Thursday, December 22, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pirates Board Kindle E-Books

Hi everyone!
Wow, it's been a while! I have so much going on right now (motherhood...keeping up with projects....Christmas...) that I haven't had time to write. However, I thought this was so cool, that I had to blog about it.

So, I'm at my part time job, sitting at the library desk, and browsing through our library's collection of e-books. My early Christmas gift was a Kindle-Keyboard, and I have enjoyed checking out our library books with it. (Thank you, Amazon, for deciding to play nice with libraries!) Anyway, to my great surprise, I saw that my "Pirate School" books are now available as Kindle-ebooks! So, of course I downloaded them. I was curious to see how the text interacted with the illustrations, and how the illustrations re-produced in e-ink.It was so cool to see my books in e-book format.

Overall, I thought that the black & white interiors looked very close (sometimes better) than the print versions. So, the quality of the reproduction of my black and white art gets a star.

Not so stellar is the image placement. Generally, the illustrations were placed well as long at the illustrations were spots and not full-age or half-page. Now, with children's books, I think that the ability to look at an image while you are reading is very important, and this was not possible for the full-page art in e-book format. You must read the text, then click the "page turn" button, and then you can view the illustration all by itself. Rather dissapointing were some of the half-page pieces. On several instance, the e-book cut off my artwork, and showed the "leftover" bits blown up really huge all alone on the next "page". this was weird, and I did not like to see my art cut up and mutated in this way. There was also some inconsistency in the size of the chapter openers (sometimes you saw the chapter number, image and start of the text, sometimes just the chapter number and image, sometimes just the chapter number with the image and text starting on the next page...)

Overall, it was interesting and fun for me to see my books translated into an e-book format. However, I think my daughter will be reading them in print, because Mommy is very particular about how her artwork looks. Besides, Olivia's new hobby is turning the pages in books!

Friday, October 7, 2011

To Save or to Spend...

Hi everyone! It's been a busy few months, but I wanted to take the time to share a sneak preview of my latest projects. I just finished working on "Kathryn & Elizabeth Go Shopping", which is about two sisters who have to decide whether to spend their allowance or put those dollars in the piggy bank. This project was a bit of an experiment for me, because I decided to incorporate a little bit of collage into my digital technique. I scanned in patterns and textures and incorporated them into the illustrations as clothing, fabric, floors, wallpaper and other elements to bring greater detail and uniqueness to each image. The hard part was choosing textures that would blend seamlessly with my digital painting technique. I had to adjust some of the patterns' colors to match my color scheme as well. However, I am really pleased with the end result, and feel that the illustrations for this book really represent a step forward in my digital art. Plus, the client was happy and approved all final art as-is! Yay! I also had the opportunity to do the graphic design for this project as well. This is unusual for me to have true control of the book's look and layout, from imagery to text. I really enjoyed being able to integrate the text with the imagery exactly as I envisioned while working on the illustrations, and I LOVE picking out accent fonts.....I know, it's nerdy, but I love fonts. Anyway, here are a few more of my favorites images for this project (without the text, or course):
I'm currently working on another project aimed towards tween-age girls, staring a girl with very curly red hair. I've had a character in my sketchbooks for years with curly red hair that I have been wanting to bring to life for a while, so I am glad that the right project came along to use her! That's all for now! Have a happy day, everyone!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So You've Written a Children's Book...

Now what? First-time writers often contact me after they have finished writing their children's book, mistakenly believing that getting the book illustrated is the next step in the publishing process, and are surprised to find out that there's more work to do before the book is ready to be handed off to an illustrator. First, you have to decide if you want to pursue traditional publishing or self publishing. So, for you new-authors out there, here is your mini-guide to the world of publishing...

Traditional Publishing With traditional publishing, your manuscript is published by a publishing house, such as Randomhouse or Harpercollins. The publisher buys your manuscript (the money varies depending on the rights they buy). You do not hire an illustrator if you go this route. You simply submit your manuscript. The publisher takes care of finding/hiring an illustrator, graphic designer, marketing team, and takes care of getting the text copyrighted in your name.

The Pros: This does not cost you any money. In fact, you get paid for your manuscript.

The Cons: You will not have any say in who the illustrator is or how your manuscript is illustrated. Also, you will have to go through the work of submitting to publishing houses. Also, there is no guarantee that your manuscript will be selected for publishing.

How to do it:
The best way to start submitting your manuscript to traditional publishers is to buy a copy of the current Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Market book. This yearly publication contains the contact information for pretty much all of the publishers in the US, their submission guidelines, and information about what they publish. Some publishers are small and some are large, and by reading the information, you can get an idea as to which publishers might be a good fit for your book. Then, you mail off your manuscript according to the submission guildlines, and wait for a response.

