Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

I designed, edited, and produced my first book

My Book Project

You may or may not know that I am a MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier University. During our second trimester we got to do a really cool project. (Probably the coolest project I’ve ever done!) We had to produce our very own book. We were given two criteria: the author we chose had to be Scottish, and the book we picked had to be out of copyright. My choice: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish classic I enjoyed reading immensely during my undergrad.

When I started this project, I knew right away I wanted to create a young adult edition of a classic title. My main reasoning behind this being that those were the books that I, as a non-native speaker, couldn’t read when I was a teenager and still learning English. I wanted to create an edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde that I would have been able to read. I am so very proud of the end result, and think I achieved the goals I set for myself and then some!

Cover Illustration

Alongside editing, I started thinking about the cover. I had a rough idea of what I wanted, however, I knew my Adobe skills weren’t advanced enough to create what I was picturing in my head. I wanted a cover that showcased the contrasting personalities of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the cover needed to be appealing to both boys and girls (and have that slighly horror-ish look to it), and above all it needed to be a YA cover.

So, I contacted my VERY talented friend: Shiralee. She’s a graphic designer from the Netherlands, and after a skype conversation and few emails she absolutely nailed it and created this beautiful cover illustration for me!

The Editorial Bits

The editorial part of this book was perhaps what I was most nervous for. Because I set my sights on creating a young adult edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde there was a lot to be done. I first went through the manuscript to eliminate any grammatical and spelling errors. After that was done it was time to focus on what needed to be done to make this an edition suitable for young adults (both native and non-native speakers). The original work was full of endlessly long sentences and quite some archaic words. Both needed to dealt with, but in such a way that I stayed true to the original work.

I ended up creating shorter sentences by splitting up the ones that were too long. I made a list of all words I didn’t immediately know the meaning of (and those that I did but were too old-fashioned) and researched them by looking up the definition and finding out where they originated. The list of words was quite long,  and took time to research, but it made me realise that there were some words that I wanted to keep because they gave the work (and the time period it is set in) character.

Hence why I ended up creating a glossary in the back of the book. Readers don’t need to use it to understand the book, but it does enhance the reading experience and allowed me to keep those words I wanted to keep. For example, the word ‘Sawbones’ is in the glossary. It’s a slang term for a surgeon or doctor, and I loved it to much to just cut it out of the book. The glossary solved this problem for me.

The Internals

Once all editorial was done, I had to flow in all text, and start on the production of the book in InDesign. This was probably my favourite part. I love working with InDesign and spent A LOT of hours making sure the internals ended up as pretty as they could be. There’s endpapers, there’s chapter illustrations, I took care of those pesky widows and orphans, and I made sure there were no weirdly hyphenated words throughout the book. You can see a glimpse of those endpapers and chapter illustrations in the image on the left (or above, depending from which device you’re viewing this post). Both (again) curtesy of my insanely talented friend Shiralee!

A lot of hours went into creating this young adult edition of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, but it’s hours incredibly well spent, because I am SO PROUD of the final product. I’m so grateful that Edinburgh Napier University created a learning environment that allows students to experience this. It was a safe environment that allowed room for trial and error, and I feel like I understand and appreciate the time and effort that goes into creating a book even more than before.

The book is currently at Bell & Bain in Glasgow, where it is BEING PRINTED. You read it right, in a few weeks time I get to hold actual physical copies of the book I created.

And that’s a wrap! I have been sitting on this, wanting to share it with you, for what feels like forever (but was actually just a trimester…). I’d love to hear your thoughts, so do feel free to leave a comment below!