“18 Top Illustrators Tell Us Their Biggest Ideas on How to be Successful” – Phillip Dennis, Red Lemon Club
Looking to those who have successfully found their way to where we are currently trying to navigate can provide an invaluable guide to avoiding the steep drops and dead ends that often come up to blindside us.
There is never one singular route or clearly-etched map to carving out a fulfilling career as a successful creative professional. With every additional artist you approach, words of wisdom become more complex, nuanced, and unexpected.
By putting together a series of thoughts and ideas from a group of top illustrators, we can see a wide range of approaches in one place, and we hope it inspires you.
We asked 18 currently active illustrators:
Note from Joan: Please click on the link below to find the rest of this great story with illustrations, too.
“Plant Success Seeds for Your Next Conference Now” by Joan Y. Edwards
You have the magical seeds needed for your success. Your inner mojo or magical power is there for you to use 24 hours a day. Look for it. Plant it. Nourish it. To help you grow in confidence, you need to grow in skills and abilities. Plant these seeds for your success at your next conference.
Before the Conference
Believe in you. Activate this belief. BELIEVE IN YOU AND YOUR ABILITIES. That’s the first seed for success. Believe in you. You can do all things necessary for your success.
Set your goals. What skill do you most want to improve? Attend the workshops that will help you improve that skill. I hope that by attending a conference, you’ll learn a new skill or marketing technique that inspires you to reach your goals. You have what it takes for success. You may have to look through different eyes, through a different window to see it.
Visit the web pages of three presenters that interest you. If they have a website, read the about me section. Check out their books at your local library or on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
If you have specific questions for presenters, write them down on 3×5 cards and ask them at the conference during the workshops. If you don’t get a chance to ask them in person, most handouts or websites give contact information so you can write and ask them later.
Get business cards with your name, address, phone number, email address, website, and blog. Many people put an image and link to their publishedbooks on the back. Use www.VistaPrint.com, www.Gotprint.com, or local print shop. You can also create business cards on your computer.
Writers: Prepare a postcard, business card, bookmark. Use your book titles and pitch blurbs. Get these giveaways printed at www.VistaPrint.com,www.Gotprint.com, or other print shop. You can also create them by hand or with your computer.Illustrators: Prepare a portfolio of 10-20 of your illustrations. Make sure these are the kind of illustrations that you enjoy creating. Prepare a postcard with a sample illustration on it. If you have illustrated a published book, put it on one side and put a different story’s illustration on the back of the postcard. Share with people you meet at the conference. Also send one of your postcards to the art directors for publishing companies represented at the conference.r illustrators. Get bookmarks and or postcards printed at VistaPrint, Got Print, or other print shop. You can also create them by hand or on your computer.
Buy a new spiral notebookwith a bright colorful design, acomposition book with a black and white cover, or a sketch book.This way all of your notes are in one place. You can put it in front of your computer when you get home, and transfer your handwritten notes to your computer. You can add information from handouts by scanning them into your computer, or by typing what you want to remember from the handouts.
Writers: Buy two pens that are dependable and write just the way you like a pen to write. Put them in your pocketbook to take with you. Illustrators: Take a pencil, a ruler, and a white eraser.
Write a pitch for three of your manuscripts. Print out your pitches on 3×5 cards, 4×6 inch cards, or plain 8.5 x 11 printing paper. Carry two copies of each pitch with you to the conference. Put one copy in a folder and the other in your pocketbook. Practice giving your pitch in front of a mirror. Use eye contact. Memorize it. If your pitch is longer than on 3×5 index card, it is too long.
Take comfortable clothing to wear in your favorite colors to keep your spirits high. Take a sweater or blazer, in case the air conditioning is too cool for your inner thermostat.If you’re hot, you can take off the blazer. A good work attire for writers/illustrators is a pair of jeans, a shirt, and a blazer. Linda Rohrbough says that you want the editors to think you just left your computer to meet with them. Be comfortable. If you feel better being all dressed up, dress up. It’s important for you to be comfortable and feel distinguished. Wear comfortable shoes.
Check your laptop, iPad, or iPhone. Charge its battery. Bring your charger to the conference.
Copy the full manuscripts of your Works in Progress and other pertinent information you may need for the conference to a portable drive or flash drive for your laptop or use a cloud data holder. If you use Dropbox, you can put your manuscripts in it and access it from your iPad or iPhone or other electronic devices. It allows you to see your manuscript from all devices. Check it out before you leave home to make sure it works.
