Saturday, February 25, 2012

Is It Vain to Indie Publish ebooks or apps?

Recently on an internet thread about self publishing ebooks a fellow illustrator wrote, "If I pay, it's vanity and I'm not that vain."

I thought it might make for a good blog post and create good dialog.

   [van-i-tee] Show IPA noun, plural -ties, adjective
noun excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.....something worthless, trivial, or pointless.

So I'll start by asking a few questions:

1. If you're working with a traditional publisher don't you PAY with compromises? When we're asked to make changes that we don't agree with aren't we paying by agreeing?

2. If we accept a manuscript that we feel should have changes but must agree to illustrate "as is" aren't we again paying with more compromises?

3. When we sign a contract that stipulates that if a motion picture is ever produced from the manuscript we are ineligible to receive compensation - even though the movie director might use the illustrations as a spring board....are we paying again? (talk to me sometime about a friend of mine who had to watch the movie art director accept an academy award for the look of the movie which looked exactly like his illustrations - he received no compensation either.)

4. Are we paying when we give up 90% of the book revenues to the publisher?

5. And how much are we paying when we wait sometimes years to see our book finally published? (I have a friend who had to wait 9 years from when her book was first bought....didn't she pay?)

Most things that have value come at a cost...I don't mind paying.

A few more thoughts:

What if J.K. Rowling had stopped submitting her manuscript "Harry Potter and the and the Philosopher’s Stone after being rejected time and time again? Bloomsbury was basically her last chance...what if they had rejected it too? Would she have been vain if she self published it and it took off?

Publishers are often right and often wrong. Large publishers usually help make manuscripts and art better. Publishers overlook niche markets. Publishers find and exploit niche markets. Publishers make dumb decisions. Publishers make smart decisions.

Picasso said everyone is born and artist....are you going to let someone else validate your art with a simple thumbs up or down?

I love working with editors and art directors. I'm saddened that editors don't get their names on the front cover along with the author and illustrator. I have quite a few books where the art director or editor's suggestions, ideas, requests, or changes made a section go from good to great. Having said this we are all human and all make mistakes - even editors. I can't afford to allow my value as an artist to be determined by what one or two other people think about my work. We only get better through hard work - trial and error - success and failure. So why not publish it yourself if you can't sell it it to an editor? The market will let you know if you created something of value.

Publishers have many reasons why they turn down AMAZING manuscripts and artwork. I have heard editors give reasons such as: "Our house already had a book in the same genre scheduled to be published even though we liked the new manuscript better" or "All of the editors loved it but the marketing dept. shot it down" or "Our firm decided to work primarily with established authors and we ended up turning down some amazing work." Should all of this amazing work be forgotten about?

If you wait for the validation of a publisher you might be killing your artist, ideas, and genus that's waiting to be unleashed.

Can you have pride in your work without being vain? I think so. I think we all need to have enough pride to submit our work for publisher review. I think we need to take pride in our work to make it better. Without pride we'll cease to innovate. Without pride we'll stagnate. In order to see success in indie publishing you better have pride in your work - and a lot of it if you want to be noticed.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Be Selfish by Helping Someone Else!

I think I've talked about this before but one of the best things you can do for your art is to help someone else with theirs. I don't care if you're a rank beginner or a veteran there's really no substitution for the knowledge and ability you will gain by breaking down what you've learned to spoon it out to someone else - oh yeah and there's a side benefit - YOU'LL FEEL AMAZING WHILE DOING IT! Again, you don't have to be that far along the path - just a little farther than the person you're teaching. All of us have something to give.

The other day I was in a position to avoid a person who had avoided my help in the past. We'll call this person the "artist". I had been annoyed by the artist's "unteachable" attitude and somewhat abrasive personality but due to certain circumstances it just worked out - I found myself sharing what I had learned to be true. The artist was different that day - approachable and willing to listen. Before I knew it we had accomplished quite a bit and I could tell that the artist had learned a few things that could potentially change his/her life. It was very rewarding and very unexpected that day.

But we both won! I was able to question and carefully re-think my method therefore solidifying my knowledge and reinforcing my skill, while the artist gained a gift. If you want to become a better artist you need to teach what you know to others. Even if you're reluctant to let your light shine - do it! You'll only get better!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dr. Paul Interviewed Me For Podcast

There's a first time for everything and Monday was my introduction to a podcast interview. Dr. Paul runs a great podcast called "Live On Purpose Radio". He interviews people who have had to overcome adversity and make crutial decisions in their lives to find success. I think he was running low on quality interviews when he saw me bumpin down the street. I felt a tug as I was snatched off my feet and plopped in his chair. Someone slammed some headphones and shoved a mic in my face and the in the podcast:

You don't need an iPod to listen - just click the link and listen right from the webpage. Anyway - I had fun and now I'm going back through some of his other podcasts - really good stuff.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Guess What Came In The Mail?

There's nothing quite like getting a box of new books in the mail! You spend months working on a project but have to wait sometimes over a year to see the final product. Senorita Gordita is my third book with Author Helen Ketteman - a wonderful author and a great gal! Senorita Gordita is a fractured fairy tale or retelling of "The Little Ginger Bread Man" with a southwest twist.

Our Publisher - Albert Whitman, has been great to work with. Senorita Gordita is my sixth book with them and hopefully not my last. Developing relationships with publishers has been vital to developing my career in children's books. So far all six books are still in print - I don't know what they're doing over there but from experience this is rare - way to go Whitman...and Albert!!! I've had other books go out of print with other publishers and it's never fun when that happens. There are a lot of reasons why some books do well while others don't - perhaps another blog entry in the future.

Oh, also, Albert Whitman has been having great success with their ebook releases of "The Box Car Children"

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just For Fun!

Once a month I try to make time for a personal piece. I know I've talked about this before but I feel it's important to pursue creating something without boundaries or limits. An excuse to be totally selfish. To allow the piece to "breath". I had fun with this back to work! (digital illustration painted using photoshop)

Friday, February 3, 2012

How to Make and Market Your ebook / app

I get asked quite often: "why should I make an ebook or app and what are the best methods to market them?" In the video below I try to make a case for both. I hope that my insights will help you make the right decisions for you. I'm not an expert at this whole ebook thing but I've developed some opinions which I've put in the video. With a technology so new all we can really go on is each others best guesses and experiences. If you're writing or illustrating or contemplating either I think this video might help you solidify your ideas or change them for the better.

Oh yeah - the video is about a half hour so get your favorite beverage and a sketchbook and chilax!