning Noon & Night” is a delicious story filled with a sweet lesson of moderation and a savory message to parents to let your kids (sometimes) figure things out on their own. But more importantly – it is sprinkled with a few giggle-filled moments that both you and your kids will enjoy.

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