Ok so a couple weeks ago I joined this Facebook group called "Children's books writers and Illustrators". A rather large group and I joined thinking there might be some business opportunities there for me. I saw a few of you there like @Nyrryl-Cadiz and @Jose-A-Nieto I wanted to ask you guys' experience with these kinds of groups.
Sadly, my experience has been very negative. It's no SVS learn forum, the level there is far lower than it is here. It's filled with amateur writers looking for free or unreasonably cheap labor from illustrators. Over the last couple of weeks I've been joining pointless arguments over why free work is unacceptable and it's in everyone's best interests (writers included) to get a pro who they pay a good wage. I'm someone who easily gets dragged into arguments and can't resist responding to something that shocks me, even when it's not furthering my goals at all. A lot of these threads devolve into an absurd all out authors vs. illustrators war. I've wasted countless hours on one-sided dialogue that goes nowhere, and of course, not a single business opportunity in sight - they all balk at my fee. A couple of weeks there has been enough to completely squash any and all desire I have to ever work with self-published authors...
Meanwhile my agent has been sending me inquiries and that's really what I should be focusing on. What a time sinker! I just now gathered all my resolve, walked away from all my on going discussions and quit the group.
I would love to hear what others' experiences have been like. Have you gotten anything good out of these groups? If so, what is it and in which group? Or do you think we should stay away from these places all together?
jdubz last edited by
Agree 100%. All my experience with FB has been that it can be a good marketing platform for products and services, but as a business generator for professional services it's dismal and seems to only really have activity in the MLM space.
Even if you ended up landing some kind of project from it, the leads to actual business ratio is going to be awful no matter how you slice it.
I joined a few facebook groups not for children's books but for selling prints, same deal - low price low quality and so much negativity.
Just a note on self publishers I've had a few contact me through instagram, I've decided that i'm just not gonna spend any time entertaining them any more. The first few I had bounced back and forth a few emails but none wanted to talk money or were shocked at a ball park figure I would throw out. Now I politely direct them to the Children's Writers and artists yearbook and advise them to go through a publisher who will pick an illustrator.
Jose A Nieto last edited by
I actually connected with April Cox, who likes helping new writers self publish. She's really nice but that's about it. That group and the other one I'm in is kinda like Fiverr, someone is looking for an illustrator, 200+ artists start fighting for the gig. And now in recent weeks this fighting and complaining you mention as gone stronger.
Seems like the best way to get serious work, if one does not have a huge following is a rep
@Phil-Cullen I may take after your example and make that a policy for myself as well. I'm contacted through Instagram for that kind of thing quite a bit, I discuss the project and get excited about it, then throw out a rate (usually generous because I'm attached to the project at that point) and never hear from them again. It's always a big disappointment. I mean one of them was a project about donuts as the main characters, living in a bakery. I was heart-broken not to get it.
@Jose-A-Nieto I'm glad you made an acquaintance, that's a really good thing to come out from all of this!
And Amen on the rep thing. I've been so pleasantly surprised with my new agency, inquiries are coming in it's night and day compared to my old agency. Perusing Facebook groups is almost like an old reflex of the girl afraid not to have enough work this season. I need to remind myself I may not need to do that much anymore and to go back to work instead of wasting my time...
StudioLooong last edited by
I joined a few kid lit facebook groups and had a very similar experience. As soon as I said I was an illustrator people came out of the woodwork asking for me to illustrate their book for free, for the promise of future royalties, or for $200-$600.
There is a very low barrier to entry for those groups and I came to the conclusion that as someone who is positioning myself as a professional illustrator, they are not the right place for me as most of the people in those groups are not positioning themselves as professionals. They are amateurs (in the sense that they are just doing this for enjoyment, not in the sense that they are incompetent). They haven't done any research on how publishing works and don't have intensions of making a career out of writing. They just want one passion project to become a book so that they can hold it in their hands, show it off to their friends, and give it to their kids or grandkids as gifts.
