When we bought the boat (see the boat page) my nephews and niece were quite little children, as were the three girls of the couple in Oregon who co-own the boat. As owners and stewards of this grand new project, we adults were very excited, and were having difficulty in conveying to the aforementioned children just what it was that we were excited about. As you can see by reading some of the other posts on this site, handmade gifts for these children is a long-standing tradition with me. So, I reasoned, I would make a children’s book with the boat as one of the main characters.
The only problem with this plan; is that I am not a writer, and I did not have any kind of plot for a book. Then, while going through some photographs from the summer for inspiration, I was reminded of a short cruise I had done with a friend in Canadian waters. There had been four of us on the cruise: me and the wolf-hybrid who is my constant companion, my then neighbor, and her three month old, black lab puppy, Merlin. We had a lot of fun watching Merlin try to figure things out on the boat, particularly because he was a natural clown. This became the model for the book, Merlin’s view of the boat.
The story was mostly fluff, but nice fluff. I am an illustrator, so putting together some pencil drawings for the book was easy. The layout for the book was done using a book design
program that we use at work, and I printed out a bout a dozen copies of the book, which I then hand-bound as gifts. Aside from the writing and illustrating, I learned a lot about the creative process of making a book. I learned about bookbinding, book design, and layout, folding signatures, glues for book binding, end papers and materials like buckram.
That should have been the end of the tale; however, again through an opportunity at work, I had the chance to put the book in print with a limited print run and decided to go for it. I should emphasize the fact that this was somewhat spontaneous decision, I had no plan for marketing or distribution and simply planned to sell the book out of the back of my truck when the opportunity arose. I will say book signings with dogs were fun.Merlin could always be
counted on to charm a crowd, and we were able to raise some money for some good causes; like the local Humane Society. The Friendship Sloop Society also sold a number of copies, and we have given away a number of copies as thank-you gifts to people who have helped us in some way with the boat.
The project was fun and I learned a lot, particularly about some traditional forms of bookbinding, but publishing a children’s book is financially very risky. Unlike most of the rest of the book market, you are competing with every other good children’s book written and still in print. My little book is fun, but it can’t compete with books like Charlotte’s Web. The book paid for itself and made a tiny bit of money that I put right back into the boat, but the best part of this project was the learning process and creative process of making the book.
You can see this book on Amazon by clicking here.
To see other books that I have illustrated, click here to go to TMC Books.