You’re producing an illustrated book and you’ve got a HUGE pile of vintage photographs, documents, and other printed material. On top of that are potentially hundreds of megabytes of digital photos on your phone, tablet, or hard drive.

​HELP! How do I organise all of these for my illustrated book, you’re asking?

You can make your life and, equally, your designer’s life, much easier and happier with a little planning and forward thought.

Let’s start at the beginning… you’ll need the following tools which are all easily obtained and affordable:

  • As many A4 sized envelopes as there are chapters in your book
  • Post-It Notes
  • Pencil & eraser (these make correcting mis-numbering easy!)

The first step: When your manuscript or book is finished, edited, and ready to be handed to your designer, the first step to joyful organising is to print out the WHOLE document.

It doesn’t have to be in colour – black & white is fine and a lot more gentle on the wallet with printing costs.

You will also need to print out all the digital photos that you will be using. You can place several photos per page in a Word document and print them out. Cut them out into individual photos after that.

Next, sit down and group ALL your images into their relevant chapters. A4 sized envelopes are good for keeping the different chapter images organised and to avoid mix-ups.

Take the first envelope, spread out your photos and digital photo printouts on the kitchen table or workspace. Put them into the order that they appear in your book. 

Now flip the photos over, mark a Post-It Note with a consecutive number (starting from 1) and stick it to the back of that photo in order of appearance.

If a photo of Uncle Leonard is the first photo, that needs to go by the place he is mentioned in your book. Mark the photo with a Post-It Note with the number one (or relevant consecutive number) and stick it to the back of Leonard’s photo.

PLEASE don’t be tempted to use paperclips! These get tangled up with each other and come off even with gentle handling. They may also potentially damage your precious, irreplaceable vintage photographs by scratching them.

Working through your printout page by page, mark the place the relevant photo is to appear with its Post-It Note number. You can write this in the printout’s margin next to the correct paragraph.

Repeat this process for every image you want in your book. 

It’s not a quick task for sure, but it prevents errors during layout and you get the book and image match-up that you expect, need and desire!

Take your time and be kind to yourself during this process. Breaks are recommended after each chapter. And of course, you should celebrate your achievement when the job is complete. I recommend a good cupcake and a cup of fresh coffee – my favourite!

That reminds me… just one final word of advice. Don’t be tempted to have a beverage while you work. Accidental spills and irreparable damage are heartbreaking in the extreme!

If all this seems overwhelming, the alternative is to ask your editor to perform this task. It will cost you in time which is reflected in the final invoice but it IS an option.

I wish you happy organising!

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Is it your dream to create a business book? A coaching workbook? A memoir? A cookbook with your family’s treasured recipes? A children’s picture book? I’d love to hear ALL about your book!

Let’s connect. I’d sincerely enjoy chatting with you one-on-one about your book.


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