There is nothing wrong with an amateur writer joining a group on facebook to try and locate an amateur illustrator who thinks it sounds fun to illustrate their book for free or for pocket change. I just need to be aware that as someone making a profession of this, my goals do not line up with their goals. I need to seek out opportunities to engage with other people who are pursuing writing or illustration professionally (through forums like this or organizations like SCBWI).
It's like the difference between a local garage band posting on craigslist that they are looking for a drummer and a professional touring act putting out a call for auditions. They are both looking for drummers but the level of skill and commitment that it takes to join a garage band is MUCH different than that required to join the touring act and if I am a drummer who's goal is to be in a national touring act, I probably shouldn't be responding to calls from garage bands on craigslist.
@StudioLooong Very well put! I have come to the same conclusion. I like your analogy of the garage band. I expected a higher level when joining, but came to realize it was not a "professional" circle, such as this one here at SVS learn. Not everyone here is a pro yet, but we are almost all aiming for that and have a high level of commitment and seriousness to that goal. Within a few days in the Facebook groups I already knew this was not where I would find business opportunities, but I was still getting myself dragged into arguments, pointlessly trying to teach the importance of proper process (editor, pro illustrator with style fitting the story, graphic designer, marketing, etc) for the success of a self-published book. But I was preaching that to people who want to play in a garage band. I'm so glad I finally removed myself from the group, I already feel lighter today.
Amanda Bancroft last edited by
I've had the same negative experiences mentioned here with some of the same Facebook groups. I don't follow them anymore. SVS is way better at meeting my needs. On the plus side, I learned to narrow my focus for these groups. I join and follow social media accounts for colored pencils, for example, because that's my main medium. Or for the company that I want to license my work to. Or for an artist/teacher who gives great tutorials. I've had a good experience doing that. Hope that helps!
peteolczyk last edited by
@NessIllustration I’ve never joined any such groups but it’s interesting reading all your experiences. I recently joined the Scbwi British FB group but it’s fairly quiet, I joined more for networking, I don’t know if you would have better luck on one of these , I think they are all closed groups.
Even after my limited experience with the enquiries I’ve had so far I would much prefer an agent, like you have Ness.
I recently had a potential client, self publish author, tell me they were selling their clothes on eBay to afford me but because my contract was apparantly ridiculous they wouldn’t go through with it. (Just a standard AOI contract) -lucky escape I think.
@peteolczyk Wow! That's... wow. Self-published authors have a way with the guilt trip don't they.
@NessIllustration if someone emailed me and asked me to illustrate a story about a doughnut I would have a hard time passing that up lol
Seriously tho, more often if its self published their is a lack of understanding about what to do, they will expect you to do the graphic deign, theyre very close to the story so may not like constructive feedback or will get you to make silly changes because it doesnt resemble their grandmother that the story is about. So many headaches and that's after they agree to hire you, up until you sign something they can just drop off the face of the earth you never hear from them again, it's so unprofessional. If a publishing house did that they would be blacklisted.
I used to think i'll give them the benefit of the doubt, it might be an amazing story and they might be awesome to work and that may be the case sometimes (i'm not saying all self publishers are clueless) but they are few and far between. So my policy is to run away.
I was so deflated because I was dealing with this so much and I wasn't getting anywere. Then I got a book offer email from a proper publisher, their first email they sent laid out everything - price, timeline, art direction everything, no back and forth just straight up info.
@peteolczyk Never fall for the guilt trip. I had a self publisher tell me his wife fell ill and her wish was for his book to be illustrated and he just wanted her to see the sketches, so could I do some up over the week end... to which I said no.
peteolczyk last edited by peteolczyk
@NessIllustration @Phil-Cullen as soon as the guilt trip is there, it sounds like a con, or if they turn their nose up at a contract. Or even, rewrite your contract including all the terms and licence periods and send it back to you.
Has anyone had that one yet?
A proper publisher and/ or an agent sounds like a dream come true.
@Phil-Cullen Dang that's a new level right there! :o
@peteolczyk How awful, I'm sorry! I haven't had anyone rewrite an entire contract, thank god!
