I haven’t written for ages but I’ve had loads going on. We had Christmas, which included a trip to the Harry Potter Museum in London - absolutely superb - if you haven’t been you must go! Here is a picture of us in the big smoke…
Since Christmas I’ve been changing my day job which has taken a lot of energy and has sapped my creativity a bit. But now that I’m settled I’m getting stuck back in. I’m now in my final stretch of my MA and will produce a picture book for my final project. Over the coming months I’m going to take you through the process of creating the book. I’ll mix in a few other things relating to my research along the way.
The story I have chosen to make into a book is my reimagining of the classic Little Red Riding Hood which I’ve called The Revenge of Red Riding. I have written the story, drawn lots of sketches and produced a full dummy book but now I need to create the final images and then get them printed as a proper book. Then I need to decide whether to self publish it or continue pitching to agents and publishers - but I’m a long way from that point so I have time to decide that later.
Sneak peek at the characters
This is my Red Riding - an early sketch and a more final image. As you know one of the focuses of my work is to fairly represent gender in a less stereotyped manner. For my Red Riding character I tried my best to make her less stereotypically girly. I hope you like her.
What size should the book be?
One of the first big decisions I’ve had to make is the size of the book. This sounds like an easy question. Picture books are usually pretty big right? Big enough for a child to hold and turn pages easily and big enough to show off the illustrations. But how big? What size should I create the images? This will affect the art I send to print and therefore how I set up the page on my iPad at the outset so it needs to be right before I put Apple pencil to screen.
I have spent a while researching what size other books are, what size printers will print and what this means for the choice of paper, the binding and cost. Publishers tend to stick to a small number of standard sizes to make the printing process cheaper and more streamlined.
Before approaching printers I took a look at a few books from my daughter’s bookshelf to see what others have done. The first picture below shows a few of our books that are portrait. They are mostly 8.5 x 10.5 inches. Giraffes can’t dance was a little bigger at 9.5 x 11.5 inches.
The books below are landscape or square. The landscape books we have tend to be 11 inches wide x almost 10 inches tall. The square ones all differed slightly but were around 10 inches square give or take a little.
Some suggest that portrait books are most popular by bookshops because they do not need deep shelves to display them. Others suggest that a square book allows a wide spread which can show off both landscape and portrait images well. Sometimes the subject and style of the illustrations lend themselves well to either portrait or landscape. This book below, Sky High by Germano Zullo, is a fascinating book showing drawings of a building that grows in height throughout the book. The tall slim dimensions shown really show off the subject matter well.
On one of my pages I thought about adding a fold out page to make the reading experience a bit more interesting. Having contacted several printers most said the cost would be prohibitive so they either do not offer that service or don’t advise it. One printer said they could do it but the maximum book size with such a feature would be about 8 inches square.
Some printer websites have some excellent guidance which has been really helpful. Good examples include Ex Why Zed and Book Printing UK. Some are also happy to send samples to assist with paper choice.
So what did I choose?
For my book I have decided on a landscape orientation and I’m aiming for 10 x 8 inches. I chose this for a few reasons. Firstly, it is a popular size with many printers which gives me choices when I come to that stage. Secondly, a few parts of the story would benefit from the wide spread landscape would offer. Thirdly, if the book is landscape I may not need the fold out page which will save some money when it comes to printing without affecting the illustrations too much.
So now I have the size sorted I need to start completing all the spreads and other parts of the book like the cover and end pages.
Did you choose a different size for your book? Comment below and tell me why you made your choice!
Great post! I appreciate your thoughtful look at book sizes and you sharing your insights. I agree that keeping it to a standard size is best. I’m really looking forward to seeing Little Red Riding Hood’s journey :)