Monday, January 30, 2012

Why Most Books Have Rectangular Pages

Yes, this is the cover of my new book due to come out in June, and the book is rectangular - just like most books. Why this shape?

• Print off and cut out the ‘animal skin’ (below) from paper. You can enlarge it to any size you wish – or just imagine it’s been cut out.

• Trim off the remains of its legs, neck and tail to give the largest possible rectangle of skin to be made into pages.

• Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise, then in half again and again at right angles to make a group of pages.

Yes it’s the cow’s fault!

Books were written on paper or skin from 1000AD onwards until skin became too expensive and not available in sufficient quantity. However, for a few centuries, even though writing and printing on paper was performed, the most ‘important’ books were always written on pages made of skin. Some books and documents are still written on skin.

Only in recent times have square and landscape format books been published or produced. For nearly two thousand years, books were always rectangular and ‘portrait’ – hinged on the long side.

Today, many books are printed with 8 pages to a side of large sheets of paper, which are then folded to make a gathering and sewn with others, and then trimmed perfectly to construct a book block ready for covering.

This method was used for the earliest books, too - folding sheets of vellum in half, then centrally at right angles, then in half again. Vellum (parchment means the same thing), made from cow or calf skin, was expensive in early times, so book creators always wanted to get the optimum number of pages from one hide, with no waste. When the remains of the neck, leg and tail had been removed, and the sides trimmed straight, the shape that remained for use was a rectangle, so the pages formed by folding were rectangular – and the tradition continued.

This method of folding was replicated for books with paper pages, and the sheets of paper were made in the same proportions as animal skins – and still are. Though no early instructions for folding have been found, study of ancient books from the first century AD onwards proves that this was the standard method of production. All medieval vellum books, without exception, had facing pages alternately ‘hair side together’ then ‘flesh side together’, no matter if they were precious or scruffily written and bound with little care. The same when paper was used, ‘wire marks from the mold (on which the paper was formed)/watermark sides’ together alternated with ‘non-embossed sides’ together.

You can test the outcome for yourself, similarly folding a sheet of paper that is printed on one side only. Facing pages are always the same, and alternate plain and printed – but the nature of the outer surfaces depends on whether you make the first fold with the printing facing you, or the plain side. There were traditions for vellum use. From the late Roman Empire and the Greek Orthodox world, the outer surfaces were flesh side, and this was revived in fifteenth century Italy for non-religious texts. But for the rest of Europe, from the pre-Carolingian to high Gothic periods, the first and last sides of the vellum were always hair side.

Skins were not always folded to make 8 pages (16 sides) in a gathering. In Spain, in particular, enormous 'antiphonal' vellum choir books were produced in the 16th century. I have a single page from one of them:

Antiphonal Page

This one measures 85cm x 55cm.

Some books were smaller than a matchbox. This is the smallest one that I own. It was written in 1460:

A vellum page from a Book of Hours

As well as from cow and calf hides, vellum was also made from sheep, deer, goat, rabbit and squirrel skins – in monasteries, probably the remains of whatever was served for dinner – but these other animals all produced a rectangular sheet for folding, too, and therefore rectangular pages.

There are a few large sheets of vellum in existence that show that pages were sometimes written prior to folding, as a book would be printed today, but it’s uncertain how many early books were created in this way. Illuminations in manuscripts depict monks writing in folded sections and complete books. One scribe was responsible for writing a complete gathering, but multiple gatherings could be written by multiple scribes.

Just in case monks lost the plot of which page to write where on a large sheet, prior to folding, it’s thought the folding was usually done first, the front (fore-edge) slit through, and the folds along the short edge cut but leaving just enough remaining to hold the gathering together but still allow the scribe to turn the pages.

By the 15th century, at the latest, stationers were selling pre-folded and ruled gatherings of vellum and paper, ready for writing.

When I do school visits and workshops, students and attendees can handle these vellum pages and many more items from my collection. It can bring history and books alive - please check out the 'Visits' page on my Writing For Children website, and the 'History of Books'.

Peter Taylor

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Contract Winning Line for the Bologna and London Book Fairs, and possibly others

The purpose and focus of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and London Book Fair, and probably other big ones, too, is the negotiation of the sale of 'rights' of books already published or about to be released, and other deals. Hundreds of publishers from around the world display the latest additions to their ranges, and members of their teams sit at tables at each stand and negotiate with other publishers' and industry representitives.

