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November's Special Edition

A very special edition - How No More Monkeys was made!


As previously promised, November’s newsletter is a special insight into the creation of No More Monkey’s Jumping on the Bed (and other things the doctor NEVER said) written by Rudi Gesch and illustrated by me.

How it All Started


I connected with Rudi through word of mouth. It turns out Rudi is the nephew of my mom’s college roommate!


Sometimes you can do hours and hour of marketing, only to find that your next project comes through your mom’s lifelong friendships. I absolutely love it.


The Manuscript & The Concept


After the initial meeting and deciding to collaborate on this book, Rudi and I looked through the manuscript together. We broke up the pages based on what we thought would create the best flow- visually and verbally.


The Characters


Once we got the words sectioned off, we started discussing the visual direction of the book, which included colour palettes, the age and connection between the kids, the characteristics of the parents, and so on!


Nailing down the characters turned out to be one of the most time consuming processes because of the sheer amount of characters! Yes, there are only 5 children, 2 parents, and 1 Dr. Grey. But, considering each child has 5 animal variations (monkey, kangaroo, frog, bunny, and dolphin!) that’s 28 “main” characters! Phew.


Morphing each child into these animal likenesses was very fun. Some were easier than others- the dolphins and the kangaroos were the most challenging by far!


Inspiration for a few of the characters came from Rudi’s own kids!


Thumbnails


Once the characters were set, I moved into creating the thumbnails for each page. I had to keep in mind the pace of the story, starting slowly and progressively speeding things up visually- mainly the emotions of the parents and activities of the children.


Expressing Big Moments


We decided that the phrase “NO MORE … JUMPING ON …” needed its own spread for maximum effect. This turned out to be a great idea as it encouraged kids to really get into the spirit of the book and yell the line out! (Parents, consider this before reading this book in a library)


Refining Ideas and Adding Layers


The more I refined the thumbnails, the more Rudi and I were able to add more complex visual layers to the story.


We decided to foreshadow each new scene by showing a portion of it in the previous scene. For example, you can see the sofa in the monkey’s scene , because that’s where the kangaroos will be jumping next! We carried this concept throughout the book.


We also ramped up the visible annoyance on the parent’s faces as the story progressed. With each passing page, the parents seem to be losing their cool more and more.

And finally, when the parents “call the doctor” throughout the story they are not actually talking to a doctor. The parents are using banana’s, boomerangs, flowers, carrots, and flip flops as phones, which we all know won’t connect them with a doctor.


At the end the parents ACTUALLY call Dr. Grey and get some pretty shocking news!


Fine Tuning


After all the planning, arranging, and visual layering was done, it was time to add colour and polish the illustrations!


Adding the colours was a laid back process for me as the colour palette and characters had already been decided. All I did was add life to the backgrounds which the characters are already in!


This stage is always so rewarding and exciting because it’s really the first time we get to see a glimpse of what people will see when they buy and read the book.


Cover Design


After all the interior pages were filled with colour, we worked on the cover design!


There were many ideas and sketches- the one thing we both really wanted to emphasise was the title! Everything else we simply fit around the edges to give a glimpse of the characters and their cheekiness.



The Hype on Social Media


Throughout this process, Rudi was building a social following on instagram and facebook.


There are few things in this book-making process more important than building up a following and curating a fan base which is interested in buying the book being produced!


I heard someone say once, “You can produce the most beautiful book in the history of book-making, BUT if nobody knows about it, it won’t sell.”


That sentiment really impacted me, as I usually attribute the success of a book to the story and illustrations inside! Yes the story and pictures need to be good, but the visibility of the book is VERY important.

The Handover


I’ve done the printing and Amazon upload portion of book making for clients in the past, but this time I handed my illustrations over to Amazon professionals. It’s always a bit nervy handing work over to people you don’t know, but it all worked out. The feedback I’ve seen about the physical book has been incredible!


If you’re interested in buying your very own copy (or giving one away for Christmas) you can find the book here: https://nomoremonkeysbook.com/


The End


If you have a children’s book in mind and are looking for an illustrator, feel free to reach out! Or if you’re an author or illustrator who’s just interested in the picture book-making process, my inbox is open if you ever want to chat.


I hope you all have a lovely week!


With love,

Bekah

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