I’m delighted that Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo has been shortlisted for the brand new Booktrust Best Book Awards! Congratulations to everyone who’s made the shortlist. It’s so exciting that the monsters are doing so well, especially as a percentage of royalties from the book is supporting a wonderful charity, Tommys. And as the emails and tweets of congratulations fly around, there’s a reminder of something very important: a book, especially a picture book, is a TEAM EFFORT.
The book might start in my head as an idea and I write the story down…but it doesn’t end there. Everyone has a part to play. My lovely agent, Julia Churchill, is the first port of call and she offers advice, whether that’s editorial or where and how it should be sent. It’s because she believes in the story that it is sent on its way into the big, wide world. It’s wonderful to have another opinion on the story as sometimes it’s hard to distance yourself from the work.
Then it reaches the editor at a publishing house. The work of a good editor is invaluable and can help tone the story in certain places or give suggestions for layout. And of course, the editor helps match the text with the perfect illustrator.
Without an illustrator, there’s no doubt a picture book would be somewhat less interesting, as well as not exactly living up to its name! The illustrator brings the story to life in a way that I could never do. I’m not the world’s most talented artist so I’m always very grateful when an illustrator loves my book and runs with it, to create something bigger and better than I could have visually imagined. When I look at the roughs that come through from the illustrator, I’m always absolutely amazed and delighted by the detail and the imagination which bursts off the page.
And then there’s the design team, who work with the illustrator and the editorial team to bring out the best from the illustrator and shape the layout of the book. Someone commented to me at a nursery visit a couple of days ago how they loved the word layout of Do Not Enter the Monster Zoo and appreciated the thought that had gone into that.
And don’t forget all the work that the publicity team put in, championing the book and raising its profile.
So when the announcement is made that a book has been shortlisted for a book prize, it’s an opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the process of making this book happen, at whatever stage along the way. And I hope as many as possible will be able to come along to the award ceremony and celebrate what we have achieved. Cheers!