How I Work with Children’s Picture Book Authors

Just like I am not an illustrator, neither is an illustrator a production artist. Instead, the illustrator, the editor, and the production artist (that's me!) all work in tandem to arrive at the best end product.

Creating a picture book (or any product) for children should not be taken lightly. I believe the children are our future and that we should indeed teach them WELL. We want to teach them art appreciation, storytelling principles, rhythm through rhyming, vocabulary, sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation.

Book Design for Ponies in the Park by Mary Pat Kanaley, Children's Genre
"Ponies in the Park" won the 2021 Spokane Art Grant Award (Spokane, Washington) with the contingency that Mary Pat Kanaley had to be the illustrator. Mary Pat is a watercolor artist who had never digitized her work before. I coached her through the process, and we worked tirelessly to make this a book worthy of the SAGA.

Additionally, a picture book follows a very specific set of standards, and it requires a team effort to get it right. Just like I am not an illustrator, neither is an illustrator a production artist. Instead, the illustrator, the editor, and the production artist (that’s me!) all work in tandem to arrive at the best end product. 

My clients invest $3000-$5000 in an illustrator, $250-$1000 in a qualified and vetted children’s book editor, and $2500 for my children’s book service bundle (publishing consultant, project manager, and production artist). And if they want to provide a premium tactile experience for the children, they also invest $2500 – $6500 in printing jacketed case-laminate books that any bookstore would be proud to carry. Watch a video review of the offset printed, jacketed case-laminate version of “Ponies in the Park.”

As the production artist and project manager, I will:

  • help you select an illustrator (this includes interviewing the illustrator via Zoom if it’s someone I haven’t worked with before)
  • help you select an editor who specializes in children’s books
  • provide technical specs for your illustrator
  • give feedback on sample sketches, character development, color palette, and storyboarding
  • coordinate with your illustrator and editor as needed
  • work with the illustrator to lock-in the cover concept
  • complete the title treatment
  • add any text and final embellishments needed (barcode, spine text, back cover text)
  • typeset the interior
  • complete the front and back matter pages (title page, copyright, dedication, about the author, about the illustrator, etc),
  • generate print-ready files for the platform you are utilizing (offset, short-run, and/or POD)
  • upload the cover and interior files for print to the printer of your choice
  • create 3 promotional graphics
  • create 3 mockups
  • manage all of the files using Dropbox
  • educate you as we move through the publishing process so you have the information required in order to make the best decisions for your project
Mary Pat Kanaley
Mary Pat KanaleyWatercolor Artist
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My partner and I made the most fortuitous decision to hire Melinda to be our guide. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!  Melinda not only helped design and layout our book in spectacular fashion, but she helped us every step of the way.  She made suggestions regarding formatting, advised on how to best execute the watercolor paintings for print, and helped find an editor that fit our style of book. More than that, she was the most patient teacher and never made us feel awkward or hesitant to ask a question. She was quick and clear with responses, often sharing videos for us “visual” learners.  I will definitely recommend her to all of my friends who are writers and illustrators.

From start to finish, authors should expect this entire process (excluding bulk printing) to take 3 – 5 months, with the majority of that dedicated to your illustrator’s timeline.

I love to work on books illustrated in a classic art style and books with a serious subject matter. “Natalie and the Nazi Soldiers” is a book I am currently working on with author Annette Gendler and illustrator Ste Johnson. It’s based on the true story of Annette’s mother-in-law who evaded capture by the Nazis.

Find out how I work with
savvy authors like you.

Please note that In most cases, I am not available to work on projects that have already had illustrations completed. The illustrator and I work in tandem to create a beautiful book, and if the illustrator did not follow professional processes (as can often be the case when the author hires them on their own), it adds a layer (or two!) of difficulty to the project. You are still welcome to schedule a fit call and I can assess what I’ve got to work with.

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