Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's the Economy- STUPID (me)

I'm home from a trip to that place in Florida that I'm a freelancer for. I was told by numerous people that the use of freelancers will be minimal in the fore-see-able future - due to cut backs due to the - economy. Oy Vey.

Bubble - burst.

And that's in licensing. How will the near future effect Children's books?

Back in October- I had gone to a Ny Metro Scbwi evening. Susan Raab, Raab Associates, Inc. - was the speaker. The topic was "Marketing your work" - She spoke of the uncertain economic times ahead and what it all means for publishing. Issues like the cost of paper - school and library budgets - travel costs - all will impact the author and illustrator as well as the publishers. She said that in this kind of climate it is even more important to market yourself wisely.
Most beginners can not afford to pay someone like her to do it for them. She does everything from media PR (Today Show-NPR) -to banners at Target/Costco/Barnes and Noble... But she gave advice on how to think about it and approach it for yourself...

This seems like a good time to share it with you- and repeat it all to myself!

Have a mission statement. Something to define you- who you are as an author/illustrator. Have it written down and ready. You need to have a context for you as a person - not just the book. (Not a bio - more "what you are" than "who you are". This way- you make a case for yourself before you even get someone to talk to you. "Gorilla Marketing"

Think how your book topic fits into the news or current events. If you write or illustrate horses- hook up with an expert to approach publicity with not only the book but information for the public.

Blogs- Website- Facebook -etc - do it all but have it all work together - working along that mission statement. Offer give aways -promotions - excerpts - sample art - first chapters. Have color-ables and down-loadibles. Contribute to industry blogs - get your name out thru industry publications. Start a mailing list(e-mail) and send out news to continually drive traffic to your sites.

Form Alliances - form a group of authors/Illustrators (like PB Junkies) -do combined book exhibits at stores/schools/libraries. School visits - work for the beginners as well as the heavy hitters. Come out of these with photos- build your own portfolio of PR and build content for marketing.

Think of it as a campaign for yourself. Consider yourself a product line - and keep evolving your plan to fit new work.
Stay informed on the industry. Consider informational books- such as holiday-self help-historical-event related - topic specific.

**Get paid for your time**** -It conveys your value! Push as much as you can. Advocate for yourself. Don't take hits personally. Take a long term view. Believe in what you are doing - so others will too.

I just was explaining to my almost 9 yr old- It's not the destination- it's the journey - and she replied with a scrunched up face and a loud "WHAT the HEck does that mean!!?" In explaining it - I was telling myself to quiet that part of my brain repeating from the back seat..."When will we get there? When will we get there?"... SSshhhhh... open up the window- take a deep breath - look up at the sky and dream- and don't get sick to your stomach... it's gonna be a looooooong ride.

Work in progress below..


Tanja said...

Thanks for posting the key points you picked up from your NY SCBWI evening. They appear to be good practices to keep in mind to market any creative career.

In any case, it sounds like more frantic creative juggling up ahead for us both in the next year. Sigh. I wish us both the best in dealing with these challenges!


Alicia Padrón said...

What a FANTASTIC post!! I feel energized already after reading it :o)

Oh.. yes Kelly, I agree. We have so much to learn, so many hits and falls to experience yet, but I know in the long run everything is for the better. The result is a more complete artist with a fuller sense of accomplishment.
What better reward than that, right? So if the journey is long and bumpy, I'm up to it! Always :o)

And that illustration you are working on is beautiful. I love the characters and specially the color scheme. Hope the unfinished parts are continuation of the neutrals because it looks amazing like this.

Jennifer said...

Great post, Kelly. (And great work in progress.) Actually I think a career is a work in progress! Good to be curious, resilient, persistent... all those things.

AWells said...

Great Advice, and thank you!

It kind of makes me happy in a way that I am starting out in such rough economic times- it has made me learn at a very quick rate, so maybe this will help us all get more savvy in the long run, and push us to be even better.

I hope that things work out for you in the place in Florida. I'm working an extremely lovely job in a marketing department for a national jewelry company right now, which is supposed to become permanent in January- but there is always that 'what if' factor- if business gets bad, I'll be out of luck.

Gina Perry said...

Excellent post Kelly. The type of advice that is important to hear at any stage in the game. I hope your freelance work continues - and if not, may it be replaced with something far more exciting. I've had a very positive outlook lately, so I'm sending those vibes your way too! Actually, I've always seen that freelancers do better than staff because of the low overhead and flexibility.

And your new piece is coming along really well. What a busy scene - so much to look at!