Steve Downing • Creative Director
Two’s company – Children’s book
BRANDING • DESIGN • MARKETING • illustration
They say everyone has a good book inside them. Maybe an amazing story, crazy exploits or just something really cool that you feel people will like. Two’s Company is mine.
I have always read a lot and have a vast collection of sporting autobiographies. I have seen so many people either fail or be successful at publishing their own projects. It seems such an easy task to simply gather one’s thoughts, add some images or illustrate the book and hey presto, you’re a New York Times best seller before you know it! Well, the reality is something completely different…
I’m very lucky. I am blessed to have an amazing wife of almost 22 years and 2 amazing kids that collectively and in so many ways are my complete world. In 2008 we moved from the United Kingdom to New Jersey, USA. A monumental shift in lifestyle, friends, job, everything! After 5 or 6 years in our new home my daughter began trying to convince me to get a puppy. I was adamant, nope, not gonna happen. I grew up with 3 dogs and always remember them being a royal pain. Anyone that has a daughter will appreciate that eventually their persuasive techniques, (I’m sure learnt from their mothers) will turn you 180 and eventually you give in.
More alike than we think
So there begins this story. Bailey, a fun, playful Golden Doodle arrived in the May of 2013 just before my 40th birthday. He became a fantastic addition to our family. Along the way of training him in various things, I am constantly reminded of the similarities of bringing up a young baby and a crazy, full of energy puppy! How food is very similarly exploded across the kitchen or the ‘fun’ of toilet training. Those first steps or bath time where I find myself soaked from head to toe and water everywhere. Who would have thought how many similarities there are with raising both a little boy and a little puppy!
Putting it to paper
Those experiences started the creative juices flowing. Having been a keen artist/cartoonist from a young age, I thought it would be cool to put some of my ideas and sketches together and hopefully write and illustrate a book.
So where do you start?
Well the first thing was to caricature my son, Cameron and my dog Bailey, or ‘Sir Bailes’ as he is more commonly known. The process was easy for my boy. I sketched a cartoon of him in pencil, inked it in and scanned and colored the illustration in photoshop with numerous layers. The end result seemed to work. Bailes was a little more complicated and time consuming. His coat being half poodle is very curly and to show this in an illustration takes some work. So with the help of my wife , we start to write short poems to accompany the illustrations. We soon realized the number of similarities of both characters and how well this collated into a really unique kids illustrated book.
We live in an era of smartphones and we often asked each other as parents, at what age do we allow our daughter to have an iPhone? Will it be 10, 11…? What is an acceptable age? I dread to think what age that is now, probably 7 or 8! So the idea was perfect. I’m creating something old school but combining a digital influence at the same time. Sketches, inked and colored up on the Mac! A piece of work destined to become a hardback book that kids and parents can read. Who knows, hopefully one day my kids read it to my grandkids. Wouldn’t that be something!
A year in the making
I spent copious hours sketching all the scenarios in the book around my usual work day. In total, the project took 12 months. After a lot of research on YouTube and Google, I purchased my own ISBN number for self-publishing. I then used the Amazon platform for publishing your own book. It was daunting at first but the important advice that I watched online gave me a true understanding of what is involved. I also learned potential pitfalls, copyright issues if you don’t purchase your own ISBN number and many other risks of self-publishing I had no idea of. It was all really helpful in getting to the final stage of publishing ‘the book’. The feedback from friends and family was inspiring and really encouraged me to keep going with the project and finally get it completed and printed.
Getting it out there
You have to submit the book in PDF format for Amazon to review. This process takes about a week. Amazon then sets up the digital/Kindle version ready for sale. You first have to determine a price based on similar genres and get it approved before it can officially be sold. We did that, priced it accordingly and now the book is live! I have to say, it’s a great feeling to create something from an initial concept right through to publishing. I didn’t do this to be a New York best seller. I didn’t do it for the money, it was just an idea that I thought would be something really positive and if I sell one book and that book is the book my grandkids read in time I will be really happy.
Check Two’s Company on its very own website,www.sirbailestales.com. If you like the look of it, click the link to Amazon and go buy a copy. It’s great to read to your kids or grandkids to help get them off whatever device they seem to be glued to these days. I miss those bedtimes. Reading to your kids is so fulfilling. It is a very small window in your life and is something to cherish forever. Sadly something that seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye, never to be repeated. That makes the memories even more valuable and this book even more meaningful.
I have plans for more ‘Bailes Tales’ in the near future. Look out for them on Amazon at some point in the future!