@chrisaakins all agents are different in this respect I assume, but my agent allows me to move between PB and GN pretty easily. Even though I signed as a picture book author/illustrator, my agent put out a call to her clients to consider graphic novels since they are trending. Another artist who has my agent is now going from PB’s to YA and it didn’t seem like a problem. However, a point of discussion in our critique group is how some authors and illustrators seem to maneuver through different genres seamlessly, while I have heard that it is very easy to get pigeonholed as a non fiction artist if that is what you start off doing. It is one of the mysteries to us atm. Idk if people who are able to go from PB to YA are just outliers or it is very much possible for anyone capable.
Posts made by Eric Castleman
RE: It's been a good while (update)
RE: It's been a good while (update)
@xin-li yes that is understandable. I would say just have a couple manuscripts, and some themes for other stories you want to do. Make sure the agent you submit to has similar interests in the stories you want to write. This is vital. Agents don’t know what you should write or what will be successful in a general sense, they know what they love. Signing with a literary agent who has different interest might put resistance on a story different agent loves. They won’t “get it” if it isn’t the sort of stories they love. For instance, my first manuscript/book dummy fell flat with one agent, but I looked at what sort of stories her clients write and they are very different than what I like to read and write. My agent now loved it when she read it and sent it on submission a month later.
Agents can only tell you what isn’t working, they cannot tell you how to fix it, because if they could, they would just publish their own stories (many of them are trying at the same time you are) they are more like professional readers who know when a story is a good story when it works.
I wouldn’t wait to be 100% ready either. As one of my critique partners rightly said, necessity breeds innovation. Your best work will come by being under pressure.
It's been a good while (update)
Hey there everybody!
If you have been on these forums for the last few years you might remember me, but if you are newer you will have no clue who I am. I thought it was a good time to pop my head back in a give an update on what has happened with me and my career after spending two solid years at SVS. It might help others who are moving in the same direction, as well as clear up some things that I was not to clear about when entering this industry.
I signed with with agent last July!
YAY! It happened! After working so hard here at SVS and listening to Will, Jake and Lee a ton, things fell into place for me and I got representation. In fact, my agent signed three others from SVS, and since signing myself, I have seen other SVS members sign with other agents I follow. It has been quite amazing to witness.
I signed with a literary agent, that represents me as an author/illustrator, which is different than being rep'd as solely an illustrator. The difference is quite extreme in my opinion. This is something I wish I knew beforehand, but was somewhat aware. Let me explain:
Literary agents used to rep authors, and if they could illustrate that was a nice cherry on top. However, over the last few years, agencies have been trying to find illustrators who can already write or learn to write. There are many reasons for this, but one of the major reasons is one individual is easier market and more cost efficient than two. That being said, literary agents are now treading on new ground. It is much more time consuming to market an illustrator and get them work than it is an author. One reason is that much of the marketing for illustrators requires postcards, and constant ads to publishers, as well as maintaining a website with updated work. This is one of the reason Literary agents take less of a percentage than art reps, since art reps are taking on more of a burden.
So, we are in a new era if you will, and that means literary agents are being faced with a new hurdle in marketing illustrators, so don't be surprised if you sign with a literary agent and nothing happens with their help, and still requires that you do much of the leg work to get deals done. This will change over time, as literary agents grow accustom to this new breed of dual artists they have work for.
I was good enough, but not enough
If I can be honest, I was probably ready to get an agent a year earlier than I did. In fact, my critique group thought I was nuts for waiting around, but I felt as though I needed to be 100% ready. When I signed, I realized I shouldn't have waited....
I also was not ready in other ways. If your goal is to write and illustrate, please listen to me here: Have at least two solid stories ready to go for your agent. In fact, most literary agents I came across wanted two stories before signing an author/illustrator. I had one, and once it went to market for publishers, I should have already had a manuscript that was fully critiqued, rewritten, edited and ready to create a book dummy. I didn't, and so I am stuck in a creative black hole with a clock ticking as I write constantly trying to chase trends that both my critique group and then my agent can give the green light on so I can then dummy up 32 pages (which will take a long time) so that I can get my next story moving.
My critique group is doing better than me
As I sit by myself writing each night, I witness my critique group getting book deals left and right as illustrators. I often second guess my decision to enter this field as an author/illustrator. Some literary agents are different, and they will get you a good amount of work as an illustrator, but most won't. It seems to be either: "You are an illustrator and who knows, maybe you'll write something some day, and we hope you do". Or, The weight of your career rests on if you can write a great a story that fits the trends, or sets them (rare I think). However, I chose this path, because I worried that I would never have the time to branch out as an author/illustrator, and I am rolling the dice that it will be a good decision in the end.
I thought this would be good information to share here. I know everybody has their own path, and I look forward to seeing you all kick butt in publishing. SVS changed my life, and I hope you all get as much out of it as I have.
RE: How much finished art is expected in a book dummy?
Depends on the agent who is going to pitch the dummy. My agent requires 50% of the book completed, which is unusual, and was a lot of work. Usually 3-4 pieces is the norm. A cover, but just a cover concept, because it will most likely get changed by the publisher.
RE: Will Terry's wife passed away last night
This is very sad to read. I will definitely add her name to my prayers for the the foreseeable future, as well as the entire family. This news is very shocking, and even those close to me who aren't at SVS know of Will through what I have talked about for the last few years, and are also very sad about this news. May her memory be eternal!
