From Fanfiction to Publishing

Have you ever been so engrossed in a book series that you just had to continue the story beyond the pages? If so, then you are not alone! Before the internet, members of the Star Trek fandom would write fanfiction to send to their friends and pass out at fan conventions. This phenomenon has been around for quite some time, and it continues to grow in popularity as more and more fandoms are created.

I have been reading and writing fanfiction since I was thirteen, and it’s something that I have continued doing as an adult. For many of us who are prolific readers, the book doesn’t just stop on the last page; its world goes deeper than what is written in the pages of the book. As fans of both the world and the characters, we want the legacy of the series to continue long after the series ends. This mindset can not only get you started on the path to writing your own works of fiction, but it can also allow you the opportunity to edit new works by different authors before they get out into the world.

Cassandra Clare, author of the well-known series, The Mortal Instruments, got her career started by writing Harry Potter fanfiction. (If you’d like to check out her current fiction, you can do so on her website). You have to start somewhere, right?

Creating fanfiction is a great place to start writing. You can get feedback from the community, practice developing characters, and delve deeper into a world that you already love. It’s a great way to hone your craft from the very beginning, in a safe and welcoming environment. I’ve even seen fanfiction authors who have created their own characters that fit into the world of the original book.

Many fanfiction authors even have what they call beta-readers, who essentially act as editors to help with organization, plot, world-building, character development, and more. Some fanfiction authors even have people who create custom artwork for their stories! There are so many elements that go into the development of fanfiction that it’s almost a microcosm of the publishing industry.

Many people automatically equate publishing with editing, which isn’t necessarily the case. While it is true that editing is a crucial aspect of publishing, it isn’t the only aspect. If you enjoy reading and contributing to the numerous (and usually hilarious) tags on AO3 and Fanfiction.net, then search engine optimization (SEO) and social media work might be a great option for you to pursue. Do you love art and design? Then you can work in a design department creating book covers and art for the interior of books. If you are fascinated by computers and coding, then you can work in the relatively new and evolving field of ebooks and audiobooks. The publishing industry has a place for every bibliophile out there—even fanfiction writers. The best part? You are getting paid to do it ! My advice to you is to keep calm, follow your dreams, and write fanfiction!

Tips on Pairing Fonts

Good typography can make anything look good, but it can be hard to successfully pair your fonts. Creating contrast is the key to good font pairing. You can achieve contrast in many ways, and it is a lot simpler than you think. Here are a few tips on how you can successfully pair fonts without needing a degree in graphic design.

Use Different Weights of the Same Font

The easiest way to ensure that your typography choices look good together is to use different weights of the same font. You choose one typeface, and then utilize the different weights of that typeface to create contrast. A great example of this is using a bold weight for the header and a regular weight for the body. This method also creates consistency in your document/design because everything looks similar, but it’s just different enough to create contrast.

Use a Serif with a Sans Serif Font

A classic example of contrast is pairing a sans serif font with a serif font. These fonts compliment each other because sans serifs tend to be visually undetailed, while serifs have more visual detail. Another way to do this is to pair a script font with a serif font,
or a display font with a sans serif font. It is the balance of the visually detailed fonts with the less detailed fonts that makes these types of pairings successful.

Don’t Pair Fonts That are Too Similar, but Don’t Pair Fonts That are Vastly Different, Either

Pairing two fonts that look too similar is not a good choice because there is not enough contrast between the two. Fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia do not look good together because it’s difficult to tell them apart. At the same time, pairing two fonts that are too different can also backfire because the fonts express a confusing message when used together. Think of it like this: you wouldn’t match an old-western looking font with a sci-fi or modern font, would you?

Sometimes the Only Contrast is Size

Playing with different sizes of the same font is another simple way to create contrast. The trick is creating enough contrast between the sizes so that your information really stands out. Using a 24-point header and an 18-point body text might not create the emphasis that you are looking for, but a 36-point header with an 18-point body text will because there is more of a difference between the sizes, which creates a clear hierarchy of information.
You do not have to be a graphic designer to make beautiful and professional designs. Good typography can turn an okay design into a beautiful design with a few simple steps. You can utilize these steps for any type of document or content, whether it’s a resume, wedding invitation, or a book cover. Good typography signals authenticity, and it is an easy way to make anything look better.

