Friday, August 7, 2009

Allyn Johnston - Leave Me Alone With a Latte: One Editor's Picture Book Revision Process

It all starts with Allyn, sitting in a coffee shop, with an illustrator's book dummy and a giant stack of Post-its.

Allyn took us through the dummy revision of Cynthia Rylant and Lauren Stringer's SCARECROW page by page. Allyn writes her editorial comments on the Post-its which then get slapped to the dummy spread they reference.

Allyn showed many examples of Lois Ehlert's books and dummies -- from first sketch to final book. Did you know that Lois Ehlert does elaborate color dummies for each book -- as many as TEN or TWELVE dummies?!? Amazing.

My favorite line from Allyn:

A great example of one of the other roles an editor has it to believe in what you [the author/the illustrator] are doing... [to see that] fragment of your idea and go with you on that...To not panic and be able to ask calm questions...

Which relates to my favorite line from Andrea Welch (who came up to answer questions with Allyn):

Sometimes it is just a tiny sentence in a submission that captures our attention... Two words that make us want to work on something...


  1. Thanks for the overview of the conference, Jamie, I wish I could have been there. I love the way Allyn thinks and works. Those book covers are simply delicious.

  2. Great advice from these two ladies. Thanks.