Check out the directions to the conference. Find the restaurants that are located close to the conference that serve the kind of food you can eat.
At the Conference
Take notes using your new spiral notebook or composition book or take notes on your laptop or other device.
2.Hand out business cards.
Hand out business cards to everyone with whom you talk. Ask for their businesscards, too. This will give you resources to check after the conference. The more you do this, the more comfortable and natural it will be for you. Make a goal of handing out at least 10-30 cards and getting an equal number in exchange.
3.Talk to people sitting beside you in a workshop.
Do you feel lonely and out of touch with people? Talk to the people who sit beside you in the workshops. Exchange names, email addresses, and business cards with them. Here are possible questions to start your conversation:
“What are you writing?”
“Are you in writing group? Is it online or face-to-face?”
“How do you find time to write (illustrate)?”
“Do you (draw) write best in the morning or at night?”
4. If you meet a publisher or agent, ask them questions about themselves and their projects.
If you happen to meet an agent or editor in the elevator or at lunch, remember he/she is human, like you. Ask one of these questions or one of your own:
“What is your favorite project right now?” “How do you know when a book is right for you?” “What’s your advice for writers(illustrators)?”
5. Writers: Be ready to answer questions about your writing with a pitch.
After your question for an editor or agent, there is a great possibility he/she will ask you, “What kind of writing do you do?” This is a perfect lead in for your pitch. Hold your head high. Look the editor/agent in the eye. Pretend he’s your best friend and tell him your pitch.
Illustrators: Be ready to answer questions about your illustrating. Tell people three things you like to draw and if your like to portray humor, the dark side, nature, etc.
6. Take a short walk for exercise in between sessions.
7. Get plenty of sleep.
8. Eat healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Drink plenty of water. This will keep you alert and focused.
9. Enjoy yourself and learn as much as you can.
10. List twenty things for which you are thankful each morning before you get out of bed.
11. Thank the presenters and the organizers.
12. If you are inspired by a book you hear about or see in the bookstore at the conference, buy it or borrow it from your public library.
After the Conference
1. Sleep, if you’re tired.
Accept yourself and others as you are. Focus on what you want. Be thankful for what you have. Be grateful for where you are. Put the fun back into your writing.
2. After you’ve rested, read and organize your notes from each workshop.
Edit your notes and add information from your handouts. You can scan pertinent information from the handouts into your computer. Write at least three major things you learned from each workshop. You can write down more details if you want.
3. Make a top ten list of things that you learned at the overall conference.
4. Write/Revise Your Writing/Illustrating Goals
After this information soaks into your mind, body, and spirit, write/revise three writing/illustrating goals using the skills and information you learned. (Be patient with yourself.)
5. Writing Skill/Genre Goals
a) Read ten books in your chosen genre and three books on the craft of writing and/or illustrating.
b) Revise your favorite manuscript and submit it to an editor or agent.
c) Revise 3 of your favorite illustrations. Choose one to create a new postcard and send to a prospective publishing company.
6. Marketing Goals
a) Learn a new technology.
b) Submit manuscripts/sample illustrations to different agents and/or editors often.
c) Join or create a critique group.
c) Join my Pub Subbers Yahoo Group, a group to encourage you to submit your manuscript/portfolio often (monthly if possible). To join, write me and tell me why you would like to join at firstname.lastname@example.org. Members postsuccesses, ask other members for help. etc. Members receive automated reminders for the weekly steps to get your work ready for submission.
d) Prepare a book presentation for schools/organization.
e) Prepare a proposal to present a workshop for a writing conference.
f) Prepare a pitch for a manuscript. Go from a page summary and then focus on the words to hook readers. Keep shortening your pitch: 200-100-50-25 words. The ultimate goal is a pitch that is 140 characters long (approximately 25 words) that fits in Twitter. If you have all these different lengths, you will have a pitch to use in your cover letter, proposal, and for the rave blurbs for the back cover of yourbook. Your pitch is the magnetic tool that will entice people to buy your book.
