Friday, March 17, 2006

Goofy Little Post

Because Blogger is acting up and I want to see if this clears it out . . . Today was not nearly as productive as yesterday, but I did write an editorial letter on a picture book and finish typing up the handwritten parts of my plot talk, so some things have been accomplished. Plus I went for a run today, the first time in nearly a month, and it felt terrific. And I am listening to the Killers' "Mr. Brightside" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone"; I know the rest of the world discovered these songs last year, but I just heard them in the last month, and yeah. A lot of headbanging going on in the Brooklyn Arden offices these days.

"Mechanicals" are typeset and designed pages for a book, by the way. So when I referred to "picture book mechanicals" below, those would be the rough-draft layouts for the pages of a picture book, with the art scanned in and text positioned on the page. The production staff checks the mechs to see that the text, art, and all necessary factual information (price, ISBN, Library of Congress information) are present and correct, and then I review the pages for less tangible considerations -- "Is this font in tune with the style of the art?" or "What if we put this line of text up here in the tree branches rather than down on the ground?" and even, since we're finally seeing the full-color art together with the text: "Oh, we ought to cut that line describing the green coat since Grandpa's obviously wearing a green coat. I'll write the author and ask." Etc. We usually go through three passes of mechanicals as we incorporate text corrections, tweak the design, and generally refine the books into the beautiful objects readers hold in their hands in the end.


  1. Well, you're blog's back up and running again . . . though the "Goofy Little Post" ended up being three goofy little posts. :-)

    Music is a wonderful thing, and it seems you can find a musical selection for every mood these days . . . though I'm even further behind the scene than you are. I have young kids so I mostly listen to their music . . . you know Ittsy Bittsy Spider, etc.

    Anyway, glad your blog is up again.

  2. I love hearing the behind-the-scenes details of publishing. Especially with picturebooks, all the fine-tuning must be exhausting. At what point do you step back and say, "Enough's enough. I'm not tweaking anything else"?

    - Jay

  3. It's like any other creative endeavor -- you reach a point where everyone has done their most thoughtful work to the very best of their abilities, and so everything about the the book is *right* -- there's nothing else to think about or change. And then you let it go to the manufacturing department, and in three months, hey presto! You have a book.

  4. Interestingly, this is the same process we used to get our actual kids, though we didn't come up with the "manufacturing department" euphemism. Like your books, they turned out perfectly. In fact, if any of you would like to borrow them for a weekend so you can see for yourselves, please get in touch.

  5. Thanks Cheryl, for the peek backstage. I do all my own prepress and usually I think of it as the equivalent of Aegean stall mucking or algebra worksheets. I will try to think of it more as refining and burning off the dross to make something really fine.

    Think “beautiful object in reader's hands... "