SCBWI L.A. conf : Part 2 : BUSINESS

When I went to the NY SCBWI conference a few years ago, I was excited about hearing illustrators talk and gaining inspiration.

This time, with my first trade book under my belt, I was much more business focussed. My little group kept saying I was channelling Leeza, who I met in NY, and who is the queen of networking. Well it's not so easy for me. I have to force myself to talk to strangers, but I figured everyone was there for the same reason so everyone's open to being approached. Plus, I had made these:

business card size mini portfolio I figured I owed it to myself to be bold and hand out as many as I could.

And while I'm at it, here are all my promotional materials: portfolio, mini-folio, postcards, business cards.

So, armed with these goodies, I tracked down as many editors, publishers, agents, and all-around good people as I could....

I got them into the hands of Stephanie Owens Lurie (Disney-Hyperion), Justin Chanda (Simon & Schuster), Claudia Gabel (HarperCollins), Jennifer Rees (Scholastic) and by mail post-conference to Josh Adams (Adams literary) (who was actually the one I really wanted to talk to but could never find him) Anyway, some salient points from them:
• Your book will be judged against publisher's 'list' - it could be a great book but if they have recently published something similar, it may not be attractive to them (so much of this business is about timing!)
Your pitch/query letter should capture in 30 seconds or less
• An agent or publisher wants to build the career of the author/illustrator
• They will help with grow and shape your career but will not be your shrink, or your mother. you still need to work hard and give them something to work with!
• The ideal author/illustrator: keeps their audience in mind always, is selective on publishers, willing to promote the book, and is open-minded about future technology.
• Many editors prefer to receive material through an agent, but gems are still found in the 'slush pile'
• Think about how your story could be converted/used on new technology and think globally

I should say there was a lot of discussion at the conference about ipads and the like and how it will change (or more likely 'add to') the role of the author and illustrator. What wasn't discussed was whether the digitisation of books will ruin the industry as it has the music industry - where companies lose so much money because the free proliferation of the art is so rampant, it is unable to be monitored. that means less money to promote up-and-comings, and less confidence in the printed market...... but i digress.....

One of the most amazing parts of the conference for me was on Day 2 at 8am: My one-on-one portfolio critique with the man who created this:

To say I was nervous is probably an understatement. I mean LOOK at that lion! You can see each inidividual curl. It's insane. He's an amazing artist.

But then the moment I sat down with Richard I was put immediately at ease. He is the kindest man you would ever hope to meet. Especially because, after introductions and niceties, the first words out of his mouth were 'I looked at your website - I really like your work!'

He proceeded to go through my portfolio and point out all the GOOD things I had done! What a revelation! I thought I was going in to have my folio picked apart. But I realised what he was doing was so much more valuable: this is what is working for you, this is where your voice is strong, work on this, develop this.

Of course he gave me lots of areas to work on, all completely on the money:
• My characters are all very 'happy' -- show a range of emotion & experessions
• there should be a story behind each image. (I heard this several times throughout the conference)
• Show some B&W work and even some sketches
• my images are all quite flat -- work on perspective

and then..... came my million dollar question.
I asked Richard if he thought my work was ready for an agent.
--hold breath--
Yes, he thought so. I could talk to his agent who was at the conference.

so i did.

2 days later, I met for a glorious 5 minutes with Rubin Pfeffer from East/West literary agency. He said Richard had talked very highly of me (really?). He leafed through my folio and picked one image (which Richard liked too):

and said if I could build up a story around this little guy for him, he'd be interested in working with me.

so that's my homework assignment. I've already brewed a lil story around him on my 14 hour flight home. I can't tell you how exciting this is for me. Now I just need to follow through on this amazing opportunity.

So I have to say, that business-wise, for me, this conference was a definite success...

next post.... conference buddies :-)

Pick me! Pick me!

One of the amazing things about going to an industry conference is that you just.. never.. know.. who.. will.. be.. there.....

In my case, it could be the publisher of my dreams, the agent of my dreams, or someone else of my dreams (except for husband, I already have that!)

And the only way they are going to find you is if you stand out from the crowd in some way. I guess, truthfully, your art should make you do that. But promotion is a such an important thing, though sometimes irreconcilable with being an introverted artist.

But I do my best to talk the talk, and um.. paint the paint? So here is my promotional postcard for the SCBWI conference in all its glory!

My folio is also being printed and bound this week, and I have a few other little tricksies up my sleeve... heh heh....

t minus 4 days to lift off!


Just taking a break from painting -- house painting -- to report on the IA 20th year exhibition because it was was a HUGE SUCCESS!! (follow the link to see a video of the opening - I am in it ever so briefly but I won't tell you where - ha!) We had so many people through you could hardly move at some points during the evening.. The wine ran out within half an hour (we resupplied) and best of all, we sold lots of art for our members!

Also, I am happy to announce that I have joined Image Zoo, a website dedicated to stock illustration and licensing. I don't know if anything will come of it, but I always reckon the more chances to be sighted, the better. (You can see me here.) A lot of this work is fairly old so I will be endeavouring to add and update as I go.

Ok, my kitchen cupboards are calling. Hoping to get back to some more inspired painting soon.

ps. Happy Canada Day for all the canucks out there (3 days late), and Happy 4th to all the yanks!

Illustrator pages up and running

I've now got two new illustrator pages viewable on that pesky world wide web.

I was very happy to be accepted into The Stylefile, which I applied for before I left travelling. It is a great resource, specifically for Australian picture book illustrators. You can see my page here.

Also the new Illustrators Australia website is up, and it's fantastic! Unfortunately not everything is working perfectly yet, so when you do a search for my page, it doesn't show up, but it IS there. To prove it you can check this link.

I probably won't be changing these pages that often, since they're really just a link to my website which I (try to) keep updated. But I figure the more places I am on the web, the better!