Editors: Why they are so amazing to work with.

As usual there has been a lot going on over the past few weeks - not only on the work front, but behind the scenes. If I was going to draw things together in a theme I would have to say it’s all about new directions.

So, let’s start with work. I really want to share some insight into one of my current projects, as it really highlights the important role of an editor in the book making process. I also think there is a bit of lesson here for people just starting out, or new to this field.

When I work with a Publishing company on a book project, the Editor is the person that I have my day to day contact with. They are in charge of co-ordinating all of the people who work on the book, along with shaping the look and feel of the final product.

Currently, I am working through some cover artwork ROUGH concepts for a brand new book . Usually this is pretty straight forward. ( I am lucky that my editors have great imaginations to visualise the final product as I realise how ROUGH my roughs usually are! I have seen some stunning roughs that could be framed as works of art, but not mine! Mine are worthy of their ‘ROUGH’ title!)

Anyway, I personally like to send through about 3 different concepts in a rough, sketchy format just to get the ball rolling.

My philosophy on the magic number 3 is that I usually like to do the following:
  •            x1 rough that is exactly what was asked for.
  •            X1 that has a slight variation – usually with more of my own ideas       thrown   in there to tweak things a bit.
  •            x1 that might be more based on my own interpretation of the brief.

This doesn’t always involve x3 totally different roughs. Sometimes it’s just variations on the one idea, but I usually find that this approach leads directly into a clear brief for the final go ahead to colour up the artwork into final art, often using bits and pieces of ideas from all three roughs, and sometimes with a few extra new things added. I usually then go straight into the full colour, final artwork.

However, sometimes the path is not so straight forward.  In this case, my first roughs were a bit too ‘young and cute’ for the target audience. Here’s an example:

I was then sent lots of great visual reference to help guide me in a slightly new direction. This feedback was the outcome of some brainstorming sessions at the Publishing house. This is a great help to me as I sometimes feel that I am working alone and in isolation by working from home.

Such clear and direct feedback helps me to understand HOW to create artwork that will be more appealing to the target audience. I have been working in the ‘younger girls’ market for a while now, so it’s great to get a gentle reminder to push things into an area more suited to an older audience.  I am excited to be challenged in this way. Basic feedback included the need for more ‘attitude’, and a slight ‘sassy’ feel to the characters. I was excited with this feedback as I thought I had been a bit cautious with my initial ideas and was not sure how far to push things.

Here are some of my new ‘sassy’ girls and I was pretty happy with these actually:

These latest sketches were very well received but they have also sparked a brand new way of thinking for this cover artwork -  so it’s back to the drawing board with this one!

 It’s at this stage that I know many artists might get frustrated or take things personally.

I think that sometimes as a creative person, it’s easy to let your ego get in the way of things and to wonder if there’s something wrong with your artwork. But you know what. This happens every now and then with a project. Sometimes what you think you want in a design changes when you see the idea actually drawn up. This is part of the importance of the “roughs” phase of the design process.

 I guess my background in Product Development has helped me to understand that at the end of the day, we are all working towards getting a great product out into the market place that is really going to SELL! And this takes a team effort. I always see it as a great learning opportunity.
Once a book is out in the market place it’s easy to just give credit to the author or illustrator if you don’t really understand all of the work that an editor does to get a book into shape. The Publishing team is full of wonderfully experienced and talented people and I always learn so much from them with each new project.

I am lucky that I have been working with this team for a few years now and I know that they have great respect for me and for my work. This in turn helps me to trust their judgement and to see this as the great learning experience that it really is. I am so lucky to be working with such great people and I wanted to give some credit to the Editor’s role in the process.

So for now, it’s back to the drawing board! I can’t share too much more about this project at this stage, as we are on a tight deadline and the next batch of illustrations are going to have to be good enough to go to colour art as soon as we can, so that’s it for now.

Stay tuned for more NEW DIRECTIONS on the home front soon (no we are not moving house again, and NO I am NOT pregnant!!)

 I have also decided to delay my post about the processes we went through with the Ella Diaries cover artwork, as I hope to use this one as my introduction to a new  ‘guest blogging’ gig coming up shortly.

So thank you to those of you who waded through such a long post! I hope it helped someone out there! ….and now I have a toddler party to plan! Yep. My little baby is turning TWO this week! Busy, busy….x


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