My editor for The Oxherd Boy book for adults will retire at the end of the year. This is a bittersweet transition, because Lindley was the first editor at a major publishing house to express support for the book and played an important part in shaping the book into what it is today. As an editor, she's been strong in her guidance where I lacked knowledge and experience, but she also stepped back to allow me a huge amount of creative freedom to follow my intuition to write, draw, express, doubt, change my mind, and settle on different courses, all while laying the groundwork to support the book with different teams at Random House -- art direction, publishing, international rights, sales and publicity, and more -- that all do so much to lift the profile of a book.
It's a little bit of a groundless time to transition to a new editor, because I'm not so early in the process that I still have to spend a significant amount of time working on the content, but I'm also not completely finished that the production process is exactly ready to begin. But all the same, with all the preparation that Lindley has done in anticipation of her departure, I trust that everything will work itself out in the end. I've met with my new editor Angelin, who was interested, curious, and engaged on our transition meeting, and I think between the two of us with the critical contributions of Danielle, my art director, we'll figure everything out quite happily.
The last few weeks have been spent getting illustrations and the manuscript in a clean spot and getting into some new and exciting milestones in this publishing process!
We reviewed a bulking dummy, which is a blank, unprinted book that shows us exactly the dimensions, weight, and feel of it using the set number of pages, materials, finish, and binding that the final product would have.
Though I've known the dimensions before and have been drawing to them, seeing it bound in book format for some reason looks bigger than I had imagined. The pages have weight to them but aren't too heavy, and are bound such that the book can lay open flatter to give the two-page illustrations like the one below a more landscape-y feel.
I also received a first set of test proofs, looking at five different pages with different contents, colors, and styles, to see how the illustrations look in printed format. The pages are very white, on the cooler side, so I would like to make some adjustments to increase the warmth of the drawings, especially where more subtle orange and red-toned features would be lost. Aside from that observation, the ink sits quietly on the uncoated pages in a way that is peaceful and fitting for the overall style.
After Frankfurter Buchmesse last month, the rights team at Penguin Random House is getting into selling the book to international publishers. For more insight into that process, I describe some of it in my last post on whole book translations. Anyhow, to assist them with those relationships, I will be adding information about the book and myself into the database of authors, which also will become a critical resource for when the book is ultimately published from a sales and accounting standpoint. Having worked in database management and launched a couple of member and customer portals in my career, I'm grateful for this additional resource as a single stop for all of the complexities that go into promoting, selling, and tracking a book so that the publisher and the author are on the same figurative page.
Final Stretch on Drawing
I'm down to the last six illustrations covering 12 pages. It's interesting to see how my technique and style have both changed over the last six to seven months of practicing drawing and painting nearly every day. It's been an incredibly valuable exercise, and I'm curious where it will take me as I transition to making the children's book BIG ENOUGH next year.
I hope to complete the last pages before Lindley formally leaves her role to move on to other interesting, loving, and creative work that she has planned. I'm excited for all she has planned. I hope you'll join me in wishing her all the best and expressing our immense gratitude for all she's done for The Oxherd Boy and the community we share. 💛