I sent out my first postcard promo mailer a few weeks ago. I sent to a bunch of big publishing houses (a list published by the SCBWI, which you get access to when you're a member). So far I've heard nadda, zilch, crickets. I don't know whether or not to take that as a sign from the universe to do something different with my career, or if I'm not doing this right. I feel like art directors are perched atop some impenetrable fortress and I'm throwing paper airplanes at them (but with nice artwork on them, of course). How have some of you gotten picture book projects? What marketing approach worked for you?
My kids are both going to be in school this Fall, so I feel like I'm at a crossroads here: either make this illustration thing work or pursue something else. And I don't know what that something else would be because I truly love illustration.
@Laurel-Aylesworth From what I understand, postcards are a long-term strategy. It's like sending out seeds to the 4 quarters of the wind, and sometime in the next months/years, some of those seeds might grow. Even if you've caught the eye of an art director, they don't work on that many books every year and it's likely they've already booked illustrators for the next several projects. I heard art directors keep the postcards they really like and will contact the artists if a project that fits their style comes across their desk. Please don't feel so discouraged because you didn't get results just a few weeks after your first mailing, that's totally normal. Personally I've come to feel postcards are a little bit too pricey a method and have switched to email solicitation, which has brought me a similar ratio of 90% no response and 10% jackpot.
I'd like to share a couple anecdotes with you to share my own experience with such things. When I first sent postcards, I sent them in a wide net to publishers, animation studios, games studios, etc. I heard exactly nothing back from anyone and was really discouraged. Just like you I felt like I was screaming into the void and no one was listening. Fast-forward 6 months later, I had a chance to visit one of these animation studios. When I walked into the art director's office and was introduced, I was flabbergasted to spot in the background on a small table, my postcard atop a pile of papers. When I pointed it out, he told me it was "the good pile"! This exemplifies the "seeds" analogy I mentioned earlier. You may think you're not having any impact, but maybe you are! I also never ended up working there, so some of these seeds don't take root, but they still spread.
Another example is last fall I wrote to Storytime Magazine explaining how it was one of my career goals to illustrate a story for them and linked my portfolio. Within 2 weeks I received an email back from the art director that she loved my portfolio, she thinks my art fits their magazine and she'll be in touch when she has a fitting story for me. That was almost a year ago and the fitting story still hasn't come across her desk. These things take time, even when there's interest! I've been in touch 3 more times, updating her with new additions to my portfolio and when I published my book, and each time she has reiterated she is interested in working with me one day. These things just take time
xin li last edited by
Hi @Laurel-Aylesworth I heard the same thing about postcard mailer - it takes long time for it to start working. So be patient, and don't be discouraged.
I am in the process of building up a mailing list, both for physical postcards, and for email mailing list. So far my process of gathering list consists me fliping though my book collection to look for names of publishing house, and googling around for the names of editors. Mostly, I fail to find email addresses for editors (people don't list their emails online anymore appearently). The process is slow.
You mentioned about a list of big publishing houses in SCBWI. Did you find the list on "The essential guide to publishing for children 2019"? In which section did you find the list?
@xin-li I believe she's talking about "The Book", which is a SCBWI registry PDF that lists publishers and agents. It's only available to paying members though.
StudioLooong last edited by
I also recently sent out my first postcard. I haven't had any calls or emails with offers of work but I HAVE seen an uptick in hits on my website from places like NYC and LA where I sent a good number of cards (seen through google analytics on my website) and noticed that one or two people from my mailing list followed me on twitter. In those regards I would say that the mailing was a huge success. I may not have received a job offer but I have increased the number of publishers who are now aware of me as an artist and interested enough in my work to take a look at my website.
Don't be discouraged! Your work is great, I'm sure some of those seeds will grow (as nessillustration put it)
@xin-li Yes, The Book is the one I used from 2018. I like your idea of a more curated list of publishers, which I will do for myself moving forward. I notice my favorite books are from smaller, independent presses.
@NessIllustration Thank you for your thoughts on this. Your story sounds encouraging for sure. The whole getting-published process seems a little flawed in a that there are so many talented illustrators out there, it would be sad to have them bow out of the running because of receiving such minimal feedback. I supposed it also takes a bit of faith.
I'm also thinking of dabbling in some educational illustration just to get some work experience.
xin li last edited by
@Laurel-Aylesworth, Are you using the list in the "Edited By" section on The Book? (I have the 2019 edtion, I just assume the structure of the book is the same from year to year). I was hoping to find a list of email along with the editor's name and publishing house.
How do you guys do the digital mailing list? the editors emial is really hidden online.
@xin-li Mine says the 2018 SCBWI Market Survey. I agree, it's like the editors don't want to be found - lol. I also find that some of the listings state "Art Director/Editor accepting art work submissions" but offer no contact information. sigh