Self Publishing With self publishing, you basically assume all of the costs and responsibilities of a publisher. You pay to get your manuscript printed and put into book form.

The Pros: You retain complete control over your book. You get to decide who illustrates it and what the pictures look like. You have a hands-on experience through the publishing process.

The Cons: This can be expensive and time consuming, due to the amount of research and hiring involved. You must hire the services of an illustrator and a graphic designer, as well as a printing service. You would need to select a printing house and understand the print guidelines so that your illustrator and designer can work within those specifications.

How to do it:

NOTE: Before anything - RESEARCH YOUR COSTS and TIMELINES. Before you start making commitments to print houses and contacting illustrators and designers, find out how much it is going to cost to hire these people. Many first-time authors are dismayed to find out that it's going to cost a lot of money and time to turn your manuscript into a hardback picture book  On average,it will cost $3000-$10,000 to hire an illustrator, and 3-9 months for your illustrations to be completed, depending on the illustrations needs of your book and depending on the royalties and rights specified in your illustration contract.

Ok, moving on....

1) Decide on what your goals are for your book. Are you just wanting to print about 50 copies to give away as gifts to family for Christmas, or do you want to try and get your book into stores? My Dad wanted copies to give away to friends and family, so he decided to just get it printed at Pip Printing. This did not require him to have to get a copyright or anything official, but it was an inexpensive way to meet his goals for his book. If you are thinking about a wider or more official distribution, you will want to look at a self publishing house.

2) After you decide on a printer, you should find an illustrator and a graphic designer. There are lots of ways to find an illustrator. One of the easiest things to do is to browse the latest PictureBook annual. Download the recent PDF. Each page features a different illustrator (I'm in there as well!) If you see an illustrator that you like, you can contact them (their contact info is on the same page) for their availability and pricing). You can also contact an agency. You can pick out an illustrator that you like, and the agent connects you with them, and tells you the pricing, etc. Another source of talent is Children's Illustrators. You can browse the galleries, select an illustrator that you like, and contact them for pricing. After the illustrator finishes the art, the art will be provided to you, and you can give it to a graphic designer, who may be independent or affiliated with the print house you chose.

3) After the illustrator finishes his/her work, the graphic designer puts the book together into a format that the printer can use. This file is delivered to you.

4) You send the final book to the printer for print, if the designer was independent and not affliated with the print house you chose.

Some self publishing houses help you with marketing. Others do not. With self publishing, you will want to talk to local stores, etc about taking on copies of your book to sell.

Whether you are publishing traditionally or going the self-publishing route, I highly recommend becoming a member of the Sociey of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Members have access to documents about publishing and lists of editors, agencies and other industry contacts. Member can also access the forums, where you will fins answers to questions you didn't even know to ask! You can post you manuscript for critiques before you submit it to a publisher, and also get tips on writing query letters. If you are new to publishing, this organization is a great place to get aquainted with and get perspective on the children's publishing industry before you start making commitments.

Good luck to all!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stick to Sports

Hi everyone! My latest book "Stick to Sports: Let's Play Golf" by Nicole Weller is now available. It has lots of fun activities and teaching tools for children who are learning to play golf. I know that I sure learned a bunch about the sport (particularly stances, hand positions, clubs and courses) as I worked on the illustrations! Plus, the books come with stickers to track your young golfer's progress. I just received my copy from Nicole in the mail, and the book printed really well!

If you are interested in buying a copy, you can do so at Nicole Weller's Stick to Sports website. Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Let's Golf Book

Wow, it's been so long since I wrote! Freelance has been super busy, and with a new baby on top of it all....well, not much time for blogging. Two big projects that I have been working on since January (namely, the "Let's Golf" book project from Nicole Weller and finally getting a real night's sleep) are both happily complete! I really had fun illustrating this book, and learned a bunch about golf in the process. What really made my day was hearing back from the client after she saw the final art. She was really really happy! I was so glad to get the news! Before I sign off, I'd like to share a few of my favorite images with you. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jack and the Toddler

Yay for fun mail! I just got my copies of my newest book which will be released this summer, "Jack and the Toddler". It's part of the "We Both Read" collection from Treasure Bay. The books are designed with full paragraphs on the left side pages for parents to read, and simple sentences on the right hand pages for young children to read, so that the parents and children can read the story together. Although I always look forward to receiving copies of my books, I was especially looking forward to seeing "Jack and the Toddler", because this was the first client project that I painted digitally, and I was eager to see how my digital work reproduced. I am very very pleased! The colors are rich and vibrant, and exactly how I wanted them! If any of you want to read this fun story about a boy named Jack who is stuck playing with the neighbor's baby Mark for an afternoon, it is available for pre-order through the purchase section of my website. Enjoy!