On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Catugeau Artist Agency will answer questions and talk about things illustrators need to know to further their career. It could be a question about an illustration you are working on, too. Please email your questions to me and put ASK CAT in the subject box.
LOCAL PUBLISHER QUESTION: Julie has a most interesting question actually = She has written and illustrated a book almost ready to publish with a local publisher, but she’s been getting advice that is might hurt her chances of getting it published by a national publisher later.
Without knowing WHAT the story is (local interest only?) and the reason the local publisher is so interested initially, it’s hard to answer this. Generally though, when you publish you share/sell the copy rights to the publisher so they can market the project and make money. They the pay you your % of the royalty if it’s that sort of project, or if it’s flat fee, you get only the initial payments up front. In either case the copy rights, as I’m generally understanding this, will be with the publisher to use. You can not resell the rights until the publisher’s contracted time frame is complete, or book is OUT OF PRINT. You can possibly negotiate to limit this time frame (say two to three years etc.) and the have the copy rights revert to you …if they are willing. National publishers do sometimes buy another’s project because it’s timely, or has done exceptionally well in the market with the smaller publisher (or self publisher ) but I believe this is rather rare. Again, it depends on the story and sales record. But if it meets the National Publishers needs I’d think they’d have been interested initially. If you haven’t tried to sell it to National Publishers you might want to do this before letting the local pub. print the book. Unless, of course, they have been paying you to complete this project for them. If the subject matter is more a local interest then publishing locally might be the best plan.
Julie also asked about 1. traditional vrs. digital means of illustrating and 2. She wonders if ‘realism’ is appropriate in picture books and where usually used.
#2 first – OF COURSE it is! oh so many books have been illustrated in a very realistic manner even this year! Trends now lean heavily on more ‘cutting edge,’ highly unique styles of illustration that are less ‘realistic’ perhaps. They are very personal and emotive and wonderful, but even Realism (and there are SO many ways to be realistic!) can have some of these elements in them. Ads interest.
We see more realistic styles in nonfiction often because the FACTS of the image are important for the information shared in the story, or with more ‘classic’ sort of stories. But any story has MANY appropriate styles of illustration possible for it. Give the same manuscript to 10 different editors and they will pick 10 different artists to illustrate it! and ALL might possibly be just wonderful! Work in the style YOU feel is right for the story and you.
#1…. When I started out in this industry 25 years ago MOST all Trade picture books (those by big publishers for bookstores mostly) were done in traditional means i.e. watercolor, pastel, oil, actual cut paper etc. Digital styles were used most often for educational projects. This very quickly began to change as the quality of the digital art improved and the artist was able to do more with it artistically. I remember visiting NYC one trip and showing of a then new illustrator who is still with our agency, Patrice Barton. Patty works digitally, but her work has a soft, spontaneous, adorable quality that the trade editors and art directors, and buyers, just love. I’d let them gush over her work, and THEN state “oh, and did I mention she is digital?” EVERY TIME, they’d pull the samples closer to their eyes as if that would make a difference in what they were seeing. I had to laugh! and so did they….then they signed her up!
Today a majority of even trade books might be done digitally, but many are still done in traditional painting methods as well. Some times changes are made digitally to these pieces which can be helpful, but there IS original art that can hang on the wall! Often this art is still physically sent to the publisher to be scanned for printing …. with the color being very carefully matched to the original work. If you have this situation as illustrator you want to be sure to get the ‘color proofs’ sent to you to ‘OK’ as well. As a fine artist myself, I just love the traditional mode of illustrating, but I’m MOST appreciative also of the creative doors digital manipulation can open for artists and publishers.
Again, an artist wants to work with the tools with which they can best express what they wish to make visual. It is the story being told and shown that is of upmost importance today….not the method by which it is developed.
Thank you Chris and Christy for more great answers.
NOW SIT DOWN AND WRITE UP YOUR QUESTIONS FOR “ASK CAT.”
Hope this illustration by Lauren Gallegos will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy. Lauren was featured on Illustrator Saturday in 2016. and 2012. Take a look.