Our Australian Publishers Association also has spaces for Australian publishing professionals to do business, but in 2010, when I visited, at Bologna it also hosted an exhibition of the work of Australian illustrators, curated by Ann James and Ann Haddon. Individual illustrator attendees were allocated time on this stand, too, to show off their skills. This is me:

The evening APA dinner allows creators and publishing people to interact and get to know each other better. Check to see how your country’s stand representatives can help you.

Many countries’ stands host a ‘party’ at the end of one day. These parties are found by passers-by as well as invitees. Whereas many folk arrive only for the free food and alcohol, it is also possible to make useful contacts at them and get to know publishing professionals better. Special thanks to the APA and Amanda Vanstone for the wonderful spread put on by Australia, and also to those involved with the Italian party and...

It was wonderful for me to be absorbed into the world of international children’s books and their creators. One of my aims was to survey and gain an appreciation of the books currently being released by a large number of international publishers, especially those with which I was unfamiliar. Although this can be done through online catalogues, at a Fair you can easily see the house style of layout and content, and there were books displayed that will never get to the shelves of Australian stores. I was fascinated by the distinctive regional illustration and design styles used by publishers in some countries. The printed catalogues I collected had to be sorted and culled when it was time to weigh the suitcase.

Before arriving at the Fair, most publishing people will already have booked a full week of half-hour appointments. ‘Gate-keepers’ on some stands only allow entry to those with appointments. This stand belongs to the always wonderful Walker Books:

It may just be possible that an appointment can be made by your agent or publisher for you to promote your already published book to an individual (if you’re lucky), but this is really their job.

A large number of stands have open access and no gate-keepers. With those, I actually found it quite easy to meet and talk to publishers - particularly those producing non-fiction. After initially spying from afar, as soon as an appointment finished and the next person had not yet arrived, I casually walked up to the shelves to look at the books on display. Not knowing if I was a publisher or agent, I was often asked what I was looking at, and why.

Proudly wearing my SCBWI name badge from the Bologna Symposium, my line was, “I’m an Australian author and occasional illustrator, and I’m looking to see if you have any titles that are likely to compete with my new book about to be released - and also to see if there are any gaps in your list that I might be able to fill.”

That was always a good starting point for a conversation and I’d usually be asked what I write. They all wanted to know what was going to compete with their books! I think that coming from a distance is an advantage – it’s a bit different for them to meet someone from Down-Under. As well as fiction, I write about paper crafts, science and natural history, so I came away with names of people who will be delighted to receive proposals from me for books on lettering, decorative borders, the sea shore, fungi, cute furry animals and more. While some stands are manned by sales force members, many have powerful people present, such as the Associate Publisher and Managing Director – or even the company founder.

A similar line could be used by those who are unpublished: “I’m just completing a proposal for a book and I’m looking to see if you have any new titles that would be likely to compete with the contents I have in mind - and also to see if there are any gaps in your list that I might be able to fill.”

It’s easy to leave a business card or flier at every stand - the gate-keepers being happy to discuss the most appropriate person they should pass things to. I didn’t try pitching fiction, but in retrospect, I could have asked at each stand to find out if the publisher was open to submissions and who would be the most appropriate person to send work to. They may even have chatted and I could have tempted interest with a good ‘hook’ line or 'sound bite'.

Advice from the website suggests that illustrators contact specific publishers prior to the Bologna Fair and ask if it is possible to make an appointment with an editor or art director. Bring labelled samples to give them. Large sized portfolios are discouraged.

Some publishers (particularly Italian and French ones) advertise a time when illustrators without appointments can briefly show an art director their portfolio and hand over a print. On each occasion, the queue is long. I carried my A3 portfolio in a bag, and having introduced myself and gathered interest in the subject of my then forthcoming new book, I showed artwork used for images that appear in it (...and they readily looked at more), and I left them with a flier.

Going to the Symposium and Fairs was claimable for me as a tax deduction as professional development and research. It is also possible that you may be able to get a grant, perhaps from your regional Arts body, to cover at least some of your expenses.

