Complete Picture Book Dummy


I completed my picture book dummy (YAY!) and put it up on my portfolio.  Here’s the link:

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Click to View


5 responses »

  1. I have a question. Your book seems very finished to me. When I do dummies I do them very rough, I don’t want my (self publishing) clients falling in love with one page in the dummy before I’ve taken the time to give each page my total attention.

    Since you are the author of your book as well as illustrator, I guess you don’t have this problem. Is this dummy something you would show a agent or a publisher, to sell the book as is, or your illustrations or both? Are the illustrations finished (as they look to me) or will you also have finished illustrations along with the dummy? Thanks for sharing.

    • Some of them are finished illustrations. Most of them aren’t quite finished. The lines are, for the most part. But not the colors and shading.

      My process was that I drew out a storyboard on paper with very rough sketches for each page. Almost visual notes rather than anything resembling what would actually be in the image. Then I opened up Illustrator and started drawing digitally. Most of the spreads are actually the first version after the storyboard. The reason I did it that way instead of doing these images as sketches is that it’s just as easy for me to draw in Illustrator as it would be on paper and, if I sell it or decide to finish it on my own, I can just finish off these files rather than starting new documents based on the pencil sketches. It didn’t take me any longer this way and will save me time in the long run if I end up finishing it.

      I don’t really know if I’ll try to sell this to a publisher or not. I already self-published a poorly illustrated version a few years ago, so I’m not sure if they’ll be interested. It might be used goods now, even with the new illustrations. What it is, however, is a portfolio piece proving that I can do a picture book length project, I can draw the characters consistently throughout, and that the images (at least the finished ones) are of professional quality.

      See, before I had a picture book with illustrations that I was actually ashamed of. I wanted to point to the book as something I’d done, but not with THOSE illustrations. So, now I have a dummy I can be proud to show off. Whether I ultimately sell it or not.

      I probably will send it out to agents and publishers, but more as a sample than something I actually expect to sell. Although, if they are interested, I’d be happy to sell it. 🙂 I’ll likely print it in some black and white format because it’s cheaper that way and include color print-outs of one or two of the finished spreads as examples of what the finished work would look like.

      I’m actually not entirely sure how this all works because I’ve never done a dummy before. I’m hoping it helps, but if not, at least it’s a good portfolio piece.

      You mentioned working with self-publishing authors. How do you handle that? The ones that have contacted me so far have been first-time authors who don’t always understand what is involved in illustrating a whole book and don’t have a realistic idea of how many they’re actually likely to sell through self-publishing.

      • Most of the self publishing authors I have worked with have published before. They were unsatisfied with their previous illustrations and are aware that they will have to pay more for better results. I have a few first-time self publishing authors, who are shocked when they hear how much illustrations are going to cost, but after thinking it over, decide they still need to make the big step. I do a lot of educating, so they know how much time and effort is involved.

        Since I do not work for royalties, I really don’t worry how many books they sell. I know most illustrators say you must get royalties. Frankly, I have no way of knowing accurately how many books they sell and what profit they make. I ask enough for my work, so I know I am covered for my time. Mostly I enjoy working directly with children’s book authors. Their main problem is not moving quickly enough for my schedule.

        I ask for one third of the payment to begin, one third after pencils are finished (before color) and one third when I turn over the finished digital files to their printer/publisher. How I figure out the total amount is a very complicated process for me. It’s sometimes hard to know how complicated a book will be until the dummy is made. If an author says there will be 16 single page illustrations and it turns out to be 14 spreads, two singles plus the cover and back cover, I make adjustments in the total amount and divide the last two payment accordingly.

        I have a background in graphic design and art direction, so I also can design the book, do any custom lettering and prepare the book for print in Adobe InDesign. Self publishing authors find this a huge benefit.

        I enjoy what I do. Would I like working for a traditional publisher? I don’t know, maybe someday when I have a really good portfolio put together, I will finally make the effort to contact them.

        I like hearing how other illustrators work, and their thought process about their careers. Thanks for continuing this conversation. I wish other illustrators would also comment.

  2. Karen, this is darling! You must have a lot of first hand knowledge of the procedure. I think kids will love it. My granddaughter 6 is very interested in all things “baby” (that’s anything prior to last year for her) Are you taking this to L.A.?


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