Book Planning and a New Bird

I am rapidly accumulating lots and lots of bits of paper. And half-finished cups of tea.

I was originally working on using Amazon’s self-publishing (Kindle Direct Publishing) facility but as my book really needs to be printed – it’s a logbook so you record your sightings – and it needs to be smaller than the format Amazon offers. In addition, it’s wholly about British birds, so not really going to benefit from Amazon’s global reach. Also, I would far rather work with people and printers as this is my first ever book project. Well I say that:

This was my contribution to the bird field guide genre, aged 6. About the superfluous appendages: I liked drawing legs, what can I say…

So, I am now going for a 11 x 14cm format, which is the same as a Moleskine Pocket Notebook which meant changing a lot of the font sizes and margins. I do now feel this is the correct size even though the table is now really quite small; I will have just Date and Notes rather than Location too.

I am now debating whether I should have a centre spread. The books will be folded and stapled so I can have a double page across the two middle pages. I’ve been working on a 32 page flatplan but I am thinking of upping this to 36 to allow for a different spread but not lose too many birds. It’s amazing how many pages are taken up by covers and blanks etc so the book doesn’t feel crowded, but if I have 36 pages I can utilise that space for something like silhouettes of flying birds, or a master ticklist, or females, or even a sort of painterly ‘scene’ with the birds in situ, a bit like this one on page 10 of my Usborne Naturetrail Omnibus:

I have to be careful that I don’t get too ambitious though; it’s going to take a long time to get all the books sorted out as it is, without giving myself the task of creating a new piece of artwork but then again I have learned a lot about gouache since painting the twigs and buds, so perhaps I will give it a go and see how I get on. They would make good prints too.

Speaking of new artwork, I wanted to get away from a screen and do some painting. I have quite a few birds I need to catch up with, so I’ve been scrolling through Insta to find some good captures. I have said a previous post that my paints are getting rather tired and dried out, but the black and white I have are fairly new, plus they are the large (37ml) tubes which always last longer. I want to do a book of black and white birds so I decided to paint a pied wagtail. I used a photo from Kevin Morris @morris_dancer73 and tried my new paper from Jackson’s Art Supplies 300gsm Not watercolour paper which took the paint well I must say.

It’s a slightly chubbier version of Kevin’s bird but it was great to be painting again. The beauty of monochromatic painting is that I don’t need to rely on daylight for the colours. I do have a daylight lamp but if I use it in the evening I can’t sleep!

As far as the book goes, I will continue to finalise my flatplan now I’ve given myself an extra 4 pages, or 2 pages and a centre spread. I also need to contact printers to investigate the process before I finalise what I’m going to do.


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