Wednesday, 7 October 2020

#IWSG October - Guest Post - Jemima Pett - Chapter Illustrations in books

 Hi all!

For IWSG month, I have another treat for you today. Jemima Pett. 

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!

Illustrations in books (not just picture books) is something I like and as a soon-to-be-self-published author, something I'd like to incorporate in the formatting. I always appreciate it when authors have little chapter graphics and when short stories have an illustration to introduce each story. More work, but worth it. And I have an addiction to castles like Jemima. My Renaissance vampire series has castles all over it!

I've never read a blog post about adding illustrations (not saying that there's been none!) I hope you enjoy the post today and find it helpful if you're like minded.

Over to you, Jemima!

Thank you, Denise. 

It’s an honour to be here today. I may get around to answering the IWSG question of the depends… 

As an author, the question I often get asked is: 

Why do I do chapter illustrations for my books? 

Believe me, most times when I finish editing a book, I ask the same question. I have about 24 chapters, and I have to do illustrations for them, simply because I did in the first book. Talk about a rod for your own back! When I was little, all my favourite books had illustrations of some kind. E H Shephard did the Winnie the Pooh and the Wind in the Willows ones. They add something special to a children’s/middle grade readers’ book. And gives the reader a break! 

The Princelings of the East 

My series, The Princelings of the East, is set in a country very like the UK, but with small communities with castles ruling over them. Inter-castle rivalry is everywhere! 

 I started to take an interest in the design and structure of castles (there are loads in England!), and unearthed a prize I’d won at school which was a children’s Guide to Castles and Cathedrals! My Geography teacher must have been prescient. 

So I wanted to draw these castles as part of the setting for the books. Maybe it helped me not describe them at tedious length. 

What style? 

Wanting to draw something and doing it are two different things. For a start, do you want simple elegance and style like E H Shepherd, or something more draughtsmanlike, for the castles? I ended up somewhere between the two. 

Over the course of the books the illustrations got better, they settled into a certain style, and I learned how to put them into ebooks more efficiently. 

Images in Ebooks - the old days (c2011-12)

Images in ebooks are not straightforward. The Smashwords Style Guide gave me half the information I needed for Kindle books (all I needed for Smashwords, iTunes and the rest). 

  • The key to placing images in your ebook is to paste it into your document as an INLINE IMAGE.  
  • No fancy cropping and wrapping the words round. 
  • Place it between two paragraphs using the inline setting. 

A technical issue which I had with Kindle for years, was that a jpg didn’t work properly. Kindle liked colour jpegs but not black and white. I found this hidden in the KDP help stuff during my third book launch. It liked black and white as GIFs. Since these are also small sized files, it helped the overall size of the ebooks. 

Modern ebooks (2018 onwards) 

I get ebooks with illustrations in them which don’t appreciate the complexity of an ebook file. I read a great book recently which had a shell for all the paragraph splitters. That’s where most people might use a wee graphic in their fiction, I think. 

This book also had some lovely two-page spread pictures. Kindle shows one page at a time. Even my iPad didn’t guarantee to get the whole of the spread on a two-page view, because the left half might be on the right hand page! 

The quality of images that you can use for advanced Kindles, iPads and tablets is far better than it used to be - photo quality in fact. What if your reader is using an older Kindle, like Paperwhite or earlier, or on their phone…? 

But they can handle colour, just maybe not display it.

My process 

Using a pad of reasonable quality drawing paper, and some soft pencils, I’d get an idea for a chapter, and start sketching. Once I was happy, I’d draw in the lines I wanted with a black ink pen. I use a three size set of Pilot Drawing Pens. They’ve been great. 

The next step is to rub out (erase) the pencil sketch. How many times have I forgotten to do that? In some of the illustrations you can see the pencil marks still. 

Then it gets tedious. Scan them in, making sure all the bits from the rubbing out were off the page and the scanner clean…. One at a time. Get them the right size and dots per inch (dpi) in the scanner software. Crop if necessary. And eventually, put them into the MS file in the right place. Crop them again. Reduce the file size… the list seems endless. 

Then there was iPad 

Around 2017 I got an iPad, and an iPen soon after. Like anything new, it takes practice. I gave up trying to do the 8th and 9th book drawings on them. But I did play with illustrations for some shorter stories I’d worked on, and tried out colourised versions of them too. The versions of book 8’s Rannoch Moor chapter worked quite well, I think.


<2 moor="" pics="" rannoch=""> But for the last book in the series, I did them all on the iPad. I hit new snags of course. For ages I could not rub out something I’d done a few days earlier. 