A phone screen with apps for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest visible

Personal versus Professional Branding in the Business of Book

In the age of social media, the art of personal branding is a vital aspect of ensuring the books that authors and publishers are putting out into the world are making it to the right audience. Everything from the cover design to the publishing business logo to the author’s Twitter account are all part of the message telling readers that this is a professional publication.
So what is the difference between personal branding and professional branding? Why does it matter, and when is it better to use one over the other? Let’s start by defining what each one is. According to Pamela Wilson of Big Brand System, a nationally recognized company that specializes in building online presences for both businesses and individuals, personal branding is “built around you—your personality, your interests, your lifestyle.” On the other hand, professional branding is “built around an identity that you create for your business.” This is not to say that a personal brand is not professional or that a professional brand cannot have a personal aspect or touch to it. More specifically, a personal brand focuses on an individual and a professional brand focuses on the business.
This is important for bookselling because, as mentioned above, branding fits into almost every aspect of writing and publishing. If you are a publishing company, you will need to have a brand for your business that represents what your goals and missions are. It should represent just what sort of books you will publish. Within your company, it is likely that you will either have inhouse editors and design teams, or perhaps you will work with freelance editors and design teams. In either case, these editors and designers likely have their own personal brand, even if this falls under the umbrella of the publishing company. They have a specific way they represent themselves to the authors and agents with whom they are working. If they are freelancers, they more than likely have websites, portfolios, and business cards with their own logos and individual branding that reflects the way they want to present themselves, both online and off.
Authors, too, have spent time building their images. At one point in time, we looked to the author’s personal history or biography, their book cover designs, and even their work itself as the evidence of how this author was meant to be perceived. I’m sure many of us remember high school or undergraduate Shakespeare classes where we discussed authorship debates. The things that we use to define a play or sonnet to be “Shakespeare’s” are the marks that his work has revealed with consistency: iambic pentameter, sonnets and the syllables and rhyme schemes therein, and the themes of the plays. This, for all intents and purposes, could be considered Shakespeare’s personal brand.
It is still more important today for authors to build their personal brands. So much of life’s interactions are done online these days, from Twitter to Instagram, Facebook to Snapchat, LinkedIn to TikTok, and email or personal web pages. Many well-established authors have, at very least, some form of social media. Many others have websites that are also linked to social media. In all of these aspects, they have learned the importance of building their online personas, or in other words, their personal brands.
A common misconception of personal branding and social media, especially among novice authors, up-and-coming artists, and other such individuals, is that self-promotion is a bit of a narcissistic trend when it is in fact a rather vital aspect of the success of one’s personal brand. It’s important to have that presence and persona in order to network both online and off, as well as aid in the success of your book sales. So yes, it is self-promotion, but for the purpose of self and for the purpose of your audience finding what very well could be their next favorite book. You want your work to make it into the right hands: the right agent, the right publisher, and the right readers. Making sure you are well-represented through a personal brand is the foundation on which you will build your career. Make sure it reflects yourself well.

picture of a bookshelf with YA titles

Color Theory: How the Color Palettes of YA Book Covers Vary by Subgenre

Have you ever taken a look at your bookshelf and noticed that one color of books dominates over the rest? Maybe that’s not something you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, but if you’ve ever tried the rainbow bookshelf trend, you definitely know which color of book covers you prefer. Thinking about that got me curious, and I decided to launch a survey asking YA readers which colors attract them most when they go out in search of a new book.

The results were amazing. I was expecting a small response pool, maybe fifty to one hundred respondents, and ended up with nearly nine hundred responses from forty-eight countries. I started by asking how much color affected readers’ desire to purchase a book, and 87 percent of respondents said they were less likely to buy a book if they didn’t like the color of the cover. An overwhelming 78 percent said they would buy a book with a blue cover, followed closely by black with 61 percent and red with 48 percent. Colors such as purple and green weren’t far behind. However, a dramatic drop-off happened with brighter colors like orange and yellow. In fact, only 11 percent of survey respondents said they’d be likely to buy a book with a yellow cover.

Things got even more interesting when subgenres were included in the results. Nearly 73 percent of respondents said they preferred reading YA fantasy books, followed closely by YA adventure books at 49 percent and YA romance novels at 43 percent. When I did the math, all three genres said they’d be likely to buy a book with a blue cover. However, fantasy and adventure readers responded that they were more likely to purchase red, black, or green books, and romance readers were more likely to purchase books with purple or pink covers. Readers of YA contemporary novels only made up 28 percent of the response pool, but I found that they were three times as likely as readers of other genres to buy a book with a yellow or orange cover.

