Creating a Book from Scratch with N0 Experience! Part 2

January 16, 2017

by David Kanellis


About this Article Series:

I’m David, and I’m not an artist. I’m not a writer or a creative professional of any sort. However, in the next year I will be releasing 6 issues of a Comic Book, a Children’s Book, releasing a new Web Comic, and as many collaborative projects as I can. I’m going to do all of this while working full time and spending time with family and friends as well - and I’m going to share with you how you can do the same!

This article series is going to help you understand how to execute your project, and I’m going to entertain you by showing you mine! We get to see the steps I am taking in order to produce something excellent while maintaining my lifestyle!

In case you missed it, here's last week's article: Creating a Book from Scratch with N0 Experience! Part 1



One of the most important elements of executing a successful project is to stay organized. Organization is especially critical in keeping your writing together, as the management of your story is almost as dire as the story itself. If you haven't organized properly, then when it comes time to tell your story, you will be in disarray and you will not deliver the message that you want!

For me, organization is a digital task. Sure, there are some notepads with sketches and things laying about my desk and work space, but the truth is that I don't write anything on paper that I want to save. Paper gets ruined, tossed out, ripped, moved, and anything else. Sure you can take the time to keep your stuff organized in paper form, but it's a lot easier and safer in the cloud!

Backup, backup

Did you know that the average hard drive lasts 4 years? How old is yours?

A cloud storage program can back up your important files, preventing the risk of catastrophe should you lose a hard drive. It's easy (and cheap) to find a proper cloud storage provider! Hours, days, even months of work can be eliminated with a single power surge, so don't get caught without a backup of some sort.

Personally, I use Google Drive. There are plenty of cloud applications out there such as Dropbox. However, with 100GB of free storage, it's hard to beat Google on this one. That being said, there isn't a wrong choice for the most part.

Within my google drive, I keep one folder per project. This is the daddy folder of whatever that project will be, and any media files associated with that project will ultimately fall here. I further break down the project folder into sub-projects. Within the sub-projects, this is where I keep the actual work - such as scripts, comic page files, sketches, notes, storyboards, and anything else you could think of.

Once you have created your file structure, the only thing left to do is FOLLOW IT! I stress this, because too often I've created a structure only to not stick to it and later on become completely messy with the presentation. These days, I have committed myself to ensuring that every time I save a file, I put it in the right place with the right naming convention. This is extremely helpful when it comes time to put together something that you'll be displaying to others, as it will more than likely make sense if you've organized it properly!

The other element of this style of organization is that it is flexible! It only takes a few keystrokes to insert a page or change Page 1 to Page 4. You can always play around with the order of your documents, but this is a surefire way to keep track of what is happening and where.

The naming convention I use for a single page in "Traveler" is: Volume#Issue#Page#-description.

So for My first issue, page 1, would look something like this in storage: "P01V01I01P01-Open on Antag and Victims."

Page 1 of Traveler

Seems messy, but it keeps my files in perfect order and helps me keep track of where I stand at a glance.

That's about it for digital organization. Your project will dictate specifics like how many folders or subfolders, what your naming convention will be, and other details - but the main point is that you must be disciplined in how you are saving your files to ensure that you maintain order and safely keep your files.


Time Management

The funny thing about art is, there is almost a direct correlation between how much time you spend on it and how good you get. Seriously, the more you do it, the better you become. That's the bad news, because time is precious and we have only so much of it to go around. However...

Art can be made anywhere! With advancements in mobile technology (in addition to the tried and true notepad and pencil), it is easier than ever to squeeze in 30 minutes here and there to work on a project. Since we are assuming that most creators that are reading this are not seasoned veterans who make a living off of their creative projects, we are assuming that they have full time jobs (and probably families). I'm not going to tell you how to manage your life around your art, but I can help you factor your art into your life.

1. Find the moments of inspiration and document them

  One of the hardest things to do when working on a project part time is staying focused on it enough that you can keep the flow of your story intact. A story is only good when it is written by someone who has been inspired. Unfortunately, we cannot control when inspiration comes to us. When you have ideas, it's important to be able to document them quickly and in a manner that you can build off of it later.

  I utilize google drive again for this functionality, except for this scenario I typically use my smartphone. Everything is connected to the cloud, so when an idea pops into my head, I take a note on it in the same amount of time it takes to send a text message. That way, when I do find myself at my computer later, I can see the idea, remember what I was feeling, and turn it into something awesome!

2. Find a way to bring your project with you

  This is easy - have a laptop/device/notebook and bring it with you almost everywhere. I bring my laptop, a notebook, and my drawing tablet literally everywhere I go (at least in the car). Often, I find myself with 20-30 minutes between appointments or on a lunch break, and wanting to ink a scene or two. You'd be amazed at how focused you work when you have a time crunch! Maybe you use your phone or an iPad? Find a way to ink your comic on your iPad! Take notes on your smartphone! Connect it all so you can jump on your project at a moment's notice.

3. Schedule in time to work on your project

  It seems simple to schedule time to work on your project, but by taking the time to schedule 1-2 hours where you can buckle down and work will help you commit to the project. Take some time that you would normally have spent watching netflix or playing video games, and re-allocate that time (as formally as necessary for you). I keep my schedule within my calendar on my phone, and I look for a minimum of 5 hours a week that I can schedule for art and 1 hour that I schedule for writing and scripting. It doesn't always work perfectly, but by actually putting it into my calendar and getting an alert to complete it, I have been much better about committing the time necessary and thus my project is moving forward at a reasonable pace. You should set your scheduled time to help meet your SMART goals as well, and also better understand what your deadlines will look like by doing so. After all, if you can only allot 1 hour per week on a project that is going to take 100 hours to finish, you can't commit to finishing it in 2 months!


Thanks for tuning in so far. We've got the boring stuff out of the way (for now), and we are ready to get to work on our project! Next week, I'm going to take you inside of the development of "Traveler" as we explore the different methods to write a story, as well as the keys to making your story interesting! 



About David Kanellis: 

David is a ~30 year old business professional and aspiring artist who has had a love for gaming, fantasy, and sci-fi. Living in a small town in Upstate, NY, he loves to travel around this region and beyond to different events and cons. He is currently writing, illustrating, and publishing his own comic book, and wants to share the process of that creation with you!

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