top of page
  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hobday

What did we learn from writing a children’s book using Agile

Previously I shared about writing a children’s picture book using Agile (You can find it here).

Here’s what was learned along the way? (Hint: These are very transferable lessons!)

Learning One: Go direct to the information source where readily available. There were lots of ‘research’ work items about publishing platforms, trim size (size of pages), bleed (ensuring colour prints to the edge of a page), etc. We used second-hand information (from self-publishing YouTubers) to pick trim size and found the publishing platform would have been able to distribute our book more widely if another size had been used. We would have been better off researching directly with the platform for that one.

Learning Two: Run enough variety of work items early on to get a sense of time and materials required for the rest.We completed the ‘writing’ work items before commencing any ‘illustration’ work items (Except for sketching the main characters).  It would have helped to run at least one ‘illustration’ item through the Kanban to ‘Done’, to get an idea of how long they may take and confirm we had all the software, materials, and skills required (Luckily, we did!).

Learning Three: Run a “pre-mortem” on the project at the start, to help anticipate how things may go wrong (then work to mitigate those things).  For our type of book (full colour) there’s a minimum number of pages needed for publishing.  We didn’t have a work item to research the colour option and page count aspects.  As a result, we had to add some activities and puzzles at the end of the book.  To do this we added them as additional work items to the backlog and worked through them.  Fortunately, these became a neat feature of the finished product, but it would have reduced the project risk if we researched this aspect earlier on.

Learning Four: Limit Work in Progress (WIP) but consider your context when doing this.  It’s important to limit Work In Progress (WIP) in Kanban to maximise flow and avoid things like context switching.  Limiting WIP means capping the amount of work items in a stage at any one time.  However, it can be tough working on the same illustration for hours and hours.  I needed to find a balance - to keep things interesting and avoid boredom-driven fatigue.  I found a WIP limit of three items worked well.  It generally meant I would be working on one black and white illustration, a digitise and colour item, and one other item (e.g. a research piece).

Creating 'Raccoon and Pig and the donut truck' was such a fun experience.  If you have a moment, please check it out on Amazon:

Illustration from, ‘Raccoon and Pig and the donut truck’ (Illustrator: Andrew Hobday)


bottom of page