Wanting to see how this played out in sales, I took a look at Seventeen magazine’s December 2019 article, “The 91 Best YA Books of 2019 So Far.” When you scroll through the results, the overwhelming majority of best sellers sported blue, black, or red covers, which might lead one to wonder—would certain books have sold better if their covers had been designed differently?

Unfortunately, that’s a question we’ll likely never know the answer to. Though, if you’re curious, it might be fun to look into how different editions of books with redesigned covers differed in sales trends. But if you’re not up for that level of research, that’s cool too. Just let me know how haywire your brain goes the next time you find yourself scouting the bookstore and end up with a stack of blue books on the way out.

Reaching Unconventional Contacts

Welcome back to Finding the Vein by Jennifer Hanlon Wilde, Ooligan’s third title in the Library Writers Project, our partnership with Multnomah County Library. Ooligan’s first mystery title follows two detectives, a teen sleuth and a police sergeant, as they and their respective partners-in-crime (or in-justice, as the case may be) investigate a camp counselor’s death. In addition to the multiple potential murderers and classic mystery genre red herrings, Finding the Vein is filled with comedy and heart.

When we developed the marketing plan for this book, we included unconventional contacts that were appropriate for the themes in Finding the Vein. These included adoption associations, libraries, book clubs, and summer camps, in addition to the typical contacts that a project team collects such as national and regional publications and magazines, independent bookstores, individual bloggers and book reviewers on social media, and podcasts. Our question was this: How do we reach the unconventional ones? Thankfully, some of the libraries are already taken care of through our partnership with LWP: Multnomah County Library purchases a few copies of the LWP books as they are published to distribute among Multnomah County’s library branches. For the adoption associations, other libraries, book clubs, and summer camps, though, we needed to get more creative. Due to COVID-19, our options were limited because we didn’t have the usual physical collateral that teams include in a sales kit.

We decided that we needed to design something versatile that could be used both physically and virtually in both our marketing and social media campaigns, and we came up with the idea of designing a summer camp–themed postcard. We have a small budget set aside for collateral, which we haven’t used yet, so this is a completely doable strategy. First, we’ll send our contacts an email that informs them of the forthcoming Finding the Vein, gives a summary of the book, describes why it may be of interest to them, and encourages them to tell their colleagues about it. If we get a response, we will send them a physical postcard; that way we don’t waste any by sending them to contacts who won’t be interested or informed of its relevance beforehand. Hopefully we will receive more sales through these connections. At most, we may receive a couple of reviews or an announcement in a newsletter out of our efforts, both of which would be fantastic to have from these more specialized contacts.

The additional benefit of designing a postcard is that we can use it virtually as well. I’ll be sending it to Jennifer, the author, in case she’d like to use it during her email preorder campaign in the early spring of 2021, as well as for usage on her website and blog. They can also be printed out and used as flyers, so we’ll be sure to send the independent bookstores and libraries on our contact list a virtual copy as well. Lastly, the design can be used as an image on social media. Through the combined usage of the postcard design, we are essentially creating an immediately recognizable image that nearly every one of our contacts (and their associates) will eventually see in some format. This ensures that if they or a member of our intended audience sees Finding the Vein on a bookshelf or an online store, they will be that much more likely to purchase it, and in turn, tell others about it.

I’m excited to see how our postcard campaign moves forward, and I can’t wait to see its results!

Finding the Vein will launch on April 20, 2021, in both trade paperback and ebook formats. To learn more about the Library Writers Project and how to submit work to the Multnomah County Library, please visit their website.

The Mystery Behind the Mystery Genre

Overseeing the process of publishing Ooligan’s third title in our partnership with Multnomah County Library and their Library Writers Project has been a whirlwind of mystery and excitement so far. From designing the cover to crafting our marketing plan, Finding the Vein has shown how different the publishing process can be for different genres. As a reminder, Finding the Vein is written by Jennifer Hanlon Wilde and is about a murder at a summer camp for adopted international children. After a well-liked counselor mysteriously dies, camper Isaac and his new friend Hal—a duo not unlike Sherlock Holmes and John Watson—begin to theorize with their fellow campers what could have happened. Sergeant Mikie O’Malley is called to the scene to investigate the case and, due to the nature of the camp, is reminded of her recent discovery that she and her father are not biologically related. Soon, both the amateur and professional detectives come to the conclusion that Paul was murdered. The question is how. All parties involved slowly realize that there is more to Heritage Camp than meets the eye, and the murder is just the beginning.

