An Alphabet of Place

Our book is finally finished and published and for sale!! Lots of people decry social media, but without it Sharon (https://ladderranch.blog) and I wouldn’t have known about each other, and this project wouldn’t have happened. For me it was a chance to do something that was a little artistically risky and to learn something new about myself and abilities. I enjoyed it so much, and it was a wonderful thing to work on over the past few months.

The book is a collection of brief essays and anecdotes about life and history in this little-known part of Wyoming/Colorado. The stories are funny, beautiful and heartfelt.

A couple years ago my editor suggested I go into business as a book designer. I said, “Huh?”

She said, “Yeah. You’re good at it.”

“I am?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. I wasn’t so sure. When I began judging for the contest I saw some books that had been enormously expensive productions, including their designs. Some indie authors spend more money than (IMO) they are likely to earn on designing their book. I’ve read/evaluated some gorgeous productions that are, in and of themselves, unreadable. Some of the best books (content) are the simplest productions. The truism is actually true: you can’t judge a book by its cover but, at the same time, the winners are almost always well designed AND worth reading.

Once in a while a book is blindingly beautiful. There was more than one this go-around.

My editor — Beth Bruno — is an amazing woman. I don’t know how she manages to get along with all the authors who go to her with their work and then don’t want to hear what she had to say or who question every correction/suggestion she makes. She told me it’s common that she’ll (and she’s tactful and gentle) suggest an edit or correction and be challenged by the author. Authors can be defensive and when it comes to grammar? It’s amazing how territorial writers can be. I said to her, “Well, you make suggestions and corrections all the time. I figure I can take them or leave them. It’s not like you’re my boss.”

“Exactly,” she said.

“It’s not like you’re grading my work or something.”

I privately thought, “English teachers do a lot of damage,” but having BEEN one I thought I should keep that to myself. Grammar and punctuation are NOT writing.

So, part way into the illustration part of the job I had the realization (duh) that my work was going into a book and suddenly I wanted to be part of how the book came out. I didn’t know how much experience the writer had with book design and it turned out not much and godnose my price was right, so I undertook the task of designing the book. It was at least as much fun as doing the illustrations. I’d definitely take on a project like this again if the person I was working with were as awesome a partner as Sharon and their project something I believed in as much as I believed in this one.

26 thoughts on “An Alphabet of Place

  1. I am so happy for you. The love you felt for this project shone through in your posts. Congratulations to you and Sharon on a wonderful book.

  2. Glady to see the book is now available! Anxious to get a copy and read it! LF

    • Thank you, Becky! It was a great project and I really benefitted from the moral support everyone gave me here when I wasn’t sure what I was doing!

  3. WOW! You did it! This is fantastic (2 exclamation points is enough, but I was tempted…). Illustrator and designer. Sweet photo of you on the back too. Major points for social media 😊 bringing you and the author together to create this book. Congratulations on a very cool collaboration.

  4. A very nice job! And I can sympathize with your editor. When I first started writing I was very defensive about my work. I have learned a few things along the way. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you!

      I can feel defensive, too. I think it’s natural. I think some of that depends on how the criticism is delivered. There is really a time and a place, and probably a way. I’m most defensive when it is delivered inappropriately, when there’s a bigger picture.

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