From Bologna, I travelled to the UK to do research for my YA in progress and also to attend the London Book Fair in Earls Court, and the London Digital Conference. The London Book Fair is similar to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in many ways, mainly being geared to publishers selling rights. A large corner is devoted to over 100 children’s book publishers. Some had not exhibited at Bologna. As well as the myriad of publishers of books for adults and technical works, the LBF also has stands taken by distributors, printers, illustrator agencies, digital converters, print on demand book services, apps sellers, digital rights negotiators, digital reading devices, remainder vendors and others – along with more parties and a free massage service.

At both Bologna and the London Book Fair, there is a continuous program of talks, seminars and interviews with authors, illustrators and publishing professionals - with translators.

I continued to try the same spiel at the London Book Fair as the one I used in Bologna and found swag of other publishers keen to receive proposals on non-fiction topics we discussed. The first proposal sent out resulted in a contract for the book that I’ve just completed for a UK publisher, ready to be released worldwide in June 2012 – ‘Calligraphy for Greetings Cards and Scrapbooking’ for GMC publications.

Deals are not guaranteed, but I’ve proven that they are possible.

Through I even found cheap London accommodation in York House, a converted elegant old terrace house backing on to Earls Court – nothing like The Ritz inside, but clean and all that was needed: 7 nights for 405GBP, with microwave and hotplate cooking facilities.

I believe you will thoroughly enjoy the experience of attending the SCBWI Symposium, Bologna Fiere, the London Book Fair or any of the other big book Fairs if you have the opportunity, and you find them useful. And it doesn’t have to break the bank. I have to admit, however, that I did spend a significant amount on freighting home the catalogues, books and other things I just had to buy while on my trip.

Peter Taylor

Making a Favourable Impression - Networking in 20 Stages

There are some authors and illustrators whose work is in constant high demand and publishers are always eager to receive their next idea. Having a track record of moneymaking successful books is a big plus, but what other factors make a publisher want to work with an author or illustrator?

Obviously, talent is one criterion, and possibly the ability and willingness to help promote books – but there is no doubt that publishers like and prefer to work with ‘nice people’.

‘Nice people’ are open to suggestions from editors and discuss these amiably.

Nice people deliver work on time, every time – even better, long before deadlines.

Nice people are helpful and they don’t phone every day to check on progress.

Nice people respond promptly to requests and are courteous – they are friends.

Let’s suppose that an editor receives and likes stories or book ideas from two different unpublished creators, but can only has room on their list to publish one of them. If one writer or illustrator is someone the editor thinks would probably be ‘nice person’ to work with, and the other is unknown, whose book is most likely to get published?

So, how do you get a good reputation and an unfair advantage before you’ve had a book published?

1. Write. Learn your craft as best you can. Complete something – even if it still needs improvement.

2. Have some totally professional looking business cards printed – not things with streaks and perforated edges. Dress professionally. Look and behave like a professional.

3. Create a website or maintain a blog, or both, and consider producing a newsletter on any topic that interests you. The latter is not essential, but if you have a lot of happy subscribers/readers it can be advantageous.

4. Contribute to Yahoo and similar forums on writing for children and learn from them. Keep all your posts positive. Never criticise a publisher or editor anywhere on the internet – your comments can be found.

5. I never talk about a book’s rejections - not by name, anyway. If a publisher reads these (and they might!) they’ll have pre-conceived negative feelings about it when they receive it for consideration “...It’s done the rounds and nobody likes it – so I probably won’t either”.

6. Go to book launches, meetings and festivals and take opportunities to meet other creators of the same standing as yourself and with a positive outlook – you’ll become a ‘family force’ and be able to help and inspire each other.

7. Listen to people around you at events. Ask questions – people like to know you’re interested in them and to talk about themselves (but you’ll probably avoid people who ramble on and on, so don’t you ramble on, either. When you speak, have a pre-rehearsed and interesting short and snappy ‘elevator pitch’ describing what you write about, or your latest work in progress or finished story, to tempt further conversation and enquiry.)

8. If you meet or are introduced to well published creators, realise that they probably have friends around them that they like talking to. Don’t barge in or be pushy – they are probably tired of people wanting to get something out of them. Just try to come over as a natural and genuine person. But you can offer to promote their work on your blog – become a helpful friend in any way you can think of - with no immediate ulterior motive. Later, they may give you advice on work of your own. ‘What goes around, comes around’. (See 1 – make sure you have something to talk about.). But have no expectation.

9. Connecting meaningfully with one or two people for a significant amount of time is probably more useful that flitting around trying to network with everyone present at an event.

