Princess Spells ABC is the second children’s book that I self-published on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). It’s an ABC book featuring princesses and the things that princesses love. Like my first book, Dreams of Monsters (which I’ve posted about here), it was inspired by my daughters.
I obtained the illustrations for Princess Spells ABC using freelancer.com, my favorite online community for finding great freelancers. When I posted the project, I indicated to potential bidders that I was looking for a style that was pretty and cute as I wanted to create a feel that resonated with kids when they think of classical Disney princesses. The bids came in quickly but a lot of them were quite bland and lacked emotion. Many of the bids in fact looked like they were the same art from different sources – perhaps some freelancers act as middlemen and source from the same pool of artists behind the scenes? Anyways I did receive quite a few good bids, and ultimately went with a style that seemed playful and sweet.
After awarding the bid to the freelancer, they started working on sketches for me to provide them more guidance. They provided concepts of both grown-up and child princesses, which both looked amazing:
I was also looking for what I call a “consistency element” for my ABC book and went with something I use often – a cat that’s part of every illustration which kids can look forward to on each page.
This orange tabby is inspired after my own cat Tofu. Here he is sleeping on my daughter’s changing pad (…) – he’s the one on the right, and the small Siamese next to him is Nori. We have a third cat, Miso, who’s a fat grey tabby.
If you’re looking to start using Freelancer.com to find illustrations for your own book, click here to sign up and you’ll get a $20 credit to get you started!
Although I had already chosen the items for each letter of the alphabet and the scenes I wanted the illustrators to provide (of course these were needed to get them started), I hadn’t yet decided what I wanted to do in terms of text for the book. It’s important to have some text in picture books to help parents have built-in story line to read to their kids. I think a lot of parents end up improvising, but providing something to start with certainly helps, even if it’s “just” an ABC book. Also it’s useful for when toddlers get to the stage where they begin to read. So I decided to play with alliteration and write a short sentence for each page, e.g.:
- He Alerted her About the Apple but she Ate it Anyways
- She Beamed under the Bright lights of the Beautiful Ballroom
- She felt Completely Carefree in her Cool, Classy Carriage
Simple enough, helps stress the letter and the sound it makes, and gives the parents a little something to read along as they go through the book. While reading it to my daughter I’ve found it effective to help describe the scene and she regularly asks me to read it to her, so at least it’s working for my personal little audience.
The entire job took about 3 weeks to complete and after discussing it with the designer we decided to go with 3 milestones: (1) sketches, (2) final colorless illustrations, and (3) color. When we got to the color stage, they explained that I had a few options and that full color illustrations would be a bit more expensive.
The first option (above) only colored the main elements of the art. It looked quite good but I felt children would struggle with the ambiguity of having some elements missing the color, and it did look a bit incomplete. The second, full color option gave a lot more life to the drawing, and felt like an obvious choice.
This time around I decided to go with a different trim size than the 8.5″ x 8.5″ that I used for Dream of Monsters. I went for 8.5″ x 11″ which is a portrait aspect ratio, partly because several of the illustrations had more of a portrait size and partly to try out something different. Regarding the illustrations it occurred to me that I hadn’t been specific enough in my guidelines to the designers about the size that I wanted, which is why I was improvising a bit at this stage of the game. Obviously not ideal, but I was able to frame the illustrations in a way that worked out. Here’s a screenshot straight from the source InDesign file showing a sample set of pages for E and F:
I obtained a few additional illustrations from the designer in order to assemble the cover which you can see below. To be frank I’m not 100% happy with the cover and may redo it at a later date, particularly as it has a crucial impact on a potential customer’s decision to buy.
That’s it for this post – hope you enjoyed reading about some of the steps that saw this ABC book come to life. Please check it out on Amazon and let me know what you think.
BONUS – YOUTUBE VIDEO!
To make the book more freely available, we decided to make a YouTube video where Luna and I read through Princess Spells ABC together. We go through the entire book, so please check it out and let us know what you think! Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDAPN-n66Kg&t.