I recently completed my latest customized children’s book, Truman’s Terrific Truck. Why I chose to call it that when “terrific” is one of those words I simply can’t spell on my own is beyond me. But, thanks to spellcheck and auto-correct, I managed to make it through the entire process.
When I produce these books, I’m not working from a template. I know you can order books where they’ll add a kids name and a couple of details — maybe the city where they live, or the name of their school, but everyone gets the same story. I don’t do this.
I send out a detailed questionnaire to anyone requesting a book. I want to know a lot about the child who will be receiving it … likes, dislikes, pets, friends, favorites, heroes, hobbies. What should definitely be included? What should absolutely be excluded?
Then I craft a story for the child based on the information I get back. So the book isn’t just a generic story with the kid’s name randomly sprinkled in. It’s about him or her. It contains details about their lives, their interests, and their activities. The other characters in the book are people they know.
I also request photos so when I do the illustrations, the child can (hopefully) recognize him/herself. I admit I’m a much better writer than an artist. But at least your kid with a mop of brown curls won’t be represented by someone with a blonde buzz-cut when the final copy is printed and delivered.
And speaking of printing and delivery, the end product is a full-color, hardbound book … indistinguishable from anything you’d order from Amazon or buy at Barnes & Noble. Maybe it’s just seeing my work all fancied up and in print, but I’m always impressed with the quality of the deliverable.
Depending on the length of the book and the number of illustrations, one of these books can easily take upwards of 80-hours to complete. But creating them is a labor of love and it gives me a great deal of satisfaction. My goal is to have the “Me” book be the child’s favorite story and for the parent to feel that buying it was money well spent. I want it to be the book that is saved and remembered when other childhood stories are long forgotten.
I don’t much talk about the details and recipients of each book. I don’t sign a contract or an NDA with the client, and although I put a lot of myself into each one, ultimately the stories are not mine. They belong to the people for whom I wrote them. Sharing too much about them just feels wrong.
I realize this post probably sounds like the blog equivalent of an infomercial (a blogfomercial?) for my custom book writing service, and that isn’t my intention. I’m just a bit proud of Truman’s Terrific Truck and wanted to share the accomplishment. I can only hope Truman enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it for him.