7. Networking Goals
a) Create a website and/or blog.
b) Join a critique group.that focuses on genres you write or illustrate.
c) Give book presentations/workshops for schools and organizations
d) Create an author/illustrator page onFacebookand post news of your publishing journey.
e) Create a TwitterAccount.Tweet your blog posts and your publishing news.
f) Visit the websites of three people who shared a business card with you. Email them. Here are possible points to include in your email. Remind them of how you enjoyed talking with them. Thank them for sharing a resource. Congratulate them on their manuscript, portfolio, or book. Compliment them for being brave if they read their story at open mike. Thank them for giving you a new way to look at a problem.
g) Make a list of your followers on Facebook and Twitter. When you get your book published, they will be helpful in spreading the word about your book. Interact with at least 25 of them on a regular basis.
“7 Steps to Amazing Cover Letters” by Joan Y. Edwards
A cover letter is not the same as a query letter. A query asks for permission to send a manuscript.
A cover letter encloses or attaches a manuscript along with it. Sometimes editors or agents request a chapter or a whole manuscript. Sometimes guidelines tell you to send your whole manuscript. If you’re attaching or enclosing a book manuscript or article, you need a cover letter to accompany it.
When you write a cover letter,
Address a certain person if possible.
Make it only one page, business format, single-spaced, your name and address and date in right hand corner. The publisher name and editor or agency name and agent and address listed on left hand side.
Lead off with the short selling pitch/blurb of 25 words or less for your manuscript. A pitch is an eye-catching, heart-trapping summary of your book or article. It can also be called your “Hook.” Ask your critique group or partner to help you formulate a good pitch. Write your pitch on a 3×5 card. If you can’t get it all written on the front side of the card, it’s too long. Here are articles about writing a pitch:
Tell why you and your book or illustrations are a good fit for this publisher or agent. Mention one book published by the editor or represented by the agent that is similar to yours and tell how your book would hook and attract readers to it.
Give your publication credits. If you don’t have any, mention that you’re a member of SCBWI, or other literary group. SCBWI has a great reputation with publishers.
Tell if this is an exclusive submission (only submitting to this editor or agent for three months or a simultaneous submission (more than one publisher or agent at a time).
Call for action and thank you. Ask a question or proclaim a statement of why you want this particular publisher or agent to do. Thank them.
Will you publish my book?
I’d be honored if you’d consider publishing my book. Thank you for considering it.
I’d like for you to publish my book. Thank you for considering it.
Thank you for your considering the publication of my work.
Will you represent me as my agent?
I’d be honored if you’d consider being my agent.
I’d like for you to be my agent. Thanks for considering me.
Thank you for considering being my agent.
The purpose of this group is to provide a place to advertise your blogs, books, and illustration portfolios and to meet other bloggers, writers, and illustrators. The idea is if each member shares one or more of our links in another social media, the word about us, our blogs, our books, and our illustrations will spread. Making connections with other writers and illustrators will help us and our work be better known so that those who might want to buy it, can find it and buy it with a smile.
If you want to join, send me an email to email@example.com or leave a comment below telling me your Facebook name and verify that you are a writer, illustrator, or blogger and that you would like to join the Facebook To Market To Market group.
Join To Market to Market to sell great books and awesome illustrations.
Use To Market to Market to share a great blog
Use To Market to Market to share questions and useful ideas for authors and illustrators
I would be honored if you click the like button there. Links posted on this page are automatically Tweeted to my Twitter account @tomarketsuccess. Please connect with me on Twitter @joanyedwards and/or @tomarketsuccess.
“20 Resources for Illustrators” by Joan Y. Edwards
I’ve been working on my illustrations for Larry, the Terrifying Turkey under contract with Ravenswood Publishing. I found a few blogs, websites, and YouTube links that might help inspire you as an illustrator and help you improve your skills. Please share with me in the comments area links that help you in your illustrating journey.
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Wikipedia says that by March 2011, LinkedIn had 100 million users worldwide. As of October 2011, LinkedIn had over 14 million students and recent college graduates as members. Now, they have over 225 million users. LinkedIn is a place for job seekers, entrepreneurs, and professionals to network online.
USA TODAY College says joining LinkedIn before graduation can benefit students during their college and professional careers.
Trade publication TechRepublic says LinkedIn has “become the de facto tool for professional networking.
Here are 10 reasons to use LinkedIn:
1. Connect with someone you already know who is on LinkedIn. Don’t ask to join the network of a person you do not know. I have accepted from people whose names and work I am acquainted with, although I have not met them face-to-face. For instance, people I have interacted with by email or who have subscribed to my blog.
