A Long Journey- publishing my debut book

I had no idea how much much work it would be publishing my first book in the X-tails series.

If you remember back to my 3rd blog, I had two awesome illustrations for the X-tails, thanks to the help of Dragonpencil and Victor Guiza.  With these two illustrations, I planned to provide a better understanding of my stories to literary agents.  It was February of 2013.  For whatever reason, I was compelled to take another look at the Dragonpencil website.  I knew that Dragonpencil offered self-publishing packages, but when I looked at their website again, the self-publishing route caught my attention, and I couldn’t let the idea go!

I weighed the pros and cons of self-publishing with my wife, Corrie.  After much deliberation and in full understanding of the risk, we decided to go for it!  I had no idea I was about to kiss my little speck of spare time goodbye.  I was naïve to the huge amount of work involved and the many steps required to self-publish a book.

Choosing which story to publish was one of my toughest decisions.  I strongly believed that all six of my manuscripts were fun and exciting, and each one had an important message to tell.  Again, after much discussion with Corrie, we decided to publish the snowboard story starring Pride the Elephant.  I picked that story because it met my first and foremost writing goal of being FUN.  It would be a book that children want to read because of the high-speed action and laugh-out-loud humour.  The bonus is the terrific messages that are written into the story.  Besides promoting safety and being active, the story focuses on believing in yourself, understanding we are ALL special in our own way, and never giving up on your dreams.  With such important messages for children, The X-tails Snowboard at Shred Park was a perfect choice for my debut book.

After buying the self-publishing package from Dragonpencil, there was no turning back!  Now, I needed to ensure my manuscript was perfect.  I was fortunate editbecause friends and family were willing to read my story and provide critical feedback.  After receiving valuable feedback, I made a few more changes.  I then had it edited by an editor.  The result was a polished manuscript. Page layout

The next step was the page layout.  This part of the process involves breaking apart the story into individual scenes, where each scene will represent an illustrated page.  I was ahead of the game because I had already completed that step….or so  I thought.  What I didn’t realize is sixty words per page is typically the upper limit for an illustrated children’s book―and I had way more than that!  My project manager, Margaret Cogswell, helped to revise the layout.  Margaret did a great job of managing the overall project and maintaining momentum.  Even though the number of pages increased in my book, the result was a captivating manuscript with exciting illustrations on every page.

The page layout was then handed over to Victor Guiza for illustrations.  With my book having 43 illustrations, Vic’s role in the publishing process would be the most timeFlight all alone consuming.  As you most likely have seen by now, Vic is a brilliant artist!  You can see that Vic has a real gift for grasping the personality of each character, and his detail is amazing.  What you don’t know is Vic has never snowboarded a day in his life.  Vic took on the challenge, and with a little guidance from me on the technical side of snowboarding, he did an unbelievable job!

It took less than three months for Vic to finalize the illustrations.  It is impossible for me to know the intThe X-tails Snowboard at Shred Parkricacies of illustrating a book, but I can certainly appreciate the work involved.  The first part of the process I see is the illustrations in pencil.  At that point, I try to identify any and all changes.  Making changes later when the illustrations are in color is much more difficult.  Vic was always very receptive to my feedback, and made any necessary revisions.  Next, color is added to the illustrations.  Because this book has 43 detailed illustrations with that “real life” feel, it was inevitable there would be some revisions to the color illustrations.  Requesting changes was the hardest part for me, especially knowing the amount of time and effort Vic puts into each illustration.  Through it all, Vic always had the best attitude, and we ended up with mind-blowing illustrations!  I couldn’t be happier!

One of the last steps was the book design.  Margaret, my project manager, informed me that Kenny DeWitt would be handling the book design.  I didn’t know anything about Kenny, so I inquired with Margaret about his experience.  I could tell she was a little amused by my concern, and reassured me that Kenny had lots of experience.  I didn’t have too many expectations, other than knowing the font would be finalized, the cover page designed, and text added to the illustrations.  I was in for a shock!

Kenny provided me with three choices of font.  I made my decisioThe X-tails Snowboard at Shred Parkn, and a few days later, I was sent a draft copy of the book design.  I quickly scrolled through the book and my jaw dropped.  The text was fun and lively!  Words were full of color and seemed to jump off the page!  I had read lots of children’s books, but I had never seen anything like this.  Now that I knew what Kenny could do, my mind reeled.  I requested some additional graphics and Kenny presented another draft copy, which was even better!  Kenny continued to impress with more graphics, an amazing cover page, and taking his creativity to another level with the visuals in the Trick-tionary!

With the completion of this blog, we arrive at present day.  It hasn’t sunk in yet, but in just a few weeks, The X-tails Snowboard at Shred Park will be released as an eBook and printed book!  I have been blessed to work with such great people on this project, and I am very proud of the book.  I can’t wait to see children’s reactions!  My focus now switches from publishing to spreading the word about the X-tails.  I have big plans for these six zany characters, and it is my dream to grow the X-tails into a household name.  We can all dream, right?  Stay tuned…..

– L.A. Fielding