10. Research presenters at conferences that you will attend. Gain industry knowledge and do research on the internet, by visiting bookstores, reading and examining books in libraries to discover what each publishing house is currently publishing, and who the key personnel are – the editor, art director, publisher ...even the sales reps. Yes, the sales reps have a say at meetings that are held to decide which books get published. Find out who has been involved in the production of books that have won recent awards. Congratulating people is always a good conversation starter. You will be recognised as someone who is professionally involved in the industry.

11. Discover where these people hang out professionally – Facebook, LinkedIn, SCBWI Conferences etcc. Listen, to start with. Learn a little about them and their hobbies, and their partners and children.

12. Be helpful. Contribute to forums the ‘important people’ frequent. Your writing will be read. They will form an opinion of your writing skill before your ms hits their table or you meet face to face. They will already ‘know’ you ...however you portray yourself.

13. When attending a conference or talk, try to ask a sensible question that many people are likely to want answered. Start by standing up so you can be seen and give your name. You will be remembered if you later meet face to face, and by other attendees.

14. Using your research, when you meet an ‘important person’, you can start with something personal – “How’s the house renovation going? Did you find time for much surfing this year – what are your favourite spots?” Many editors appreciate a break from people asking about publishing. But have your ‘elevator pitch’ or ‘sound bite’ ready in case you’re asked what you are writing – and after replying, ask if you may send it to the person when it’s completed/been given one more edit and tweak. If they seem very friendly, you can then smile and ask if you can be cheeky and put ‘Requested’ on the envelope and in the cover letter, or if you should just send it for adding to the pile. Give them a business card – they may visit your website. Having your photo on the card may remind them whose it is and encourage a visit (Make sure your site/blog is worth visiting ...memo to self – mine needs an update.)

15. NEVER EVER try to give an agent or editor a manuscript at an event – it’s incredibly unprofessional’ll be remembered for the wrong reason, and editors and agents talk socially to each other, even if their businesses compete.

16. NEVER EVER send gifts or imagined spin-off merchandise with a story.

17. Can you imagine being an editor or agent at an event, with a stream of unknown people coming at you from all directions and introducing themself, hour after hour? It’s not surprising that they like to talk to those people they know well. You’re likely to get a much more relaxed reception if one of their friends can introduce you (see 8) – especially if they can say “Hi Mary, I’d like you to meet my friend Jackie. She’s takes a lot of natural history photos, just like you do.” ...and you’ll immediately have a connection. It will be a relief for them to talk to you.

18. It may well be the case that the person has a full list of clients or is not accepting any more manuscripts at this time, or not in your genre. It doesn’t matter! See 15 – industry professionals talk to each other. Be a nice person. Comment on their Facebook page. If you share a common interest, once or twice a year (not every week!), send a postcard of a surfing spot you’ve enjoyed if you are both surfers, and say “You’d like it here!”. Keep in touch ...gently. If you are an illustrator and the person has children, send each child a small picture – not a full-scale artwork that’s taken a month to produce and an obvious bribe to make the person feel indebted to you. If you meet at another event, they may introduce you to one of their own friends in the industry, or you may produce something more suited to their requirements in months or years down the track.

19. After an event, thank people – even if you didn’t meet them. “Many thanks for all your organisation of the YYY event – it was most useful.” “Many thanks for coming to the YYY event and all the insider info that you shared.” Or if you did meet: “I really appreciate the time you spent talking to me at YYY and the ‘top tips’ you gave us all. The place I was telling you about is called ‘Mandy’s Point’. I’ve enclosed a photo. I hope our paths cross again.”

20. Briefly mention your connection in a cover letter for your story manuscript:

Dear Ms Person,

Thank you for your most useful talk at the YYY event and answering my question about word counts. It was wonderful to meet and chat socially afterwards.

The enclosed 600 word story has been written for children aged 3-5...

I hope you will be recognised as a ‘nice person’ ...someone who is ‘normal’, professional, friendly but not pushy, creepy or overly generous, someone easy to talk to, someone who listens and is likely to understand what is required if asked to do something or consider making changes, someone who is unlikely to be demanding or shout down the phone, who appears efficient and is likely to make deadlines, someone it will probably be a pleasure to work with for book after book after book.

I hope you will produce many books that are successful for publishers and for yourself.

