Creating & Marketing Free, Cheap or Fully Commercial Book Covers, Posters, Illustrations & Animated "Book Trailers"... using either iClone and/or CTA
[Now also including links to Paid & Unpaid Opportunities in that parallel industry, with grateful thanks for Reallusion's permission for me to post them all here in this thread]
PLEASE NOTE: this thread was originally in response to a request for more details from Pete on how to break into this market as a complete newbie
. But there are so many talented artists here with iClone & CTA, I thought what the heck, I'd write up my reply publicly in case it helps any other friends who may also be wondering...
Yes, as an iClone/CTA artist, marketing your work for all three sectors of the book industry or for movie posters and "book trailers" can be fun and rewarding no matter which path you take. But for different reasons. And as an artist/animator, it can be highly valuable to "get in good" with tomorrows stars by sticking close to their own shortcuts to the top.
How do I know?
Short answer: Trust me.... (insert evil daffy duck laughter) Less sinister response:
15 years of trekking the rough roads and highways of the book industry, from the depressing depths of rejection to the giddy peaks of commercial fandom, (including long loving embraces with 3 of "The Big Six"
, with several detours through dense jungles of mid-list publishers and holidays on the tropical beaches of self-publishing, and now also reaching for the stars to achieve a lifelong goal of learning to animate my own stories for the most accessible media platforms of all) - has taught me a few things.
First, that many people have far more talent than me, but seem to be stuck at their own crossroads, or lost out there in the wilderness.
Second, that using my own flickery little candle to light one for somebody else never diminishes my own. Quite the opposite, the shadowy corner of our world becomes brighter for us both. (... so says our old buddy Budda. Not that I'm a follower, but our paths do cross occasionally, at which time he usually laughs at the state I'm in...).
Third, and arguably the most enjoyable: that some people never listen to advice anyway, even if it's flashing in huge neon letters at their next fork in the road. But it's great to watch them blunder off into a minefield, and being able to shout at their corpse "I told you so!"
Seriously though, there's strength in numbers, inspiration in gatherings of creative thinkers and solace in a quiet corner with friends, so here are:
Not all at once, obviously. I do make a living writing suspense, after all.
(Cue more evil laughter... lightning flashes... thunder crashes... )Tip 1:
Tread the Freebie Forums for Indies with care. e.g. Wattpad
is a famously free resource for fledgling writers, book cover artists, and animators of book trailers - yes, that's a thing. And it can even include music video artists. (e.g. here's one for my MA-Rated pen-name that's chalked up a few hundred thousand views while the books themselves have been off collecting awards for science fiction and fantasy)...
But also beware, if the content you choose to post is a mish-mash of genres and target age-groups then you can often repel significant portions of your potential market who may adore one style and be totally repulsed/offended by another.
NOTE: The goal of Wattpad (and other similar sites I'll be mentioning), is to share *all* styles of writing and fan art for free
to readers... but many writers have no skills in cover art, "book trailer" animations or background music for their audio-editions, so there's always somebody posting a notice that they're willing to pay...
Sub Tip 1A: Posting a competition on Wattpad (or Goodreads
) for authors to win a free book cover or animation is a fast way to find talented writers who inspire you. But make sure their entries are limited to 50 words or less, and still manage to include details about who, where, when, why things happen in the part of the story they want to show int he trailer. And the ads often attract the attention of those who are also willing to pay.
Sub Tip 1B: Members range from ages 8 to 108, but you'd be wise to judge *all* by their talent, not their lifespan or language skills. Lest you need reminding of that 15 year old who sold her work to the publishers of Harry Potter for a million bucks and now has a 9 book deal.
And there are many similar success stories, most of whom love to take their favourite artists/animators along with them to continue a winning combination for the climb up the ladder.
Sub Tip 1C: the membership is so large, that even newbies can build vast followings of fans in weeks to months, depending on how often you post, and how many other similarly-styled members you Like/Friend/Fan. It can be exhausting, just trying to keep up, and obviously talent is the most valuable factor
, but it also pays to know your genres, choose your favourite & specialise.
Sub Tip 1D; If you want to specialise in more that one style at *any* of the free writer sites that I'll be mentioning - consider a pen-name, or batching similar works into their own albums, but launching and developing only one at first (for reasons too numerous to mention).
Sub tip 1E: The most popular genres on Wattpad are fantasy (especially supernatural fantasy of the vampire/werewolf/beastman variety), horror, romance, and virtually anything spelled with more than 3 X's... and by "popular" I mean savagely starving... so don't say anything to insult their favourite genres, or you'll win stalkers for life... Luckily, I've managed to dodge that bullet - so far - which is a miracle, considering how often I can upset a whole crowd just by walking in... but if you can post replies with clean, kind humour and no ambiguities their membership can also be quite forgiving. And then there is one genre that seems to trump all the others, if you happen to have been blessed by the rare gift, and that's comedy... or else you can just worker harder for longer to bleed and sweat more like me and most of my friends - including Sara Gruen, who fought like a true soldier to polish her work amid the grimy trenches of newbie forums for years before cracking the market with this charming record breaker
BEWARE: Pirates are rife, often unknowingly. e.g. A scary percent of members are too young/inexperienced to even know that copyright is a word in the dictionary. But the largest portion are just passionate fans who share their work for the love of it, and do so knowing it will never sell, so the rules rarely apply to them, except when they mistakenly upload "borrowed" music or clips to youtube to advertise their fan-fics.
Sub Tip 1F: If you dream of selling anything to a major publisher/studio one day, then don't engage with, or do any work for members who have already posted pirated clips or music because those major publishers & studios are watching the net to generate and maintain their blacklists of creators to avoid. Yes, they really have them, and you don't want your name on those lists, or you might as well brand the word "reject" on your forehead.
Sub tip 1G: Sometimes members can be wrong about writing something that think will never sell. e.g. A friend started with fan fiction for Stargate Atlantis, and was subsequently contracted by MGM to write 3 official books to provide backstory for one of the main characters; Rodney... And more success stories are posted on the Wattpad homepage faster than most mere mortals can keep up. But compared to the staggering number of members, it's still barely drops in the proverbial ocean.
which brings me to the coolest sub-tip for Newbies:
SubTip 1H (H for hottest Tip, haha): Many major publishers and film studios are also sick of waiting for agents to supply the "next big thing" so they now actively seek out the most popular-indies at several of the free resource sites, including Wattpad. That's also how, why and where the author of "50 Shades" first came to light, even though most major publishers/studios/agents would have sent rejection slips if they didn't have the proof and page-visit-statistics that Watpad provide free of charge to all members.
And thus we come to the end of Tip 1.
So if your brain feels ready to explode, go take time to play... and stay tuned for Tip 2, which many newbie illustrators have used to become pros almost instantly...
[Thunder crashes... Lightning flashes... Pan to darkening sky as storm approaches... and Fade Out]
Anita, aka "Bleetz" the Toon Wrangler @ Tarampa Studios
SYS: Win 8.1, 64-bit, i7-4770 CPU @3.4GHz,
32GB RAM, Intel(R)Graphics 4600 & nVIDIA GTX1060 TI
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