The books arrive!

Mr Coconut’s books are here. Finally made it through customs in Southampton and dumped unceremoniously in a big pallet outside the studio.

So now we have 1000 copies of the book stored away. Next job: to sort them all out and package them all up for all our Kickstarter backers and for those who have pre-ordered the book…

This is going to take us a couple of weeks – our expected date for delivery for anyone who pre-ordered the book is still December 13. If you’d like to you can of course come and receive your copy in person from us at our book launch stall at Brighton Open Market on the day of Saturday 13 December. If you can’t make that we will be sending out all the other rewards so that they arrives as soon after the 13 December as possible.

And in the meantime the two of us shall be visiting some shops to see if we can persuade anyone to stock it, as well as making the ebook version to be sold online.

And if anyone still wants to pre-order the book at the cheaper price, that will only be available until 12 December…

Next update: the book launch

Boring bureaucratic Mr Coconut update…

Delivery date of the book is here! Here’s all the books stored in the studio:

Except instead they are in a shed in Southampton. Customs is witholding them until they know that we are a legal entity as a publisher. Which we were not, until we realised this was something we needed to do 3 days ago…

We’re told if we apply to customs for an EORI number and we get it by Monday they will send out the books then.

So – books should be arriving Tuesday or Wednesday next week. They we can get them all nice and packaged up, ready for the book launch on 13 December and sending them out to all of you. Despite the delay – you’ll definitely have them for Christmas, we absolutely promise…

Advance copies arrive… & our market stall book launch

So this is a day we’ve been waiting for in trepidation for a few weeks now. Our advance copies of the book have arrived. Here’s the package, not yet opened.

The nerve-wracking part is that we were not able to see an example proof before the printers went ahead and did the whole print run. When a large publisher prints a full-colour book such as this, they get proofs ahead of the actual print-run, and the chance to change the colours and correct tiny mistakes. An expensive extra step, which is fine if you’re printing thousands of copies, but which would have added loads to our costs. We just sent some test prints to the printers, asked them to match the colours to those, and then crossed our fingers.

So if, when we open these, the colours are all wrong, that’s tough. Because there are another 994 of them on their way to us, on a boat somewhere right now.

Okay. 3… 2… 1…

They’re okay! Thank god… the colours look great, as good as we could have expected. (If they hadn’t been that might have been the end of this post whilst I went off to weep in the corner).

Here’s Catherine and Mr C having the first read…

So now you’ve had a first glimpse of the cover. Here’s a proper look:

But that’s all you’re going to see. We don’t want to spoil the surprise of the actual book. If you want to see the whole book I’m afraid you’re going to just have to pre-order one.

The other exciting piece of Mr C news is that we have arranged a book launch: we are having a stall in Brighton’s refurbished Open Market on Saturday 13 December. We’re going to decorate the stall with all the props we used to make the book, and Mr Coconut himself will be there – inside the actual coconut where he lives, naturally. (His puppet that we used to make the book will make an appearance as well.)

If you live in or near Brighton and can make it to the Open Market that day, we’d be delighted to see you, and show you some of how we made the book. And introduce you to Mr Coconut himself. We’ll have a big stack of books for sale if you’d like one.

Mr Coconut book has gone to print…

So the last couple of weeks of the summer have been spent tweaking the last few bits and pieces of the book. I’m sure when anyone makes a book they get the finished article back and find loads of tiny bits wrong with it, that no one else would ever notice… but the problem is that we notice, and can’t bear the idea of finding lots of tiny mistakes.

Here’s us rebuilding one of the last-page scenes for the fourth time…

But we’ve finally happy with it… and today we sent it off to print! What we would have liked to show is a photo of us is packing all the artwork into a box and sending it off to be photographed. But instead we have a photo of us pressing a button to email the PDF files.

It takes nine weeks to print, so we should have finished books back at the end of November. So in the meantime we’ll be making the book plates, postcards, stitched illustrations, pants and everything else we need to make for the rewards for our Kickstarter backers.