As the LWP team saw last year while researching the romance genre when working on Iditarod Nights, it can be difficult but also incredibly rewarding to learn how to publish a new genre. Like every kind of genre fiction, we knew that the mystery genre has a large audience, which would be great for Ooligan to break into. We just needed to get there. How? Well, that’s part of the mystery.

Working as detectives, the LWP team investigated the best ways to design the cover—the first step in order to properly reach the desired audience. We researched popular design decisions for mystery and thriller books, finding that dark and misty forest photographs and all-caps sans serif fonts would set the scene of this title perfectly while still meeting the expectations of mystery-book lovers. With this in mind, our designers got to work. What came out is a beautiful cover design that not only solidifies Finding the Vein as a mystery book to its audience, but one that looks like it belongs to the same collection as the two previous LWP titles, The Gifts We Keep and Iditarod Nights. In addition, the design is lighthearted enough to fit the other aspects of Finding the Vein, such as the comedic interactions of the endearing characters, the setting of a summer camp, and themes such as identity and learning what it means to be LGBTQ+.

In regards to marketing, Finding the Vein proved again to be educational to the LWP team. We needed to rethink how to reach our desired audience, so we began researching mystery book bloggers, reviewers, podcasters, and book clubs. We searched for adoption associations, summer camps, and LGBTQ+ media that may be interested in other aspects of the book as well. We are excited about what kinds of attention Finding the Vein may receive once we start inquiring about blurbs and reviews from all of our collected contacts!

In addition to the above-mentioned progress, Finding the Vein has undergone a developmental edit, a heavy copyedit, a medium copyedit, and has been prepared for the design process via XML typecoding. Next up, we’ll see the finalized galley, finish up the social media strategy plan, and do a print proofread.

Finding the Vein will launch in April 2021 in both trade paperback and ebook formats. I can’t wait to see how this title progresses through the publication process and to finally hold it in my hands. For updates on this title and others, stay tuned to Ooligan’s blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. To learn more about the Library Writers Project and how to submit work to the Multnomah County Library, please visit their website.

Should You Design Your Book in Microsoft Word?

There are many stages to publishing a book. You have to write the manuscript, go through multiple rounds of editing, do marketing and publicity for its publication, and of course, it has to be designed. In the world of self-publishing, all this planning and work falls on the author, which, to some, is a great position to be in as it gives them complete autonomy over the entire process. However, this also means that, unlike working with a traditional publisher, the cost of these also falls to you—and it can start to add up very quickly. This leads to having to make some tough decisions and prioritize certain parts of the process over others.

One piece of advice given to authors to help them save money is to lay out and format their book in Microsoft Word as opposed to something like InDesign or hiring a professional book designer.

I can see the appeal of this. Word is a program that is familiar to most of us, especially if you’re a writer. It’s a lot cheaper than InDesign, which is a more professional tool that is also very technical and has a steeper learning curve.

However, there are many reasons why Microsoft Word isn’t the best tool for this kind of work. So, before you commit to doing all that work in this program, here are a few things you should take into consideration.

First: Word can be very difficult to control. If you have a book with elements like images, graphs, sections, etc., it’s difficult to get them to sit exactly where you want. You get very little precision when it comes to design and placement, which leaves a lot of room for mistakes. Some are small, but others will impede the readability of your book.

Second: Word has limited options for customization. With Word, you have a limited number of fonts you can work with to truly customize your work and make it stand out. While you can download custom fonts and use them, only system fonts will transfer over from one person to the next. So, all that work you put into your layout with all of your customization will disappear when you hand over the file to someone else and transfer it to another computer, as there’s no way to embed or package these elements to prevent this from happening. There’s also the issue of version compatibility. Since each version of Word is so different, chances are your design will not transfer over to the latest version.

Third: Word is not set up for print production. Currently, there are no options for setting up bleeds, no control over spreads, no way to package files, and Word also works in RGB as opposed to CMYK (the print color mode). All these seemingly small details can cause so many problems when you go to print as they can cause things to be off-center, your colors to be off, or your fonts to go missing, just to name a few potential snags. While there might be some workarounds for these, from what I’ve seen they don’t always work out, so there is no real solution.

These are just a few of the reasons why you wouldn’t want to use Word for layout and design. If you’re doing something very simple and straightforward that you’re not looking to put into the consumer market, then I see why this would be a good option for you. But if you’re going for something that looks professional and enhances the reading experience, Word is not going to be your best option for that.

While it may seem like the interior design of a book isn’t quite as important, it’s actually one of the key pieces that brings your book to life. Think about it: your reader interacts with the interior design of your book just as much as the story itself. How they gain access to the story is through its design. If your book isn’t laid out correctly and efficiently, the reader can’t get to the story, which will affect their experience and overall perception of the book.

