Storytelling and Marketing Your Book


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    Art by Magdalena Takac

    What comes first, characters, or story? What do I do with a finished Childrenโ€™s Book, who do I give it to? Is it worth being an author/illustrator instead of just an illustrator? And how do you market a book, now that COVID is winding down? This week, Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry discuss these questions and also outline an important petition against McGraw Hill.

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    Mag, I love your art!

    Just wanted to say, re starting with an image instead of a story: C. S. Lewis started the whole Chronicles of Narnia series because he was thinking of a faun with packages under a street lamp. You never know!



  • Really interesting podcast, I started listening to it while I was working on my contest entry but then I slowly found myself making notes from this instead ๐Ÿ˜†

    I really love this illustration ! I think I've found more illustration inspiration on here in the past few weeks that I have in the last year of being on Instagram. So many talented artists on here.



  • Beautiful art @mag!

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Will, Lee and Jake for the transparency and humility in this episode. The whole marketing topic is a tough nut to crack, but the tips provided in this episode are priceless!



  • I laughed out loud when Jake and Will both started singing ๐Ÿ˜†
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    @K-Flagg lol!


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    Be a Centaur!

    ๐Ÿ˜‚Did not see that piece of advice coming!


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    @Jeremy-Ross @LauraA thank you! It was great fun working on this one!



  • Great ep!
    Made me think of that time I saw a local author all set up a little table at our Coles bookstore. He sat there, ready to sign, but everyone was walking past him totally not interested. He looked miserable.

    You write a book, imagining that after it's all done youll get interviewed up on a stage in front a huge audience of people on the edge of their seat...
    But really no one cares๐Ÿ˜…



  • @davidhohn yesss thatโ€™s the bit that definitely stuck with me lol!


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    @kylebeaudette exactly! I know that feeling very well. When my first picture book got published and I had a reading in our local library, it was like a big friends and family reunion ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿคฃ. The few (two, actually) people that came from the street to learn about my book were like ๐Ÿค”hmmm, why do they all know each other... it was a great lesson for me though. And it was fun. I have a big family, so the library was filled to the roof ๐Ÿ˜†



  • @Lee-White said being an author/illustrator is the only way to make it as an illustrator these days. Lee, what makes being a stand alone illustrator so tough?


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    @Matthew-Oberdier good question. I think it's a combination of things. 1. Pay has not gone up that much in our industry. 2. Doing books and illustration jobs takes a long time and you are basically a one man show.

    We are one of the only industries where no matter how busy you get, only YOU can do the job. In other businesses they grow the staff as the company gets well known. But not ours. So if I am making like $15k for a book, but it takes me 8 months to do, then you can begin to see the problem. So you need to either A. make more money per job. B. Work faster so you can do more work. Ideally both of those things happen at the same time and you can begin to do better. For an author/illustrator, you make DOUBLE the advance and DOUBLE the royalty. And you get to control the content too! So it's sort of a win-win.

    I should also add that most illustrators have side hustles too that help make the ends meet. Teaching, Art Fairs/Cons, Etsy sales, and Kickstarters to name a few. This business is tough and to make it just taking illustration jobs that come your way is not very likely.



  • @Lee-White Thanks for the real talk. I guess I feel a little discouraged, because now I have to figure out how to get client work AND how to do a side hustle, all while trying to improve my drawing and painting skills.


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    @Matthew-Oberdier my advise for early years is to always have the side hustle just be a regular part time job. It is very difficult to do all those things you listed at once. I love the idea of an uber job or something flexible mixed with client work.



  • @Lee-White I like the idea if an Uber job, but with a driverless car, so I can draw and work at the same time.


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  • Really loved this episode!! And I laugh so much during some parts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Which normally happens and is making my work time much funnier.

    I didn't see the centaur thing coming, but loved the analogy. And I'm very happy to know that this is a great way to do it because I'm more interested in that path than illustrating for other authors.

    Regarding the "start with character or story", I have to say that I wrote an entire fantasy novel in a completely invented world at 24/25 because I found a very small text about a character that I wrote when I was a teenager. I have worlds that I imagine and now have to find a story to them, and sometimes I have just a scene, and then all the rest has to be constructed around that one scene. So I definitely agree that there's no right or wrong way, I can only say that I never started with a complete idea of the story. ๐Ÿ™‚



  • @Matthew-Oberdier @Lee-White I started doing part-time/casual work as a letter carrier last year, I just turn down work when too busy, and otherwise Iโ€™m outside getting loads of fresh air and exercise ๐Ÿ˜€, a great contrast to sitting inside doing artwork ๐Ÿ™ƒ



  • An interesting topic of the author/illustrator career path! Although I found the reality is a bit more complicated than simply getting double advance and double royalty. Below were my impression from limited conversations with other author/illustrators, my agent, editors, and basically anyone I can ask questions about author/illustrator.

    1. It might be easier to sell a book I both write and illustrate, if I have already illustrated a couple of books, or have some kind of publishing experience points. It would be a bit easier to enter the industry aiming for getting an illustration gig first, and keep writing on the side in the beginning.

    2. Sometimes, you might be offered low advance for author/illustrator book, lower than an illustration only gig, especially when you doing your first one. Publishers are not willing to invest a lot to an unknown artist, even though they make an offer. So you are not always getting the double amount of money for the advance.

    3. Sometimes, you spend double amount of time, if not more, to do an author/illustrator book.

    I think author/illustrator path is indeed more sustainable for an artist long term, if you enjoy creating your own stories (which I do, very much). But in the beginning of the career, it can feel a lot harder, a lot more demanding, and even less income. You also need to pour in as much time learning the art of writing as well as learning illustrating. I started writing on the side over the last couple of months, and I found it overwhelming sometimes, but I also enjoy the process of learning writing, almost as much as learning how to illustrating.


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