On Wednesdays this fall, I’m sharing the process of creating my recently-published book Ick! Delightfully Disgusting Animals Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses step-by-step. (To learn about the whole process in one sitting or to share an age-appropriate version with your students, check out this new resource on my website.)
If I’d been planning to write a picture book, I would have started writing my rough draft at this point, but because I’d collected so much great information about icky animals, I decided to write three 48-page books for middle grade readers—one called Disgusting Dinners, one called Disgusting Dwellings, and one called Disgusting Defenses. Since the books would have the same design and text characteristics, I thought I’d be able to sell the series with a proposal.
As you can see, my proposal included ideas about what the books would physically look like, a description of the content, an outline, a list of all the animals I’d include, and three writing samples.
Here you can see the writing sample for the black-backed jackal. At this point, I envisioned a main text with two additional text features—a fast fact and a stat stack.
National Geographic loved the idea, but they wanted one 112-page book instead of three 48-page books. They also wanted a larger trim size and a lot more text on each page. I developed some ideas for additional sections , including Extra Ick! and a Critter Challenge math riddle, and submitted a revised writing sample, which they approved.
Why don’t you see those Critter Challenge sidebars in the final book? Eventually, we decided to cut them all.