<2 moor="" pics="" rannoch="">Eventually whatever I was doing started to work. I could find them again, and go over them with a different idea. 

<2 moor="" pics="" rannoch="">I started with the same line drawing style, but then I discovered the airbrush effect, so a lot of them had airbrush shadows and clouds. 

<2 moor="" pics="" rannoch="">It really helps when you want to both extend a castle and destroy it later in the plot! Instead of copying the detail by hand, which I did with two views of Vexstein in book 7, now I could just copy the file and erase or draw on top. I did the images in record time, and saved at least two days on the scanning and cropping part of it. 

I’m not an artist 

I think my readers like the drawings. I hope they do. I enjoy doing them, although sometimes I really think my ambition outweighs my ability. Plucking up the courage to do a new version of the inn was hard, but it really, really needed it! 

I’m not an illustrator. I’m a keen amateur painter who has sold a few pictures. I do not want to illustrate someone else’s books. But putting my own mind’s eye onto the page, that has given me great pleasure, both in words and pictures. 

So if you fancy illustrating your own books, don’t be put off. If you think they are good enough, it’s part of the charm of your book that the author has also illustrated. Go for it! 

There. Another thing for Insecure Writers to worry about! 

Jemima Pett 

Jemima Pett has been writing books since she was eight and designing fantasy islands at ten. Not seeing a career in fantasy island design, she went down the science route at school, and ended up in a business career, which was good for writing manuals and memos. Eventually she retrained and went into environmental research, where she could write articles and papers. 

 She started writing fiction because her guinea pigs told her to, and she’s been writing the story they inspired ever since. She also has a biography and a science fiction series to her name. The final book of the Princelings series is Princelings Revolution, released on 1st October. The cover is by a professional illustrator, Dani English at Kanizo Art.

Follow Jemima on her blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads.  

Princelings Revolution 

The planes are crashing, the people are angry at the changes and shortages. King Fred puts democracy to the test and finds it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  There’s an organised anti-monarchy group called the Causists, and they are spreading false information which the people seem to believe. Things are bad—but they are going to get worse… 

Will he even keep his head, let alone the promise made to Lord Mariusz at the start of the whole adventure? 

Buy the paperback or ebook at Amazon, iTunes, B&N, and Kobo.

Add to your Goodreads list.

This guest appearance is part of the Princelings Revolution Launch Tour.  Click the badge to go to the tour list and Giveaway (closes 23rd October).

Thank so much Jemima for appearing today. I'm actually travelling the wide state of Queensland in a caravan (the new cruise ships apparently), so I'll check in when I can.

Here's the badge for GRAVE MISTAKE - courtesy of Olga Godim, WEP's badge maker extraordinaire! Meanwhile, have a great month (and I hope it includes writing something for the WEP October challenge, GRAVE MISTAKE. It's always our biggest meet of the year so bring on those stories or poems!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is really cool you do illustrations in all your books though.

Elephant's Child said...

Echoing Alex.
I am an appreciator rather than a creator, and art is well outside my capabilities. I so understand the making a rod (with sharp points) for my own back though.
Huge congratulations.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I really think it's cool that you illustrate your adult books. I definitely do not draw good enough to do that.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

That is such an awesome way to go, Jemima. And your sketches are so cool! Thanks for sharing your process :-)

Ronel visiting on IWSG day Revamp Your Backlist

Jemima Pett said...

Thanks, Alex. I dither between pride and shame about them, though :)

Jemima Pett said...

Yes, it is definitely a rod, but once I get into it, I enjoy doing them. Weirdly, it seemed to wake my brain up in other ways, too.

Jemima Pett said...

These are nominally for age 10 and over, but I think most of my regular readers are adults, sort of! I didn't attempt to illustrate my adult books, although sometimes I think it might help me visualise the places better.
If you look around illustrated books, you'll see that self-illustrated is usually far more quirky than professionally illustrated. It adds to the charm :)

Jemima Pett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jemima Pett said...

Thanks, Ronel! Much appreciated.

Jemima Pett said...

Thanks for posting this today Denise, and I hope you're enjoying Queensland in your caravan!
Sorry about not answering the IWSG question, but people can always pop over to my place to find out what I thought!

Pat Garcia said...

I didn't know you illustrated all your books. Wonderful. I have three or four of them. I have a children's story that needs illustration but I am not good at drawing.
Wishing you all the best.
Shalom aleichem

L. Diane Wolfe said...

EBooks have come a long way in terms of graphics inside, color or otherwise.

Melissa said...