Whether you want to invest in the interior design of your book is entirely up to you, what your goals are, and what you want from your publishing journey. As a book designer, I am a bit biased, but I also understand that designing a book is a lot more than just putting words on a page and picking a nice font. There are so many rules and finer details that make your book legible and something that readers want to look at, even at a subconscious level.

Typography in 2020: What’s in a Trend?

It goes without saying that typography is an integral part of our everyday lives. We’ve also become accustomed to an onslaught of visual material, both in our digital lives and out in the real world where typography is used both functionally and nefariously. Highway signs and way-finding aids are used ubiquitously in our twenty-first century landscapes and have certain standards that are unique to specific regions. According to researcher Philip M. Garvey at Penn State’s Larson Institute of Engineering, the United States Federal Traffic Signs Regulations indicate that, “with the exception of destination names, all signs must use only upper-case letters. For destination names (i.e., places, streets, highways) using mixed-case legends, the lower-case loop height should be 75 percent of the upper-case height.” Specific research has been done in order to determine proper sign detection and legibility, usually having to do with the reflective materials being used, contrasting levels of letterforms against light or dark backgrounds, and font usage, spacing, and weight.

If typography is out in the wild, it will demand your attention whether it’s effective or not. Even unsuccessful attempts at public graphic design grab the observant onlooker’s gaze. If we continue with this line of thought, we can infer (with the help of Garvey) that “the ability of a driver [or pedestrian] to detect and read a sign is a function of numerous human, environmental, and design factors with complex interrelationships.”

Besides advertisements, which target specific consumer demographics and economic capital to prove successful, there is another graphic style out in the wild with a wide-ranging reach and scope: graffiti. Lindsay Bates, student of cultural heritage and architecture, describes that “graffiti writing has a very specific aesthetic: it’s about the tag, it’s about graphic form, it’s about letters, styles, and spray-paint application, and it’s about reaching different locations.” As graffiti and street art have become more widely accepted (and commodified) in mainstream culture, it’s useful to examine the ways in which this insular and notoriously underground subculture has affected our ideas around type design.

According to the Adobe Blog, the most popular typographic trends of the previous year (2019) include large, bold san-serif fonts that demand attention and improve legibility for brand names or as a graphic center piece for a design. We can return to Garvey’s research on contrast to follow similar trends in high-contrast fonts that employ heavy stroke weights and limited negative space to provide added impact: “The photometric characteristics of the sign, including the internal contrast, luminance, and light design, can also directly impact how well a driver sees a sign.” There is also continued interest in script fonts and letterforms that appear hand-painted or drawn stemming from the work of Stephen Powers, a forefather of graffiti who gained notoriety for his series of public, hand-painted murals titled “A Love Letter For You” dedicated to the citizens of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

With an increase in digital tools for graphic expression, the future of typography includes sculptural and 3D experimentation with new levels of dynamism using motion graphics and kinetic coding and mapping. We are part of a special time and place here on Earth where nostalgia butts up against innovation, simplicity interwoven with nuance and surprise, all happening simultaneously.

Finding the Face of FAULTLAND

Suzy Vitello’s Faultland has evolved quite a bit as a novel since Ooligan acquired it, and the rest of the project is developing well, too. We’re planning our marketing strategy, finalizing the book’s description and gearing up for the last rounds of copyediting. All of this contributes to the feeling that the Faultland project is taking shape, but nothing makes a publishing project feel realized quite like finally getting a cover. We’re so close to having a final design as I write this. I can’t wait to share this striking image with the world.

Cover design is an important, frequently complicated affair for any press, but Ooligan’s process probably has most beat. We don’t select a single or small handful of designers at the outset. Instead, we invite the entire press to submit mockups. In several rounds of feedback from the head of the Design department and the rest of the press, all of the potential designers receive input on their ideas and make adjustments. Often, one designer will work on a few ideas simultaneously. For Faultland, we went through six rounds of feedback. Ooligan usually ends up with three finalists, but there were so many fantastic options that Faultland had four. I got Suzy’s feedback on those four, which was detailed and showed a great deal of understanding of the role of a book cover.