RE: What are you 2019 illustration goals?
That is a good goal. I would add that since you are already doing full images, that you should enter contests, and get critiques on your portfolio as the year goes on.
My goals for this year are:
- to finish and submit my book dummy to an agent.
- submit to art reps
- begin a youtube channel
- write a short story (600 words) each month
- Do a social media project.
- upgrade my website.
RE: Am I officially classed as a student on SVS Learn?
It asks you if you’re a student, and it didn’t ask anything else. I then was billed as a student. Idk, my wife set it up however, that is what she said she did without much difficulty.
RE: Am I officially classed as a student on SVS Learn?
I got the Adobe student price by citing SVS. I probably should have made a post about it. But yea, it worked.
RE: My book dummy
@Sarah-LuAnn My brother in law who uses InDesign everyday at his job came by and walked me through it. After having him walk me through it, I thought this would be a great class at SVS, and funny enough a few weeks before I had gotten to talk to @Will-Terry at Designer Con, and my brother in law got to meet him as well. I would love to see if they could get him to do a class for SVS on it, because it streamlines the process so much, and is the perfect sidekick for illustrators.
@burvantill I had an agent reach out too me last April wanting to see if I had any manuscripts in the works, and at the time I was too busy with other things, and so am not just finishing it up. I hope to have it sent by the end of this week. If this doesn’t work out, I will move onto getting an art rep, and spending more time on my writing on the side.
My book dummy
I never realized how much work goes into a book dummy. If I would have known, idk how I would have approached it differently. I started at the beginning of September, hoping it would take me a few weeks, but if I could suggest a few things after going through all of this, here are my tips:
1- learn Indesign!!!! Wow, how have I not used this from the beginning to layout my book dummy? I got a good grasp of it towards the end of this process, and it has just made everything much easier. It isn't a hard program to learn, but it can seem that way when you first start using it.
2- Get your page turns down from the beginning! I can't tell you how much time was wasted on drawing out a complete book, and then realizing a page turn doesn't work, and then having to cut images and text just so the page turn hits correctly. Dropping an image shifts everything, potentially ruining all of your other page turns. I have found that my original idea was easily ruined by not considering this right at the beginning. I started trying to make fixes which were not at the same level creatively because my mindset was to make it fit, rather than writing the best story possible. This feels like writing music with pictures, and getting the tempo down in the beginning is what makes it 100 times easier.
3- Plan other projects to do while working on your dummy. I was dumb, and thought this would be easy. I had a somewhat soft deadline which I missed, and it completely stopped me from working on anything for my social media for almost three months. This was a bad idea. I am glad that this is finally just about done (gosh I hope) so I can get back to some projects I have planned.
4 - share your work with others, because a very obvious issue might not leap out at you, and most likely it won't if it's your own project. I have had numerous people look over my work, or give me advice on where I am missing the mark.
5 - At least try to do a book dummy once, so you can get the feel of the whole process, as well as know what not to do on your next project.
Now my phone is ringing, and I have to go drive 30 minutes in the rain, even though I was putting the finishing touches on this atm (ugh)
RE: Curious: what are your ‘style rules’
My “style” occurred naturally after trying to force a style for a year or so. I gave up trying to draw a certain way, and just made art the way I liked. I realized that style is very much rooted in the steps a person takes from the beginning of a piece to finish. Prior to that realization, I thought style was merely an intential thing.
My first step is to not care about the drawing. I know that that is not a good thing, but I really just don’t care. It is why I didn’t participate in inktober. I like my drawings to be loose, and the objects to be more shapes than anything. So if it is a moon, a cat, and a building, I try my best to make sure the image is designed with shapes more than “characters”. I’ve noticed that the more the shapes are correct, the better the final painting is. I also have fallen in love with painting more than drawing, and would love to one day just paint without drawing at all, but that may never happen.
My second step is to paint the underpainting. I always find the colors I want, and find the warmest color and create a value scale with that one color. I work out all of the lighting, and shadows, and the more time I spend on this process the better the final image is.
My mindset at this stage is that I have a very detailed underpainting, and I now have to mess it up a bit. I start dropping in scanned textures. I like watercolor textures, stuco textures, bark, skin etc. I try my best not to consider where I am placing the textures. I want it to look accidental, and in many ways, I want it to ruin the fine details a bit. I like knowing that all of that work is getting covered up a bit, and only hinted at being very controlled.
Then I move onto placing color on the image. This is the hardest step for me. Balancing color is not a strength of mine, so I tend to spent a lot of time complaining (important part of my process) to my wife that I am a fraud haha. Then it somehow starts to work, and I zero in on the details.
The final step is the Highlights. I go in and somewhat identify shapes that have been lost in the previous steps that I want to emphasize. I hit the parts that need better lighting, and the parts that need better shadows.
That is basically what I do every time. I am always looking for another weird thing to add to it all, but so far I like this process the best.
Is a book cover expected for a book dummy?
I am nearing the end of a book dummy I have been working on for an interested literary agent, and have yet to design a cover. Is this something that is done later if the book is sold, or does the agent want to see how the cover would look? For some reason it doesn’t make sense for me to include it.