I love pictures in books. You're very talented!

Toi Thomas said...

I like chapter illustrations and appreciate Jemima sharing her process.

Jemima Pett said...

Only the Princelings books have illustrations, but I did do some for my short stories in the BookElves Anthologies, as well.
You might find someone who draws in the way you like and would like a break if you check out the Inktober hashtag on Twitter this month. They may have a Facebook page too.
All the best to you, as always :)

Jemima Pett said...

They have indeed! Thanks for visiting Denise's blog today :)

Jemima Pett said...

I love pictures in books too - let's start a campaign!
Thanks for visiting, Melissa :)

cleemckenzie said...

I've seen Jemima twice this morning! I love that she's so talented and can do the writing and the illustrations for her books.

Jemima Pett said...

I'm glad you like illustrations, Toi - thanks for your comment.

Jemima Pett said...

Thanks for hounding me around the internet today, Lee :)

Olga Godim said...

Jemima, your post is fascinating. I never considered the complex issues connected with inserting illustrations inside ebooks. I always loved illustrations in children's stories and regretted the fact that most adult paper books traditionally don't include illustrations. I think many adults novels (fantasy and sci-fi and romance) could've benefited from the chapter illustrations.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! Those are cool illustrations. Nice work!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I love the illustrations and great info in the post too!

Fundy Blue said...

I'm with you, Jemima! I love books with illustrations, no matter what age the intended audience is. Learning about your drawing process was fascinating. And inspiring. Thanks for featuring Jemima, Denise.

Jemima Pett said...

I agree, although the difficulties are probably a good reason why they don't - and the cost of a professional illustrator. Yet children's books have a lower price than adult. It doesn't make sense.

Jemima Pett said...

Thanks Tyrean!

Jemima Pett said...

Thanks Lynda!

Jemima Pett said...

Thanks, Louise!

Botanist said...

Thanks for the tips on adding images. I've sometimes been tempted but always put off by the e-book formatting woes.

Jemima Pett said...

You're welcome. It took me hours of heartbreak, so I'm glad to help save others. Trouble is, KDP keeps changing what it wants. I *think* it intends to keep simplifying, but that never actualy makes it easier.

Denise Covey said...

I don’t care about your answering the question. Love your post. The traveling is going well. On our way home today.

A Hundred Quills said...

Jemima is inspiring. Thank you Denise for this piece on illustrations. I've only recently taken a liking to them. I'm doing a Little Girl Series for a campaign presently and I've got my daughter to do the illustrations for it. It's on the blog.
Sonia from

Diane Burton said...

I love your illustrations. You definitely are an artist. Thanks for sharing.

Denise Covey said...

Yes I’ve seen them Sonia. I’m fascinated by illustrations in books.

Jemima Pett said...

Thank you, Sonia. I must look for your series.

Jemima Pett said...

Thanks, Diane!

dolorah said...

I have always loved illustrations and pictures in books. They do enhance the story. Its difficult to add to e-books - good to know you can still get those.

Hi Denise; hope you are enjoying a beautiful beach :)

Maria said...

Olá, bom dia. Eu fiz uma campanha para arrecadar fundos para voltar para minha Terra. Se você puder colaborar clique:
Que Deus te dê em dobro.

Jemima Pett said...

Glad to know I've a fellow illustration-lover!

Gwen Gardner said...

Jemima, I always admire the chapter heading illustrations in books. The extra effort is much appreciated!

Hi Denise, I hope you’re having a great vacation!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Denise and Jemima - thanks for this really thorough walk through for your illustrations - I've always admired them. I'm sure the extra effort is rewarded ... congratulations to you both and see you for WEP - all the best - Hilary

Jemi Fraser said...

Love this!!! So very cool - and something I enjoy in books as well.
I can do basic cartoons, but sketch to this level is beyond me - but now you've made me want to try!!

Jemima Pett said...

Thanks, Gwen!

Jemima Pett said...

Hi Hilary. Thanks for your comments - and Yay! it's only a week till WEP!

Jemima Pett said...

Well, I can't draw cartoons, so you could do something more original than me. And you should see how much mine have changed since the first edition (I dont dare show the original Castle Marsh now!) If you're self-illustrating, you do what you want, really :) Have a go!

Denise Covey said...

It was my pleasure Fundy Blue.

Denise Covey said...

I’m home now Donna. Was a wonderful beachy trip.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Gwen. Was wonderful to get away.

Denise Covey said...

Glad you enjoyed it Hilary. I did. WEP! Yay! I wrote mine in case I ran out of time while on the road.

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