Peter Taylor

Monday, January 23, 2012

Coincidences - Part 1

Edmund Kean was a famous early 19th century English actor. My great grandfather was a collector of theatre memorabilia, and I have inherited this hand coloured and autographed print. I think it shows Kean playing Richard III.

Somehow, I can work it into my creative YA biography in progress. But what a coincidence to discover, when I dropped some unwanted items into in a suburban Lifeline charity shop in Brisbane, that they had a copy of Raymond FitzSimons’ book 'Edmund Kean – Fire from Heaven' pub. Hamish Hamilton, 1976. I don’t think it would ever have been a best seller in Brisbane and I imagine there'd be very few copies in the whole of Australia, but will be mighty useful to me. And it’s a most interesting and readable book, too! I could have chosen any of so many other charity shops, or just walked out without looking...

There have been so many other coincidences in my life that an art director once suggested I compile a book. Have you experienced any?

Peter Taylor

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Inspiration for Writing

I’m told that I’m a hoarder, and I can’t deny that I love collecting things – particularly small things. As I told Sarah Davis, illustrator of Anna Branford’s ‘Violet Mackerel’ books, and she posted on her blog, I started when I was a child by asking friends and relatives if they had anything small that they could let me have for my ‘museum’, which was a special drawer. They gave me some amazing things – but since then, I’ve also bought items. I’m always surprised how little you have to pay for some ancient objects either in stores or through online auction sites. For less than $15, I bought a 4th century Roman stylus that was used to write on wax tablets (wax-lined trays) by ...well, who do you think?

After a message was received in a tablet, the flat end of the stylus was used to burnish the wax surface so that it could be written on again - recycled wax.

Putting such an object into a child’s hand, or that of an adult, can be a powerful inspiration for the imagination. I can do that at workshops and presentations, but why don’t schools develop their own collections? I’m sure children and parents would be pleased to be involved in fundraising for such a purpose.

This is an Elizabeth I half groat, first used by someone between 1558 and 1603. What could you have used it to shop for, or pay for, at that time? Under what circumstances might you have received it?

On my Writing for Children website, you’ll find many more workshop ideas on the ‘Visits’ page.

Peter Taylor

Water Keeps the Words Flowing

Fellow Brisbane writer and author of children's books, Sheryl Gwyther, posts lots of good advice and interesting topics for discussion on her blog. A few of us chimed in to reply on today’s topic – ‘Write Garbage and Edit Brilliantly’.

At the end of her comment, Kaz Delaney said that proximity to water gets her into the writing zone - “Sitting by it, walking by it, watching it, showering in it, swimming in it.”

I’m the same. My computer keyboard position allows me to look out through large glass doors to my tiny fishpond, garden and the park over the road.

Sure, I’m distracted when the magpies come down each morning for a dip to wash their feathers, but my output is seriously diminished if all I can see are walls and furniture. I have never written anything sensible when sitting at our kitchen table. Sometimes I can get the creative juices flowing curled up in back-breaking position in a comfy armchair, but I still like to be able to glance out of a window.

Though I do tap away at the computer to write, that’s not always the case. Often, the action of handwriting helps the words to flow, too. It’s so much easier to pour emotion into drawn letters and words in the same way that body language and gestures aid verbally telling a story.

Do you have places at home where you prefer to write, or cannot write? Do you get your best ideas in the shower? You can write in pencil on laminate in the rain or in a shower if you really want to, you know - maybe even underwater.

Peter Taylor

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Poem for Australia Day

Raise your glasses to Australia -

Its forests, surf and sun,

Music, art and bar-b-ques,

Its sport and having fun.

Raise them to its people -

Mates and those not met -

Folk from many nations

Who've come to work and set

This country above others:

Prosperous, friendly, fair -

A land of peace and harmony

(True wealth beyond compare).

Although our kin weren't born here

Our hearts have found their home

In towns and in the Outback -

No matter where we roam.

On Australia Day let's celebrate,

Aborigines as well,

This land with power mysterious

That holds us in its spell.

Peter E Taylor 2010

I was born in England, have lived in Australia for 25 years and know that if I ever reside anywhere else, I will always want to return to Australia. I love its people from all backgrounds. Mateship. Simple pleasures. Creative talents. Aspirations and caring. But it is a spiritual as well as physical home. I hope I am not alone in feeling that it is really ‘the power of the land to claim us as its own’ that we celebrate on Australia Day – the power of Earth Mother ownership of us that Aboriginal people have appreciated for thousands of years.

