How long does it take you to make a book?

Creating a book from scratch can take some time.

I usually jot out ideas in journals and sketchbooks and will often plot out the entire book writing on loose paper. While doing so, I may add scenes and make adjustments. Along the way, I sketch characters, environments and scenes. This developing stage of a story can take years for me.

Then I begin writing a manuscript. I write out scenes in longhand then type everything into the computer, editing along the way. There isn’t anything glamorous about this aspect of the process—it’s writing, then rewriting—over and over again. I try to refine the prose to speak clearly to a young reader while not losing focus of the original spark of inspiration that got me working on the story in the first place.

This stage can vary greatly in length depending on if I am writing a 500-word picture book or a 70,000-word novel. I may sketch, but there is not a lot of drawing happening during this time. My focus is the manuscript. Generally speaking, I take several months as I work through the various drafts.

Once the writing is edited and with a copy-editor at the publisher, I begin creating the artwork for the book. I like at least 6 months to work on the final images. Bear in mind, that I’ve been sketching throughout the process. So, it is usually years from the spark of an idea until I am looking at the proofs for a finished book. For me, it is a marathon not a sprint.

On picture books, I’ll work on the story for many months refining the plot and simplifying the elements. Once my editor gets a hold of it, it can take several more months of editing and rewrites.

During that time, I’ll begin designing the characters and the initial layouts in preparation for the book dummy. Once the dummy is approved, the final art usually takes about 6 months to complete. I’ll continue to refine the text right up to the moment that the book is sent off to the printer. The whole process takes a little over a year.

For chapter books, the illustrations are less intense than a picture book and usually black & white. I can go from sketch to finished pen & ink art in about 4 months.

For the WondLa books, it took about six months to write the story and another six to create the artwork.

Now, I am at a point where there are stories being worked on that I have labored over for years. I like this, it allows me to rethink and refine the plot and concept without having to rush to meet a deadline. Currently, there are quite a few picture and chapter books in various stages of completion. My goal is to release one book a year.

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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.