With her feedback in mind, the entire press weighed our options. This book’s cover was a tough choice. Any of the four final covers could have worked well, which was a surprise considering the book’s cross-genre content. (I had expected designers to fall too heavily on either the sci-fi or the literary side of the book, but many of them walked the line with style.) While voting, we had to remember that the cover isn’t primarily a work of art—it’s the book’s most important piece of marketing. We had to set aside our personal aesthetics and think about an audience that knows nothing of the novel’s content. For many readers, a cover can have a bigger influence on their choices than the book’s description or the author’s previous work.

I’m excited about the decision the press made. It’s an iconic image, and very “Portland” in all the best ways. Not to spoil the upcoming cover reveal, but as a big Blazers fan, I’m in love with the color scheme. We have a lot to work with as we apply the cover’s aesthetics to our other marketing materials.

As pleased as I am with our cover, there’s a bittersweetness to Ooligan’s cover selection process. Because of the collaborative nature of our rounds of feedback, we had the pleasure of watching several designs evolve and improve. In a world of extravagantly funded university presses, I’d publish editions of this book with each of the four final covers. After each cover vote I participated in, I felt like the press made the right decision, but still felt a pang of loss. So much work goes into covers that don’t end up being used. I want to find ways to make use of those alternate faces of Faultland. Sometimes, this press has more talent than we can make use of.

A Brief Guide to Children’s Book Design

We all likely remember a children’s picture book (or several) that we adored as children. Personally, I had an affinity for Go, Dog. Go!, a Dr. Seuss-esque beginning reader written and illustrated by P.D. Eastman. As one of the earliest introductions a child gets to literature, a picture book’s design and content are important to consider at every stage of production.

According to the article “A Brief History of Children’s Publishing and the Art of Visual Storytelling,” pictorial storytelling has been a foundation in many cultures since the dawn of time, dating back to early cave paintings. However, the original “picture book” only dates back 130 years ago, from artist Randolph Caldecott.

Since then, picture books have evolved to serve different agendas, from educational, such as teaching the alphabet, to more “edgy” topics in recent years, such as tackling what it’s like to be a child of divorce. With every change, however, according to editor and illustrator John Shelley, one thing remains consistent: the design of a children’s book must keep a child interested and entice them to turn the page.

Shelley explains that there are four types of illustrations in children’s books. The first type is a “boxed” illustration, meaning the image is completely contained within straight, abrupt edges. This can be achieved by placing a border around the image or by cropping the image to give the edges a sharp, clean line.

The second type of illustration is called a “vignette,” or an illustration that has fading edges. The borders are more loose, giving the image a sprawling, this-was-drawn-right-on-this-exact-page feel.

The third type is called a “spot” illustration. These are the small, free-floating images sprinkled throughout the pages.

Finally, “bleed” illustrations are images that are situated up to the edge of the page. Some bleed images span the entire two-page spread, and an elaborate bleed image can be effective for a highly-detailed climactic point in the book. These illustrations require an attentive designer who knows not to allow important parts of the illustration to fall in the gutter, the place where the pages are bound at the spine. If there is any action or a central character in the center of these full-spread illustrations, they will get swallowed by the gutter.

Shelley argues that with these four different types of illustrations, designers can play around with pacing and the mood invoked by a picture book. For example, let’s say an illustrator used four spot images to show a character—let’s name him Fred—running to catch the bus. The first image shows Fred grabbing his coat, the next shows him closing the front door, the third shows him running down his driveway, and the final shows Fred stepping on the bus. By strategically placing these images, you can create a sense of urgency that you would not get from a vignette or bleed image showing him stepping on the bus with text saying “Fred raced to the bus.”

Shelley also explains that the way the images are placed in relation to the text is imperative. A picture book’s goal should be to get the young reader to want to flip the page, eager to learn what happens next. So, for example, if the image of Fred rushing to the bus is placed on the left-hand page with the text “Fred raced to the bus, knowing if he missed it, he wouldn’t make it in time to present his project at the science fair,” the reader will find out whether he made it or not by simply looking to the right-hand page. But if you place that image and text on the right-hand page, the reader must turn to the next page to discover if Fred caught the bus in time. Shelley argues that a picture book’s illustrations and text should lead the reader down the page and to the right. The bottom right corner should be the ultimate goal of a page’s design.

Other aspects Shelley mentions to consider for designing a children’s book include identifying patterns to maintain throughout the book and the use of large and small images to create drama or draw focus to specific details. The most important items to remember, however, are the following: First, consider both the images and the text, not just one or the other. Second, remember your audience: both children and the adults who purchase the books and read to them. Third, keep in mind that the ultimate goal of a picture book’s design is to keep the reader moving forward. And finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and break the rules.