While I understand thoughts of Australia Day celebrating British settlement will offend those of Aboriginal descent who reflect upon unsavory and negative experiences settlement has heaped on individuals, tribes and cultures, as far as I understand, the first celebrations were in fact recognition by transported convicts, ex convicts and early settlers that they were delighted to be Australian. That they belonged to the land.

Is it therefore possible that we whose forefathers were born overseas and people with Aboriginal ancestry can celebrate our attachment to the land, as one, on Australia Day?

If the land owns us, and not the other way round; if we believe the land is important and influential in our lives, we obviously have a duty to treasure and protect it. Our children have to feel attachment. Will those in cities who spend their childhood days permanently wired to games consoles or computers develop the same love of the land as those who experience dirt between their toes? Will they grow to feel ‘as Australian’?

There is a high probability that those who were born afar but have happy memories of childhood, teenage and early adult years exploring the countryside and/or city alleyways at night as well as in the daytime, in the land of their birth, will always feel some attachment to that place. This is possibly why many Australians choose to maintain dual Nationality. How many Australians of mature years, who were born here and have similar memories, could move to India and call themselves truly ‘Indian’, or to Japan and declare themselves ‘Japanese’ after a short number of years, if ever?

With councils’ focus on building rather that preserving what tiny remnants of bushland exist for childen to explore in cities and towns; with our love of safe, crack and litigation free walking and cycling tracks through parks; our insistence that creek-beds and sides are sterile and concreted instead of encouraging connection with the soil and nature, I fear we do our children and Australia a disservice. Creativity enhanced and inspired by adventure is minimized. If there is a single place in our country where, through fear, we would be reluctant for our children to play or explore unsupervised for hours at any time, we have a right to expect at least attempted remedial action. Without fighting for and ensuring freedom to fully experience and become part our land, we diminish the nature of Australia.

Can this Australia Day, therefore, be a united celebration of the land to an extent that government agencies, as well as individuals, will pour every effort into caring for our environment, and enhancing freedom and safety for all in our beloved nation?

Peter Taylor

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The number '4'

Yes, it’s another new start. This really is the year of the blog. Well that’s the plan! Something for adults wanting to create books for children, and something for children who like to write, draw and be creative.

It’s pretty obvious last year was a write off for blogging for me – but not for book writing. GMC Publications, in the UK, is just putting the final touches to ‘Calligraphy for Greetings Cards and Scrapbooking’ and should send it to the printer on January 24. It will be out in June. Yipee! It was a very time consuming project – but I’m delighted with the colour proofs I’ve been sent.

Next project: This one’s for charity and organised by . uTales allows authors and illustrators to use their enhancement tools to create and sell  books with basic animations without charge. A percentage of profits go to, a very worthy charity that helps communities in the developing world to establish schools and libraries. A group of creators are now collaborating to produce one spread each of an alphabet book, and a counting book, for which all profits will go to Pencils of Promise. I’ve composed the verse for the number ‘4’ and the wonderful Anil Tortop will illustrate it. I’m finding it incredibly hard to wait to see how she interprets it. I may write the words in calligraphy, if there’s room. We’ll see. I’ll let you peep when it’s done.

Four green frogs with big googly eyes
Eating wiggly worms and crispy crunchy flies
This one's for me, and here's one for you -
A special one for Mummy, and my Daddy, too.
Four full frogs with big googly eyes
And fat froggy tummies - just look at their size!

Special thanks to my ‘think-tank’ friends who helped refine the choice of words!

If you’d like to draw pictures yourself to go with the words, and send them as images, I’ll add them to this blog and to my website – Peter (at) You could print out the words first and draw the frogs around them to make a picture or poster. Or you could imagine it was for an open 2 page spread in a book, and if you want to, have some lines of the verse on one page and some on the other, splitting them up as you like.

Book illustrators usually start by making rough sketches of where everything might fit. They try lots of ideas and then work more on the one they like best. One big wide picture could be drawn for a double page spread with a background to cover the whole area, but no important drawings where the words will be positioned. The words are usually created on a transparent layer that a computer can arrange over the top of the picture. This allows new replacement words to be used if the book gets published in a foreign country.