Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On doing everything myself

Don't try this at home. 

I strongly recommend that you hire professionals for aspects of your book project that you're not trained to do. Like cover design, illustrations, and video trailer. There are people better qualified than yourself who deserve to be paid for a job well done.

But wait... Didn't I just do everything myself? 

Oh, geez, sorry... I did. Not only did I write my book, but I designed my own cover, made my own websites and blogs, and most precariously, I produced and illustrated my book's video trailer. Yikes!

But this is why.

I'm a MOM. It might seem counterintuitive, and yes a couple of friends said, "Why don't you hire someone to do this work for you?" But wait. The fact is, I am a proponent of supporting freelance artists and have always gone out of my way to hire creative people and pay them a fat wage. 

For my book trailer, I even contacted several illustrators and animators for, but guess what? They all bailed on me someway. (I'm putting it nicely). A couple laughed as soon as they heard the term "book trailer" and were eager to hang up. Another few were polite but just flakey to the point of unviability. Yet others showed interest but I could feel that collaboration was doomed because they couldn't get their mind wrapped around the concept of a book trailer. I had a terrible gut feeling. 

Because getting an excellent collaborative work done requires lots of communication, and did I mention that I'm a MOM? And I'm living in rural Bavaria, where creative professionals are certainly not located. If there's one thing that a baby won't let you do, it's make a phone call. Or skype in peace and quiet. So, without enough babysitting help to be able to communicate my ideas to artists, I knew that any collaboration would not only be expensive, but simply not good. 

So, even though I had zero experience in drawing, my gut feeling was greatly relieved when I decided to do my entire trailer myself. I had no idea how much work it was going to be, but at least I had total flexibility to carve away at it in my own time, when baby napped, which was a different time and duration every day. And I was fascinated by the process of figuring out how to make my characters pop out with expression.

Working on a graphic project also gave me a creative outlet that I couldn't have as a writer with a small child. Good writing requires headspace, lots of it. You need lots of quiet time to make sure that several pages flow together. But with a baby? Haha, nope. Graphic work, however, is possible. Because instead of reading through 5 pages of text, you literally get the whole picture in one glance. Moving a pixel here or there, adjusting a color, or changing a character's expression can be done 10 minutes at a time.

Wanna know how much I sucked at drawing just last year? Watch this trailer sketch:

But with enough mental planning, I managed to put together some graphics myself that looked more professional:

I used two programs: Adobe Illustrator and Autodesk Sketchbook. And I used a Wacom tablet.

In all, with mother-in-law coming to babysit on 2 weekends per month, it took me about one half year to complete this. With no child, I could have finished much sooner. But anyway, here's the final result. Feel free to share it, thanks!

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