Start by studying the story!
Every good designer wants to start by knowing WHAT they are designing. In the case of a new story, think of it this way…
You’ve written the story. Now, read the story wearing your designer hat and as if you have never read it before!
Design is about enhancing the words on the page and supporting the story’s overall message. Read your entire story again and make some notes. What do you pick up on? What are your story’s themes? Jot down anything that comes to you as you read.
For our new book, One-der, when the writer elf gave me the first draft of the story, I read it three times! I wanted to understand this main character that I’d be designing for. I wrote down: black and white, cartoon character, serious, no-nonsense, animated pack, leaders and followers, family.
Those were my very first notes (just a few words) on design.