We’re often asked how our books come together, where do the ideas come from and how do we find the authors and artists?

The ideas are the easy part; working out how to execute them is the challenge! Every new project is an idea in need of words and illustrations. We work separately with authors and artists, first drafting texts and then looking for the best person to illustrate them.

Finding an Illustrator

When we find great text for a Barefoot Book, we usually go out to at least two illustrators to give them a brief saying what age group the book is intended for and what kind of “look and feel” we want. Then we send them specifications for the book (page size and page extent) and ask them to send us their ideas as black-and-white sketches. We compare the two and if we like one or both, the next step is to request color samples.

Receiving the Color Samples

When the color samples come in, everyone has a look at them and at the manuscript and we decide whether we are on track. Sometimes we are on track, but other times we can see that the illustrator has the right qualities but needs to make some changes: maybe some of the characters don’t look quite right, maybe the composition is a little unbalanced, maybe the color palette is not quite what we are looking for.

The Length of the Process

Finding the right illustrator is a critical part of making our books. We sometimes spend years looking for the right person! The illustration process itself can also take anywhere from a few months to over a year, depending on the length of the book and the illustrator’s technique.

Creating the Book

After the color samples have been approved, it’s time for the illustrator to create the rest of the illustrations. Some illustrators are happy to work out their own page layouts (the positioning of the text on the page relative to the illustrations,) but others prefer to receive page layouts from us with the text in position. To create the page layouts, we work with graphic designers, looking at different font options for the text and establishing how to give the book the right rhythm. This varies a lot from one project to the next — books with long texts are the most challenging, but we always find ways to make the illustrations and text work together!

Do you have ideas for a book project we  should try? Please let us know in the comments.

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