Pitching and publishing an educational workbook

Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) MaryLouise Blond had an idea for a unique teaching tool. As an Illustrator and Graphic Designer, I worked closely with MaryLouise to help bring her concept to life.

The pitch

During her many years working as a SLP, MaryLouise Blond felt that the market was lacking materials that would combine language activities with articulation exercises to help students improve their vocabulary. While MaryLouise prepared a detailed description of her vision for Language Enhanced Sound Solutions (the original project title), I began drawing and designing sample pages. MaryLouise chose pages that would best demonstrate the variety of interactive lessons that her book would offer. The proposed 322-page workbook targeted later-developing sounds: CH, J, L, L Blends, R (including Vocalic R), R Blends, S, S Blends, SH, TH (voiced and voiceless), Z, and ZH.

Although this was her first attempt to get a book published, MaryLouise wanted to shoot for the stars and presented her idea to well-respected publisher SuperDuper® Publications.

SuperDuper® Publications is located in South Carolina and was founded in 1986 by Sharon and Thomas Webber.

Our pitch utilized a very similar layout to other printed SuperDuper® Publications materials.

Not long after submitting our paperwork, MaryLouise and I were delighted to learn that our pitch had been accepted!

MaryLouise (left) and I (right) happily signing our contracts in 2010.

Creating the book

Completing the book presented many challenges and learning opportunities! In order to complete the book within an ambitious timeline, we needed to complete drafts of multiple pages per day.

I created a variety of illustrations that could be reused for multiple exercises. Animals, vehicles, food and a multitude of characters and settings would appear in the lessons.

Due to the volume of work, MaryLouise and I devised a system that would enable us to keep our work organized. We created a document that contained all of the relevant “fields” that would appear on the page. Often, MaryLouise would even provide a helpful sketch along with the text for each page!

Initial draft (left) and final page (right).

MaryLouise had hundreds of ideas for interactive activities, sequential stories, poems, scenes and games!

An unused game concept.
A detective character examines some clues.
An unused “Sneaker Search” concept.

Each week, MaryLouise and I would meet to discuss our progress, our challenges, and to review the completed work.

When we were approximately halfway through our first draft of the workbook, we had a conference call with the publisher to discuss our progress and refine our approach. Working with an experienced publisher proved very beneficial! They helped us enhance the way we presented the content and they knew what their customers would be looking for. They also came up with a fitting name for the book; Vocab-U-Sounds™.

Samples of final pages from Vocab-U-Sounds™

We made an effort to make the lessons interactive and limit repetitive actions. In the case of “Bubble Fun”, the original draft called for three images of bubbles gradually becoming closer together. I had an idea to make the lesson resemble Mad magazine’s famous “fold in”. This approach increases the student’s interaction and hopefully makes the exercise more fun.


Published!

In November 2011, Vocab-U-Sounds™ was finally released! Check out the final product on the SuperDuper® Publications website. We were flattered to receive positive reviews from SLPs.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What a great combination of vocabulary building, language reinforcement and articulation practice. The illustrations are great and my students enjoy the activities. It’s a good value for the purchase.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I just recently purchased this book and my students love it. It is a great way of tying in language skills along with the articulation goals. The activity sheets are engaging. It is easy to use and works fantastic with the younger students.

The publisher prepared a detailed video presentation to explain how the book works and the value it provides.

MaryLouise Blond and Rynette Kjesbo were interviewed by educationalnews.org, where they discussed Vocab-U-Sounds™.

In the end, I feel that I learned a lot about meeting challenging deadlines, incorporating feedback from different stakeholders and creating content for a very specific audience!


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