Editor: IAC alumni Kevin Fletcher-Velasco wrote a children’s book explaining the open adoption process. Below is a guest post from the author with tips and insights he gained along the way:
The adoption community strongly encourages each adoptive family to write down their own adoption story. But where do you start? How do you start? While each family will have their own style to complete their book, below is my approach to help structure the book making process.
Step 1: READ! READ! READ!
A Family for Baby Bear, by Kevin Fletcher-Velasco
Some may think it is odd to read when you are writing a book about your own life, but reading is a critical part of writing. Reading books in the genre and age group you are looking to write in will help you understand what will be involved in the book you are writing. For example, when writing the picture book, A Family for Baby Bear (Now available on Amazon.com), I read several adoption themed picture books including And Tango Makes Three, The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale, The Family Book, and many others that make up our library. By reading these books, I understood that most picture books are between 800-1000 words and usually less than 32 pages (with a few exceptions). I also realized how important the images and the colors were to the book.
Step 2: Write down everything.
Everyone has their own style, but the important thing is to get everything on paper. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, organizing or structuring your thoughts – just put it on paper. Each person will start at a different point in their story and work from there. Go with what feels comfortable. If you have this exciting point that you want to write down first, do it! I always start with the ending. I know where I want my story to end and how to end it. Once the ending is down, then I go to the beginning and where I want my character to start. From there it is just getting from point A to point B through the story.
Step 3: Organize your writing.
Now that everything is on paper, put it in the proper order. It is okay to move things around, play with different words, sentences, and ideas. See how a specific sentence flows in different spots of the story. Maybe moving that exciting scene to just after a sad scene will bring your audience quickly out of a depressing moment into your thrilling new chapter. No author wants a reader to be depressed for too long while reading their book.
Step 4: Proofread, then proofread, and then find friends to proofread.
We, as the writers, are blind to our own errors. It is important that we take a couple hard, detailed looks at our own work to catch what we can, but then to pass it off to a few friends for them to provide feedback. I cannot stress the importance of this step and how often it is overlooked. Do you really want to be reading your fantastic story two years from now and notice that you missed a period or misspelled a word? It will haunt you forever. So take the time to proofread, and get others to proofread. And whatever you do, DO NOT RELY ON SPELL CHECK!
Step 5: Add visuals to your story.
Visuals are big, especially for the younger audience. I have seen books done with illustrations, digital art, photos, or hand drawn stick figures. If the style fits your story, then use it. You don’t even have to do the visuals yourself. I hired an illustrator for my books. It does cost some money, but it can be well worth it to have a professional looking book to share with your family forever. A great website to find hundreds of illustrators in all different styles is freelancer.com. The website allows you to place your project with your targeted budget and illustrators will bid to complete your project.
Step 6: Putting it all together!
Whether you are binding the book on your own or using a printing press, figure out how you want to present the book. Make sure all the pictures and text are in the right order, and that you have an amazing front and back cover. Once your book is put together, the last and most enjoyable thing to do is to sit down with your family and read your completed work.
I wish you all the best in preserving your story for sharing and treasuring for a lifetime!
Kevin Fletcher-Velasco is an adopted father, and Amazon Best Selling author of the award winning, open-adoption themed book, A Family for Baby Bear. He is working on the second installment to the Baby Bear Series, Baby Bear’s Special Day, scheduled to release in 2015. If you would like to learn more about A Family for Baby Bear, or the other upcoming books in the Baby Bear Series, please visit http://www.thebabybearseries.com.