MY EDITOR SENT ME A NOTE yesterday.
Just two words.
He didn’t use an exclamation point. Enlightened writers and editors rarely do. Exclamation points are reserved for yelling. This was not a yeller’s “Good heavens.” It was more of an eyebrow raiser’s “Good heavens.”
We are wrapping up a book that is due off the press in August. The designer is putting the final touches on it and we are tying off the loose ends.
In the chaotic process, I took a few minutes to go through the PDF copy of the book to count the pictures.
If you count the images I have embedded inside illustrated maps, this book of about 225 pages will have about 345 pictures.
One of the loose ends I’m working on at the moment is rounding up the last of the art as well as the art release forms this particular publisher is requesting.
Typically I get permission through email exchanges. But this publisher wants signed release forms. That’s sometimes a little bit hard to get because the legalese in these forms scares off some people. I do my best to interpret the legalese for the skittish artists and photographers, explaining that all we’re trying to do is get the permission to use their work in this particular book for as long as this book remains on sale.
Which I hope is a long time.
It’s a fair amount of work to find the art in the first place.
It’s even tougher to create the art, which is what I have to do with the maps. Some of those maps are huge: more than a gigabyte each. That’s because I often use many layers of different types of maps I create to blend them into one attractive map. At least I think they’re attractive.
When I turn a book project over to an editor, it’s usually a bit overwhelming for them.
- A huge digital stack of art.
- Lots and lots of detailed instructions.
It generally takes me a year to produce a book like this. Some people who have never done anything like this wonder why it takes so long. Other people who have done this kind of thing wonder how I can do all this myself in such a short time. When I did freelance work for Reader’s Digest Books we had a team of writers, designers, and editors working on one book like this over the stretch of 2 to 3 years.
I’m afraid I can’t do these books in a year full of 40-hour work weeks.
Now that the kids are gone from the home, my wife works night shift as a nurse, and it’s just me and Buddy the Dog most evenings, I generally work well into the night. Pushing 10 or 12 hours. If I hit 9 o’clock at night I get upset with myself.
Long hours are a reality for those of us who are self-employed. It’s partly because we know that if we don’t do it, it won’t get done. And it’s partly because we love what we do and we have great bosses.
Pictures are the time killer. Paintings, photos, and maps. Finding them or creating the maps gobbles up an embarrassing amount of time. On rare occasions I can spend an entire day looking for one particular photo, and end up finding it with the photographer in Pakistan or Jamaica or the Netherlands.
One map can take me several days to create. And sometimes when I’m done, I don’t like it. So I don’t use it. That’s a bummer.
Some people in the industry shake their heads and wonder why I spend so much time doing this when most Bible reference books are just a collection of words. Even some of the editors and designers I’ve worked with over the years have said I go overboard with maps and pictures.
Maybe so. But here’s something I’ve noticed about the teachings of Jesus in the Bible.
They are pictures.
Stories about a good Shepherd who goes hunting for a lost sheep. Or about a father who welcomes home his prodigal son. Or about a Samaritan helping a Jew who has been mugged – a story that today would probably translate into a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip helping an injured and dying Israeli settler.
Jesus probably had a lot of other teachings that didn’t make it into the Bible. The teachings people remembered well enough to pass along are the stories he told.
We remember Jesus to a great extent because of the pictures he left with us.
I want people to remember my books that way, too – by the pictures they see that help them understand and remember the ideas that fill the Bible.
Random book winner this week
I give away one free book a week to a randomly selected subscriber to my free blog and quarterly newsletter.
Renee’ is random this week.