Next update should be to let you know the date that it’s officially published – we’re hoping to have a launch in Brighton, so for any of you that live nearby can come and pick up your copy in person…

Studio visit #3

So last Friday we had the third of our studio visits from Kickstarter backers. This time from Chris’ parents, so naturally we roped them in to doing more than we usually asked of studio visitors.

We’re down to solving the last few problematic pages, one of which is the sky for one of the final spreads. Here’s Chris’ mum sewing multiple stars for our third attempt at a sky:

And here’s Chris’ dad building more of the cityscape. We weren’t just sitting back drinking tea, honest:

And then we made them both hold up the stars for ages whilst we photographed them (sorry Mum, rather obscured you out of this photo):

So thanks very much to my mum and dad for their help. With these pages just about complete we are almost there – the next couple of weeks will be spent tweaking. We’re hoping to get the files sent off to the printers a week earlier than planned, which means the book will hopefully be sent out to backers a week early.

[Next update should be: files off to the printers…]

Studio visit #2

A couple of weeks ago we had the second studio visit from one of our backers, Stuart, himself a toymaker. Stuart helped us remake one of the landscapes for the book, and also build the props for the last page of the book: a 3D coconut cityscape. But as we were discussing the best way to go about this Stuart suggested a more interesting way of building and lighting the city. So we, er, well we left him to it.

This is been the best part of making the book: as well as the increased amount of ideas we have had from collaborating together, many of the ideas have been prompted through conversations with other members of the studio and our studio visitors. It’s made us realise how much easier it is to generate ideas when you have people from whom you can immediately get a reaction, and to know almost immediately whether ideas are going to work or not.

And it makes the whole idea of sitting down and writing on your own seem a bit boring now…

Many thanks to Stuart for his help and ideas – you can see some of his own toys and artwork here.

[stage book is at now: all the blank pages are now illustrated… now time for tweaking.]

Studio visits and the boring parts of making a book…

So in the weeks since our last Mr Coconut update about the here’s what has been happening:

A couple of weeks ago we had Elizabeth visit us in the studio for a day as part of the Self-Publishers Kickstarter reward – she helped with the photography for one of the book’s illustrations, patiently blowing snow into Mr C’s face with a fan whilst we photographed him in a snowstorm. Unfortunately we forgot to take any photographs, though Elizabeth more efficiently took some herself. Which means this is now a photograph of us rather than her, which is a bit of a shame.

We have also organised the boring parts of making a book. We bought the ISBN barcode (some great info on the process for buying ISBNs on Christopher Shevlin’s blog about self-publishing… in fact all his self-publishing posts are very useful) so that the book is catalogued for the shops and online, and have finalised the schedule with the printers. We now know we need to have all the artwork finished by 19 September, in order to receive the books back on 10 December.

Which isn’t, er, quite by the time we promised on Kickstarter, as we said we would send the books out for the end of November. We must apologise for that – the printing is taking slightly longer than the first estimate we were given. If we can bring the schedule forward we will. But we promise that anyone who pre-orders the book will have it in time for Christmas (Christmas 2014, that is).

We’ve also finished the cover. I was going to post it up here to show you, but Catherine won’t let me, she says it should be a surprise.

More on the second of our studio visits soon…

A short video of how we put one page’s illustration together…

So as a slightly different update on the progress of the book we thought we’d make a short video of how we put one of the pages of the Mr Coconut book together…

This is from a stage in the story where Mr C is out for a walk in the coconut countryside…

If you’re new to these updates you can see them all collected here:

A mistake with our mistakes

It was my intention to post a different kind of update on the book’s progress this week: rather than just posting photographs of the progress of prop-making and photography we wanted to put together a short video describing how we put together one of the pages – in other words a succession of mistakes, the trial and error involved in getting to the final result.It’s what I’ve always wanted to see of the work of other people, but isn’t often available – all the rubbish bits at the beginning when the picture isn’t working, through to the point where it starts to work and then it’s finished.

The problem being that, er, the page hasn’t quite reached the stage of being at a point where it was starting to work.

So I’m going to put that update off until next week. In the meantime here’s a montage of a happy accident that took place when we trying to find a way of photographing the sky: we lit the shot far too little from the front, and instead of a daytime sky ended up with a lovely looking nighttime sky.