2. Endorse your connections for skills and expertise. You can also add other skills for them. Sometimes others endorse you for skills you hadn’t put on your list. This is quite an honor. By seeing the skills listed for you, an employer can check his needs with your skills and request an interview for a job with his company.
3. Design your own profile with a photo for Identification purposes.
4. Upload a resume listing all of your qualifications for a potential job. This will showcase your education, honors and awards, publications, work and community experiences. This can help you find jobs, people and more business opportunities.
4. Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates within LinkedIn.
5. Job seekers can review the profile of hiring managers and discover which of their existing contacts can introduce them.
6. Send private messages to people in your network through LinkedIn.
7. Post links to websites, blogs, and other social media connections.
8. Join different focus groups for organizations, industries or products; for instance, SCBWI, social media, writers, illustrators, kitchen and bath designers, lawyers, plumbers, architects, etc.
9. See events that relate to your job and/or skills and who is going; for instance, conventions, conferences, seminars, workshops.
I hope this article has shown you 10 reasons to use LinkedIn. Always remember it’s a choice.
If you don’t feel 100% percent comfortable in doing it yet, there are 14 resources listed below to help you decide if it’s for you and to help you get started.
As a way to celebrate my 50,000 reads (only 621 views to go), I’ll do a Hangout to “How to Make Your Blog Zing” and field questions from participants. As I understand it, we can only have 10 people in a Hangout at a time. But it’s free. I hope you’ll join me. Leave a comment below if you’d like to come. It’ll be on the first Monday after I reach 50,000 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. It’ll either be in May or June. Connect with me on Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/108439424078672286967. I’ll send you an invitation. If it works out, we can do one every month about varying topics. We’ll see how it works.
When I reach 50,000 views, I’m also going to have a Give-Away to a lucky winner — a 1/2 hour personal consultation/critique on Making Your Blog Zing. I’ll do this by telephone or via computer (winner’s choice). I’ll analyze the lucky winner’s blog and make suggestions on how to improve what he’s already doing; give tips on how to organize his time; and most importantly, answer questions he has about his blog.
To subscribe to my blog and receive an email when I post an article, click “Sign Me Up” in the left hand column. You’ll receive a free logo as a gift. Thank you.
Connect with me. I’d be honored.
Celebrate you today.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
“Interview with Vivian Zabel, President of 4RV Publishing” by Joan Y. Edwards
Today I welcome Vivian Zabel, President of 4RV Publishing, LLC.
In October 2010, I did an online chat pitch for “Joan’s Elder Care Guide” with Vivian at the Muse Online Writers Conference. I was impressed by the quality of 4RV’s books and that they worked one-on-one with authors and illustrators. I was excited when she told me, “It sounds promising. Send me a proposal and the first three chapters.” In April 4RV Publishing sent me a contract to publish it with a release date of June 2015. I am still dancing on the roof.
Thank you, Vivian for allowing me to interview you and 4RV Publishing on my blog. Let us begin:
1. How did 4RV Publishing get started? What is the symbolic meaning of the name? How did you and Aidana WillowRaven, VP of Operations, meet? Is she a partner?
I saw a need to fill the gap between vanity and self-publishing and the major publishing houses.
4RV represents my family: Robert (my husband), Rene (our daughter), Robert Jr. (our son), and Randy (our son) – the four Rs – and me, the one V.
Aidana and I met online. Actually we met when she wanted 4RV to accept a manuscript for someone she knew. No, she’s not a partner, but the company couldn’t manage without her.
2. What are the goals of 4RV Publishing?
The goal of 4RV publishing is to produce quality books from the best authors we can find and with the best illustrations and cover art around.
We expect thorough and complete editing so that as few errors and the best writing can be the result.
3. What was the first book you published?
I believe Trockle was our first picture book, and our only foray into hardback picture books. The logistics of hardback picture books is another story.
I’m not sure which was our first young adult or adult book, but it may have been my book The Base Stealers Club, a YA mystery. A side note: All my works have to go through the submissions process, too, anonymously. I have been rejected by a 4RV acquisition editor.
4. What has been the best-selling book? Why?
So far, Dogsled Dreams by Terry Lynn Johnson has sold the most copies, mainly because of the author’s participation in dog sledding and her promotions. Of course it’s a well written book. Terry and her editor worked together to make it the best it could be.