An agent can be wonderful but they are not all created equal. Last year when I was signed by my first agent, I was so elated and thought all my problems would be solved, now I just had to sit back and they'd shower me with work. Turns out in a year they sent me 1 job, and a badly paid one at that! It wasn't even a book but a few individual illustrations. At the time I had even dropped a recurring contract I had with a mobile games company because I thought soon the agency would be sending me so much work - after a few months I had to go back to them and ask to hire me back. Not exactly a fairy tale! Thankfully my new agent has been much more of a success so far But I still rely a large part of my income of the contracts I found myself.
@NessIllustration hi, I know which post you mean. When I first saw it, I knew it was going to be a messy I discussion. I didn’t want to engage in that one though. There’s a proverbs that says “You’ll never win an argument with a fool.” I too have argued my fair share on those groups but there’s just no changing most of them so I gave up. Almost all of them want to earn as much as possible, as soon as possible, while spending as little as possible without giving much thought to the quality of their product. And the sad thing is that they’re getting away with it.
I got a gig there a year ago. I’ve mentioned this here before. The author could only afford to pay 1k. That time, I was studying for my board exams. I had no gigs coming in, no money but the she gave full creative freedom and a very lose deadline. It took us about 6-7 moths to complete the book but we were very satisfied with the end result. I haven’t had the same experience since.
I’ve been posting my work on those groups lately in order to find some side hustle. I’ve been getting a lot of inquiry but when I give my rates they all go silent. I’ve had a lot of unsavory encounters on those places. Most of the self-publishing authors just don’t know the industry and they’re just looking for a profit.
@Nyrryl-Cadiz Yeah I don't think there are any reasonably priced gigs to be found there. If there are, they are 1 in a million and would take a lot of time and effort to find. It's probably a waste of time, there is no good business happening there. Hopefully your new agent starts sending you stuff soon
peteolczyk last edited by
I guess it’s normal for it to be an imperfect struggle, with a mixture of agency work, your own clients and sometimes difficult ones at that. I’m still trying to find my way with it and work out what to expect. If I ever stumble on some good luck on a Facebook group I’ll definitely let you know.
anya.macleod last edited by
@NessIllustration I'm a member there too and I did a book for a client from there that writes and publishes around 6 books a year, it was my first paid book to illustrate and was paid decently and I'm doing another one early next year and possibility of more work, so I guess it is possible although rare, in terms of the drama I just try stay out of it, most of the people on there have no idea what they're talking about so it's pointless lol
Facebook groups can run hot and cold. I think it depends a lot on how they're set up, how well they're moderated, the specificity of the membership's interests, etc.
I guess all groups are like that on some level. But artistically-inclined Facebook groups seem to have gone the same direction that old Google+ groups went, and where DeviantArt has gone in some ways: the more they embrace a wider demographic of experience, the less pertinent and relevant they become to those who aren't necessarily on the low-to-mid-range of the learning curve...
The SVS Forums seems to have escaped that paradigm, luckily. I have to wonder if it may be the nature of the "old-fashioned Forum" user-interface that seems to be less and less common for a lot of social media sites. You have to really be actively looking to participate on Forums--it's not a passive thing in a lot of ways. And that weeds out a lot of the more flippant, less-caring, less-invested participants. I think it has elevated the quality of the conversation here significantly.
I used to be a proponent of FB groups, but now... Not so much. The quality isn't worth the cacophony anymore.
There are some relatively "newish" options, for finding groups of like-minded individuals. Discord is probably the trendiest social media phenomenon that has a substantive place in the diaspora, and there are individual artist-centered groups/communities popping up there all the time. All the Discord "servers" (i.e. groups/communities) seem to have different flavors and different features (some including voice chat for videogaming or monthly challenges, etc).
One in particular--Discord for the Arts--has a significant SVSLearn cross-membership.
The thing that separates Discord groups is that they are invite only. You can't just search and join. They aren't "public" groups in the traditional sense. They skew toward the younger demographic, so most of the legit working professionals are in gaming/rpg/concept art/animation/comic art and have robust personal followings, and use Discord in conjunction to their Twitch streaming channels and Patreon bases to augment their personal project income streams outside of their DNR contracts.