You can find out where you can Pre-Order Rubin's book here: http://www.rubinpingk.
How to Finish a Book in 20 days
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013. My birthday, and the first time in 12 years I didn’t have a full-time job. Like responsible adults, Congress had shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act, leaving federal employees home and out of work.
As a federal employee, I spent my birthday furloughed from my job without pay*. Nobody knew then how long the furlough would last. A day? A few days?
Since January 1st, 2010, I had kept a daily drawing habit (a habit I still keep, 2,068 days and counting). I had collected hundreds and hundreds of sketches, many of them ideas for picture books, graphic novels, and web comics.
Back to 2013.
Not knowing how long I would be out of work, I decided to turn those sketches into a book. With 9 hours of newfound free time every day, I first needed to find a project I could finish in a short amount of time.
Like Goldilocks (minus the locks), I sifted through my ideas. Too long. Too short. No good. Not in the mood.
Finally, I found a sketch showing an army of scratchily drawn ninjas chasing Santa Claus. In my mind, the design would be simple: Brushed inky lines with 4 flat colors. Eureka! I had found the book I would finish.
I’ll be honest. At that time, I didn’t know what a picture book dummy was. My sights were set on finishing a book. A whole book. Also, I didn’t know that most picture books were 32 pages or less. Armed with naiveté and too much time, I set to work.
After 20 days of toil and effort** (and a growing concern that I may never work again), I had a fully illustrated 54 page story. Somewhere in New York, my future agent Carrie Hannigan was sharpening a hatchet.
That 54 page monster would eventually become my 40 page picture book, Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas.
After facing rejection, some small acclaim, landing an agent, and finally selling the book to Simon & Schuster (the author’s equivalent of “yadda yadda yadda”), I now have a book about to hit shelves September 22nd, 2015.
And it all started 2,068 days ago.
Did I finish a book in 20 days? No. It started 1,389 days prior with the decision to draw and write every day. By drawing every day, it was not a herculean effort to start a new project. I simply slotted my goal into the drawing time I was going to spend anyway. When Congress put me out of a job for three weeks, I had the foundation (sketches, notes) to finish a book faster than I normally would have.
My advice for finishing a picture book dummy (or anything, really): Daily effort over time. And until you sell the thing, keep it simple. Be reckless. Have fun. Good luck!
See you on the shelves.
** While I finished my first version of Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas in 20 days or so, Simon & Schuster (the lovely Kristin Ostby and Chloe Foglia) spent months and months refining the product with me.
Rubin Pingk is an author/illustrator living the small town life in Clinton, UT with his wife, two rowdy boys, and a scheming cat (RIP Humphrey Bogart, the formerly peckish pug). Rubin’s first book, Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas, drops September 22nd, 2015 online and in bookstores everywhere and is currently available for pre-order.
Pre Order Samurai Santa: http://www.rubinpingk.
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Start working on larger drawings today. Drawings can still be loose, but should be much bigger than your thumbnails. I like to do a two-page spread on copy paper. You might want to go bigger or smaller, but be sure to get started now!