5. What are the three (or more) major problems of being a small traditional publisher? How have you overcome them? What are your strategies for success?
The Consumer Product Safety Act’s directive to have all products for children under 13 tested by a third party testing site nearly destroyed us, and we’ve never quite recovered, even though now books are exempted. Of course, all materials used to make books are tested for lead. How the government thought putting materials without lead together would create lead, I have no idea.
So, money is a major problem. Also costs: printing, fees, shipping, returned books, and other expenses. Un-cooperating authors and/or illustrators cause headaches, too, as do design problems that aren’t caught.
The money factor has no solution. At least the company is now paying its own way, no profit yet, but I’m not having to bankroll the company except for expenses for festivals and such.
Authors who won’t work with editors or fight all the way can be released, and have been. It’s still a headache dealing with them. Illustrators who won’t give progress reports or who drop a project after agreeing to finish leave us dangling. No solution for that problem unless they expect a good reference. Design problems mean more expenses to redo a project. Of course some of those problems are a result of authors not doing a good review of the proofs sent them.
My strategy for success is to continue to put out the best books possible, with the help of some of the best authors, editors, illustrators, and staff around.
6. What are three advantages of being a small traditional publisher?
We get to work one on one with authors and illustrators and staff.
We can better control the quality of our books.
We can watch others succeed.
7. What has given you the greatest feeling of satisfaction and pride?
Discovering people who have thoroughly enjoyed any of our books.
We suggest anyone interested follow them carefully.
9. What kind of books are you looking for? Children? Adults?
We are scheduled with children’s books through 2015, but we want more well-written young adult, more mysteries, more science fiction, more fantasy, more nonfiction.
10. What kind of books do you reject? (subjects, quality)
We do not accept anything with graphic or detailed sex or violence. I don’t want my company to put out anything that would cause me to be embarrassed if one of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren picked it up.
11. What distribution do you have for your books?
We pay for Ingram to handle our books. It’s the largest distributor in the world. We also have a website and an online bookstore for our books.
12. How does a book get in a book store?
Any bookstore can obtain any 4RV book through Ingram or directly from 4RV.
Recommendations and requests from customers let stores know to carry books, too.
13. When a big book store like Borders closes, do they return the books, or do you have to take them as a loss?
Actually, both. Yes, the books are returned, but the company has to pay full retail for the books, therefore double paying for some aspects and paying more than the returning store did. We get the books back (or we can choose for the books to be destroyed and not returned), but no matter what we take a loss.
14. What do you do to market your books? I love the trailers you do for your books. They are high quality.
I’m glad you like the trailers, but several people create them: sometimes the author or illustrator, sometimes one of our designers.
We have our books at book festivals. We promote online. We have them distributed through Ingram. We send out catalogs to libraries and bookstores. We expect our authors and illustrators to promote their books: some do, some don’t. The ones who do, help their book sales.
15. What do you expect your authors to do to promote their books?
Whatever it takes. They can have readings, presentations, visits to schools and libraries, promotion on the Internet, attend festivals and conferences with their books, and seek reviews for their books.
16. How is 4RV Publishing meeting the customer demand for eBooks?
We’re beginning to format some of our books for ebooks, however we haven’t seen any of that so called “demand.”
Formatting for ebooks is as much work as formatting for print, and we can’t use one format for the other. We have to do two completely different setups.
17. Where can people buy 4RV Publishing books?
4RV books can be bought through a physical bookstore or online bookstore, as well as through the 4RV online bookstore/catalog: http://4rvpublishingcatalog.com. Titles are listed with the imprints:
18. What are your three suggestions for writers who wish to be published?
Know your craft and have a well-written manuscript. Find at least one person to edit who knows what is required for publication. Follow suggestions, revise, rewrite. Realize that there is no magical number of edits or revisions.
Research publishers to find one that accepts your genre. Never think your work is so great that any publisher will make an exception.
Follow the publisher’s submission guidelines exactly. If the company doesn’t have guidelines online, request a copy of the guidelines.
19. What are three suggestions for illustrators who wish to receive a contract to illustrate a cover or picture book?
Most companies have submission guidelines for illustrators, too. 4RV does, and we ask people to follow them.
Thank you for reading about Vivian Zabel and 4RV Publishing. I hope the information inspires you to take a step forward to make your publication dreams come true.I’d love to hear from you. Click on comment and scroll down to the bottom of the page.