Mr. Tree Goes DownCreated: 2022-11-15
Mr. Tree Goes Down is my first book to see print. This is very exciting.
Content Warning: Chainsaws, garbage trucks, legally and morally ambiguous science, birds, insects, and stump horror.
My copies arrived!
This is exciting. :-)
Based on a true story!
We had a tree that was not growing very well in the front yard and we chopped it down, just like in this story. I drew the original Mr. Tree story on a folded packet of printer paper with a pencil while sitting on the patio watching my daughter play in the back yard.
It was 2017 and I had recently established a daily sketchbooking habit. So I thought, "Why not? Why shouldn’t I make some real illustrations for this silly story?" So I did. I produced one watercolor drawing every night for a month.
At some point during the month of watercolors, it occurred to me that I might actually get the book printed. But at the time, it looked like was going to be very expensive to have even a small run of books printed.
Actually making it into a book
Early this year, Julie Strietelmeier of The Gadgeteer (the-gadgeteer.com) mentioned using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to make books. So I decided this was it: this year I would get Mr. Tree into print!
I took new pictures of my original sketchbook pages on the back porch on a cloudy day and started piecing it together. Getting the book assembled and "published" on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) (kdp.amazon.com) took about a month of nights and weekends, though I bet I could do it in half that time now.
I’m really glad I opted to buy a proof print of the book before I hit the "Publish" button since it revealed a number of flaws that I was not seeing on the screen - including the flow of the story when read aloud from a physical copy of the book!
The physical print proof:
It was so exciting to get the book proof in the mail. The gray band across the cover says "Not for Resale", but the insides are otherwise untouched.
One thing I couldn’t have known from the screen previews, but which was immediately apparent from the print was that the cover image (a tight crop of Mr. Tree’s goofy face from the first page’s illustration) was too low resolution. So I re-photographed that part of the sketchbook page in two chunks (the image flows onto the back cover) and stitched it together in GIMP as one wide image. If you compare this cover with the final cover at the top of this page, you’ll see that I opted to crop it a little differently as well.
I’m really happy with the "premium" color print and paper I chose for my KDP paperback. It’s actually much better than most of the thin, square-format children’s books I was trying to emulate from my childhood (funny how nostalgia will always make them seem better, though).
It’s very cool that KDP lets you specify custom "trim" sizes (the book is trimmed after it is printed) at no extra cost. A square page and full bleed images is what I had originally imagined. Even if nobody else ever buys this, I’m delighted to be able to have this in the house and read it to my kids!
You can read more about my book-making process and the free software I used here:
Thanks for visiting!