Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's All About Presentation

This                         or                            this? 

I know I wouldn't want to eat #1 if #2 was an option. 

This                        or                       this? 

I don't care if #2 is a single cookie, I'd pick that over #1 any day.

This                            or                               this? 

 I suppose this one depends on if you are at a job interview to be a lawyer or... a peacock?

It's all about presentation.

My four year old said (read: yelled) to me this morning, "Mom! you forgot my backpack. And my water bottle!" I calmly informed her that we had not discussed bringing her backpack today (because she had nothing to carry) and why in heaven's name would I assume she needed her water bottle?
To which she responded, "Because you're my maaaa-ahm" dripping with as much attitude and consternation as a four-year-old can possibly muster.

This lead to a discussion that I like to call:
It's all about presentation.

If she would have said "Mom, my backpack is at home and I really wanted it today." I may have responded with something like, "oh sweetie, that is too bad. We'll remember to bring it tomorrow." In short, it would have gone way better and not invoked mild forms of irrational rage where all I wanted to do was yell " NUH UH, YOU FORGOT YOUR STUPID, UGLY BACKPACK!!!" which clearly, would have gotten me nowhere.

(This is not the actual ugly backpack.)

skill #437: 
As a conversator, (the party of the first part) never start by blaming 
the conversatee (the party of the second part) for something they had no 
way of knowing they did wrong.

You've all been here - maybe not with four-year-olds who are learning basic communication skills, but it happens all the time.  Your boss, holding a custard filled doughnut, comes over to your desk in the morning and says, 
        "Hey what you said in the meeting yesterday about (insert seemingly brilliant idea here), yeah, that's never going to work and you shouldn't spend any more time on it. You should really run these things by me before embarrassing yourself like that."
And then takes a bite of the doughnut.

But if he would have brought two doughnuts and said,
        "You clearly put a lot of time into that (seemingly brilliant idea) however I'm not sure this is the best time to implement it.  Let's put it on the back burner for now and meet later this afternoon to discuss any other ideas you may have.  Here have a doughnut." He then hands you the doughnut and together you each take a bite of your yummy, yummy breakfast.

See? Even if you know he's lying through his teeth and he hates your stupid backpack, I mean idea, and is just trying to smooth things over so you don't quit. It's still much better because: 
It's all about presentation.

In life and in books.

Creating a consistent message across your book pages goes a long way when adults are deciding which kid books to pick up for the first second, and third time. 

Let me say that again: Adults decide which kid books to read. It sucks, I know. When it comes to first impressions, adults are now and always will be, your main audience.

If there are too many or too few words on a page, or worse - the words are hard to see in a dimly lit room at bedtime, (I'm talking to you Margaret Wise Brown) you are inadvertently creating a negative reading experience. If you pictures don't enhance your story or after six (out of seven) pages the princes is still trying to decide which dress to wear, you are creating a negative reading experience. Although it should go without saying, that is the last thing you want when creating the book. 
If your book is creating a negative experience, your book is not ready to be published.   Please take the extra time and make it better.  

Some things that matter:
  • An interesting, relevant title
  • Cover layout
  • Page layout (busyness of illustrations vs text)
  • Text color and size
  • Illustration content should enhance text
Unfortunately there is not one right way to do any of the things on this list, but there are many, many wrong ways. 

To all you parents searching for good books, and all you writers hoping to make their search a little easier, I wish you luck. 

May you only get and give pretty presents from here on out. 
And when you make spaghetti, a little green garnish and some French bread goes a long way. 

Thanks for reading

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