Now the book is being sent to reviewers before it goes live on Amazon at the beginning of October.
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The last chapter (12) went out to my crowd editors a couple of weeks ago. I got some enthusiastic feedback from the kids, but a couple of the adults echoed my thoughts about the ending. It all wrapped up, but it was a little flat. Two big edits later and the chapter is now working well. The book is as finished as it can be.
Now I am publishing FAB (Friends Against Bullying) Club as a serial on my web site. You can read it for free, by going to alexhallatt.com/FAB. Signing up to the mailing list gets you entry into the members’ area, where you can download previous chapters and access other club goodies.
The next step is publishing the print book on Createspace.
As we get into the last few chapters of the crowd edit, it’s time to finalise the cover. This was the draft:
I had to neaten up the text and bring the kids to the fore to stand out a bit more on screen (books sold online need to have covers that work when they are only an inch or so wide).
Then I had to decide on the colour, which was tough. I put it out to my friends to decide and…. there was no consensus at all.
So I had to decide. Green it is.
Chapter 10 went out this week. There are 12 chapters in the book, so the crowd edit will be over soon. I’m a little sad, as I’m enjoying the whole process. I’ve learned a lot about how the book works (or didn’t) and have been able to tighten up the story. I’ve found the yawning chasms in my grammar education. My self-taught design skills have been given a major boost by someone who knows their way around a page (Hello, Jane!). All in all, it has been an enriching experience and I’m indebted to my volunteer editors.
It’s hard to illustrate this kind of post, but here are some screenshots from one of the younger editors, Ciadh. He makes some great points!
The crowd edit is going well. I’m into a routine of sending out a new chapter pdf every Monday (The draft chapter also goes up on Wattpad) and I continue to get great feedback. The book is reading and looking a lot better.
Meanwhile, I continue to ink up the illustrations.
This is the treehouse I always wanted to have as a kid:
The last time I learnt any grammar was when I was about 15. I am sure I have forgotten a lot, but I’m also sure that there are things I’ve never known. Like how to punctuate dialogue. This week, I had a little exchange with two of my FAB Friends regarding the following line in FAB Club:
“Ssssshhhh! Don’t tell them that, or they’ll want some. Can you keep a secret?” Asked Jake.
My friend, John, suggested, “You’ve capitalised the A of Asked and I think it should be lower case.”
I wasn’t sure (I had actually changed the sentence for clarity after it had been edited) and put the question to my friend, Jane, who is also much better with grammar than me. She replied,
“The A should not be capitalised because the question mark relates to the reported speech and is contained within the speech marks. It’s non-terminal punctuation rather than terminal so the question mark is not followed by a capital.”
Jane also pointed out that I had a possum run out in front of the bus, but the bus collected a corner shop A-board. I had written the first draft with an English audience in mind and had drawn a squirrel, but you don’t find them in Australia and NZ, so I had changed it to a possum. Australia and New Zealand (and the US) have possums, but they have dairies rather than corner shops. Oops.
Some of my friends are reading the book with kids in the sample age range (8-12). I’ve had some lovely feedback.
Comments from Jackson:
* The pictures are GREAT!
* I would like to keep reading the story because it’s interesting and the pictures make it appealing
* I like the characters. My favourite is the mini bully – Ivan. He’s funny. I also like Ruth and Jake. Jake is different to normal characters and doesn’t care what others think of him. I like Ruth because she is a tomboy and she likes bike riding and doing tricks.
And Ciadh’s first reaction was “as good as David Walliams”
I love this crowd edit. And my friends.
I’m publishing FAB Club myself and I don’t have a huge budget, but editing is vital. It’s one of the differences between a professional-looking book and an amateur one. It’s also important because the book’s audience is 8-12 year old kids and:
a. they need to be able to read the book and
b. parents, librarians, teachers etc. need to know that the book isn’t full of grammatical, or factual errors.
For the copy editing, I used FirstEditing.com. I was able to upload a sample and get it edited for free. I was really impressed with the results and was glad that the editor who had worked on the sample (Toni Palombi) was able to do the whole book. She turned it around in a few days. It took me longer to go through all her changes, as she was very thorough. My blogging/emailing bad habits (too many dashes & ellipsis’s, use of the passive voice, over-long sentences…) were undone.
That took care of the grammar, but I wanted the book to be beta-tested before it was finalised. That’s where the crowd edit comes in. I have reached out to friends I thought might be able to help and the response has been fantastic. I got great feedback on how the first chapter read to kids, how certain things didn’t work (like the use of the word “tomboy”, or words that were too complicated, or the fact that G force is singular) and also some tips on formatting in InDesign (which I have taught myself, with a lot to learn).
All in all, it is shaping up to be a much better book because of it.
I’ve been watching lots of videos about how to set up a book in InDesign. The best are from Lynda.com (there are a lot of them on YouTube). I’ve picked 6 x 9 inch size for the paperback, as it is used by Createspace for books of this kind.
The biggest pain so far is getting the text to wrap properly around the pictures. I’ll worry about that more after the editing is finished. I’m using FirstEditing.com for my copy-editing and my friends for general review. Let me know if you want to join in the crowd-edit and I’ll send you the pdfs!
I’m drawing the final illustrations for the Friends Against Bullying book with a fountain pen, using Noodlers ink, on layout paper. The paper is translucent and lets me trace over the rough pencil drawings. This means I can work quickly and keep a nice, loose line.
The other great thing about this paper is that it is way cheaper than the heavyweight cartridge, or lightweight Bristol, which I use for my Arctic Circle comic strips.
Here are a couple of illustrations from the first chapter:
The next job is to start laying it out in Adobe InDesign.
I’m planning on publishing the book when I get back to New Zealand and want to make the book more representative of Kiwis. I’ve decided to make Trevor of Polynesian heritage.
Trevor is one of my favourite characters, as he is a big guy, with a good heart, who redeems himself at the end to help FAB.
Here is the revised line-up of the Friends Against Bullies… and the bullies.