So I was feeling pretty good. I had finished all of the art and all of the writing for my book and turned it in to the publisher. The publisher then assigned a new editor to the book ( I took so long to complete the book that my original editor had quit and moved on) and discussions about the cover and title and interior formatting began. My original vision was that the creatures would be separated by chapters according to their classification (mammals, aquatics, reptiles and mystical) but the publisher wanted them to be classified by continental location and they wanted the book to have more of a narrative structure to tie it all together (Both good ideas but more work for me!).
As a result, I created scientist Ham Fabricatini (Fabricate, get it?) who had allegedly researched all of these creatures and enlisted me to illustrated his notes and put them into book form. The story was set up in the Introduction I wrote for the book and the theme carried out in the extra journal entries I wrote for each chapter. Because the creatures were now identified geographically (something I hadn’t originally intended) I had to do extensive rewrites on some of the them so they would all fit into the new format. A lot of extra work but I think it did make the book stronger.
By earlier agreement I was also obligated to write a “how to” chapter in the book. Watson Guptil’s bread and butter was/is “how to” books and they just couldn’t seem to allow a book to be published that didn’t include an element of this. Although, I thought it was somewhat inappropriate for this type of project, I wrote the “how to” chapter anyway and figured at least it would be a nice addition for someone who was really interested in the art and how it was created ( I know as a kid, I would have loved a “how to” section in every art book I bought).
Unfortunately, that “how to” chapter started the problems (at least from my end). The publisher came back with a title for the book: Fantastical Creatures Field Guide. Certainly not as funny or clever as my original idea but I could live with it. After all, the book was a field guide. But then they wanted to add the subtitle, “how to hunt them down and draw them where they live”. WHAT?! I argued that the subtitle was misleading. This was not a “how to” book! People looking for a “how to” book would not buy it once they found out it was not actually a “how to” book and people looking for a fantasy or humor book wouldn’t pick it up thinking it was a “how to” book. By incorrectly promoting the book we were running the risk of dooming the project to poor sales (John Carter movie, anyone?) Of course, my logical arguments fell on deaf ears. After all, what could a first time author possibly know about marketing?
Then came the book cover……