Ten Steps to Crafting A Picture Book
The step by step process I used to create and publish a nonfiction photo-illustrated picture book for Amazon Kindle using PowerPoint.
1. Words. Write the words first. After slogging through various processes to create a kids’ book series, for me, it all begins with the words. Picture books are typically 1000 words or less, and have a solid beginning, middle and end. Edit your story until every word is an absolute essential jewel. Involve you critique group and BETA readers in this process. The owner of the animals featured in my books became the editor to ensure accuracy.
2. Images. Match the images to your words. While writing, envision what types of photos you need such as royalty free pictures, scanned art work, or graphics. If you use your own photographs, be aware that you may have to obtain releases from the recognizable people in those pics before you publish. Research any legals issues that might apply specific to your situation. I used a combination of my own photos, partnered with a professional photographer, and created clip art specific to the series.
3. Edit. You may have to adjust the text, swap out a few pictures or two, or stay on the hunt for the exact photo you need. You can find picture book templates online. A storyboard tacked to the wall or taped to a dry board can give you a whole new perspective. Stay with the theme and don’t rush the creative process. This is the fun part. Absolutely the words are important, but the pictures enhance the telling of the story.
4. PowerPoint. In my mind, an eBook is not a print book. A print picture book is not an eBook. Over the years, I’ve watched with great curiosity kids swiping through pages on their mother’s iPhones. This is a totally different experience than having a picture book laying across your lap. I kept this in mind as I thought about the animal stories I wanted to share with the world. After eight months and much trial and error with many different processes and multiple do-overs using various software options, I finally settled on Microsoft PowerPoint. The high def pictures are easy to insert, text boxes can be moved around, resizing is super easy, and graphics are a snap to add. Each slide would be one page in the eBook. The pictures I used in the Flash books were taken by a professional photographer because I wanted to capture those beautiful rescue horses in the best possible way.
5. Design. Now is the time to get serious about designing your cover and the pages of your book. I hired a graphic designer to design a professional cover and to provide guidance on compatible colors and layout. We purposely have a cover that looks like a regular thumb nail, but the inside of the book is landscape. Someone else helped with designing clip art and graphics, because honestly by the time I’d written the words and matched text with pics, my brain was fried. Having another pair of creative eyes speeds up the process. Compensation can be by the hour or a share of book sales. Make sure the creative team you’ve put together all share in your vision of the finished product. You are the conductor of this great
6. Facts. Work on front matter, back matter, bios of the contributors, a killer tag line and update all your social media sites. For kids books, I always like to include a glossary of terms and a fact section. Post a few teasers for a “book cover reveal” to Twitter and Facebook. Think about your target market and the key words you’ll need for Amazon. Add the book covers to your Amazon Author page.
7. Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. Here’s the best news: save your PowerPoint manuscript as a PDF and it opens right up into Kids Book Creator, which is a dream for indie authors. Book Creator is self-explanatory, but if you’re not sure about the how, there are several excellent help videos on YouTube (writers are such a giving lot!). After your book is in Creator and before you go live, be sure to use the review mode and view your book on all devices.
8. Launch. Yay, you did it!
9. Promote. There are so many options out there to promote Indie Authors, but readers can’t read the book unless they know about it. The Rescue Animal Series was launched in October 2016 with four books and more in the works for 2017. I know my little series will not be a runaway best seller at first, but I love these animals and I remain in awe of the people who care for them. I wanted to share their stories with the world, and hopefully we’ll reach the point where book sales can lend support to some of their efforts.
10. Holy Book Club, Batman, there’s a stinkin’ typo! Yep. That’s exactly what we found. After several people had read over that text many, many times, there it was. Ultimately, it’s me, the author who shoulders the blame. Thank goodness Amazon makes it easy to replace the previous manuscript. Go back to your PowerPoint file, make the changes, resave as a PDF 2nd version, re-upload to Kids’ Book Creator again to create a new Mobi file, and update the original manuscript in your Amazon KDP account.
You can do this! I hope this article saves you hours of trial and error. All the best for a creative 2017, and thanks for following WordsmithSix.
Natalie Bright is author of the Animal Rescue Series; true stories about animals with second chances.