The Story Behind The Story – Crab Run Beach

John’s Camping Adventures at Crab Run Beach
The “Story Behind the Story”  

Have you ever wondered what goes into writing and publishing a children’s book?
This year has been a whirlwind with publishing 5 new books and learning all the ins and outs that come with being an independent author.
In the months to come, I will be sharing some of my experiences with writing children’s books; from writing the stories to hiring an illustrator and choosing other vendors needed along the way.

I’m not only an indie author but I’m also a publisher. This means hiring all the vendors needed and decision-making is solely done by the author. Although I have many years of experience, with running businesses, and decision making, that part came easy to me. But the overall business of an indie author has been a real learning curve considering there are so many moving parts.

There are many steps to writing a children’s book. First, you have a story idea, then write the manuscript, hire an editor, create the characters for your story, imagine what style you are looking for, and hope you can hire an illustrator that can create exactly what you had in mind, to the layout of the pages and/or spreads. The list doesn’t stop there! A book formatter is needed before your book can go to print and many decisions to make with the layout of the book. Then deciding where you will have your books printed, U.S or overseas, getting bids for printing. Oh! then there is the marketing side of the business which is its own “story behind the story.”
And that’s the short version….

I Love To Go Camping was the first book I wrote in 2016. I wrote the book for my 4-year-old grandson after he experienced camping for the first time. I just loved how his face would light up when he told me stories about catching his first fish or hiking with his family in the forest for the first time.
John’s Camping Adventures was a re-write, re-edited and re-published of my first book because I knew I wanted to write several stories about camping, I wanted them to be similar in style and I wanted them to be published by my publishing company rather than using a large publishing house.
John’s Camping Adventures at Crab Run Beach is an extension of those two books.

The title John’s Camping Adventures at Crab Run Beach came to me as I was watching a documentary about crab fishing and my imagination ran from there. Typically, that’s what happens! I see a person, place or thing, and I quickly see a subject I can develop into a story, I think kids may enjoy or in this case an extension I can add to a series of stories I’ve already written.

Above, I’ve included a sketch and completed book cover of Crab Run Beach. Keep in mind, I have worked with the illustrator on two other books, so I was very familiar with her style and our agreement when it came to the business end of our relationship.
As you may see, the sketch appears very different than the colored illustration. Sometimes when receiving a sketch, you can’t always see everything in the sketch to know if that’s exactly what you had in mind until after the illustrations are colored.

Some illustrators use Procreate when drawing digital illustrations. If you are not familiar with the program, illustrations are typically created in layers so parts of the illustration can be manipulated, colors changed or through the book designing stage last-minute changes can be made. The font style can also be easily changed later as well.

After the cover was colored, I accepted the design as it was because in the book design/formatting stage I have changed some of the illustrations by making them smaller, larger or changing the font. Praise, my book designer is very talented when manipulating parts of illustrations. In this case we wanted to make the rock a bit smaller, the boy and his dog a bit larger and change the title font to match John’s Camping Adventures.

Fortunately, we were able to make some adjustments to the title and a few other small changes to the characters after receiving the completed files from the illustrator. 
Unfortunately, the illustrator drew the entire book, including the cover, without layers. At the time, I wasn’t aware the illustrator created the pages without layers, as she did in the past, so it was difficult to make any major changes through the formatting process. By then the illustrator became unavailable after sending her completed files and being paid in full. 

Lesson learned as an indie author, never assume, always have a clear understanding of how the illustrations will be created, what type of files you will be receiving at the end of the process, and a signed contract stating all details in writing.
There were many layers to this experience but in the end, I’m glad we were able to bring the book to print for everyone to enjoy.

As an indie author we have many choices and three books later, I’ve decided to move my camping series in a slightly different direction. John will be an older boy, sharing his new discoveries in National Parks and I’m excited to share they can be used for STEM learning and still have a fun story. 
I’m currently working on a new book and hoping to release it early next year, John’s Adventures at Yellowstone Park. I can’t wait to share this story with you as it is about mud pots, fumaroles or steam vents, geysers and more.

If you enjoyed this “story behind the story” experience, I would love to hear your thoughts as I continue to share my book experiences with you.
You can email me at 

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