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Top 10 Tips on how to market your art as book covers

Posted By Tarampa Studios 4 Years Ago
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Peter Blood
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Wow! This is a wealth of great information. Smile

It'll take me a day or so to re-read and embed it all into my brain but please keep your tips coming as I am extremely interested in how to get started with this. I'm glad that Peter cleared the way for you because, for me, this is extremely important information and all the more so because it is coming from an artist that has walked the walk.

Thank you so much for posting it. Wink

Cool pete

 Question - How many pieces would you suggest I have in a portfolio of a particular genre before I bring attention to it? 


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peterblood (6/18/2015)
  Question - How many pieces would you suggest I have in a portfolio of a particular genre before I bring attention to it? 


As a newbies, I'd suggest:

1 Portfolio; with 3 Folders -

And inside each folder, either 3, 5 or 9 images...

arranged in rows of 3... 

and no, that 5 is not a typo for 6... if you have 6, it looks like that's all you've got. But if you have 5, it suggests you've got another one on the way soon, which will raise a question in their mind about what it might be... and the publishing industry thrives on raising questions to make readers turn the next page... 

but don't do that with 9, because 9 is 3 X 3, which is valuable from a market perspective (see link below). 

This is also because they thrive on metaphors and motifs... love em like candy and chocolates... 

And here's some of the reasons why it also works commercially. 

In your case, as we discussed earlier, I'd suggest that your folders could be Historical fiction - for your tallship themes + Sci-Fi to make use of your fabulous new models... and I don't know... what does your gut and heart agree that the third genre should be..?  If you've got no idea - perhaps try your hand at game-of-thrones style fantasy or supernatural romance (you know, vampires or beast-men)... because they're so popular and you might just have another hidden talent, or strike a chord as something fresh and new. 

Also... if you happen to create a really super-sexy new kind of beast-alpha-male in the throes of rescuing - or being rescued by - a fair maiden... then it's possible that a writer could be hired to provide the story. 



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Tip 3: By the Book - The Second Official Way to Approach Publishers to sell your art (if you don't have an agent).

And by book, I mean the actual book: Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. 

http://d4rri9bdfuube.cloudfront.net/assets/images/book/large/9781/4081/9781408192450.jpg

Yes, it says UK Edition BUT, don't be scared. It includes publishers from all English Speaking Countries. So it's even better than the USA version, (if you can find a US edition, they changed their name and I can't recall it off the top of my head)... although the Australian Writers Marketplace is also manages to list many that the others missed. But either way, you'll only need them in your first year or so, because once you get your first sales, it's hard to stop the opportunities from flooding in. 

e.g. Here's a link for it at the Book Depository, where postage is free to anywhere in the world (unlike Amazon, which is only Free to the USA). 

But you don't need to "Buy the book" to go by the book... if you pardon the pun. Because it's available to read for free at every public library in the world. And even if they don't have the most recent edition (some sites have the 2015 edition listed as a pre-order), they can often order the most recent edition in at no expense to you, or else any previous edition they might have from the last 3 years is usually good enough. One of mine is the 1999 edition but it's still valuable enough that I haven't tossed it, and probably won't because it also gives me a history of the any companies I choose to deal, because:

This book is a bible.

It has several indexes - which is bizarre for most books. But the first index is alphabetical. Another index groups everyone by their genre - e.g. horror publishers, romance publishers (arguably the same thing, haha)...  and then there's an index for publishers of books, another for publishers of magazines... 

And then in the body of the bible... where all the juice leaks from every page... you get all the details you need: 
Who & where they are. 
The type of work they publish.
How to submit to them,  including;
Names & addresses,

If they permit email submissions, then you also get email addies to help bypass the "slush pile" of other submitting artists...

Sub Tip 3A: Phone numbers are also provided - but try not to use them. Because those publishers have already put everything you need to know on their submission pages, so if you need to call, it better be about something they missed for you as an artist, or else their pen is reaching straight for their blacklist.

Sub-tip 3B: If they're listed in the Yearbook, then you can be 99% sure they're reputable companies, because they get blacklisted fairly promptly if they're not. 

Which also takes us straight to Tip 4:








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Tip 4: A third Option for survival as an indie writer/artist: 

Let the Predators and Editors Website be your shining light. 

http://pred-ed.com/predlogo100.jpg
This site was established by a volunteer, who is now very highly regarded in the publishing industry. The reputable companies love this site, while scam artists are always trying to tear it down. Many have tried lawsuits, but I strongly suspect that several of the "Big Six" have quietly come to the rescue on a rare occasion or two. (Their legal teams comprise the cream of best legal minds in every country). However the site and its current small army of volunteers are certainly ferocious enough to take care of themselves. They've even posted a copyright warning against AOL, which can still be seen  here.

And it's all to look after *you* as a member of our community - especially if you're a vulnerable newbie - and to ensure there shall always be a free resource which strives to name and shame any publisher/agent/festival/competition etc that tries to rip off a member of our artistic community. 

Step 1) Use the alphabetical listing from the link above to seek out publishers who may be interested in your type of art, then google the publisher to find their specific "submission guidelines".  

Step 2) Always double-check the site before signing a contract with anybody you've never dealt with before. 

Step 3) If you are treated badly by a company that isn't listed, then please be swift in letting them know. 

Sub Tip 4A: If this site says a company is "strongly not recommended" for writers, then treat them like the plague for artists too. 

Sub Tip 4B: check out all the other cool stuff in their menus and you'll have an instant free introductory course to surviving as a writer or artist. 

Their biggest warnings about the industry are HERE

If you're tempted to sign up with a job service (shiver in fear for you), read their register here first.  

And they also have a helpful listing of Game publishers, and organisations who regularly seek and/or market art only.  





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Tip 5: How to Turn "Unsolicited" Work into "Solicited"

(wihout needing an agent)

Many major publishers state on their webpages that "Unsolicited Manuscripts" will not be accepted... sometimes they even need to shout this statement in bold capitals and red font, because many writers think the rules don't apply to them.

But if you think your particular situation is so different that the rules don't apply to you in your current instance (whatever that is), then please read the previous sentence again, while pretending that it's written in bold red capital letters on a neon flashing notice board shoved up under your nose, with buzzers and alarms going off in your ears, and electrodes connected to your nipples...

 - and with my finger hanging ready over the "zap" switch...  


Because... if you break the rule, you get recycled/blacklisted, which also means that somebody also hit that "zap" switch on your nipples.  

However, it's possible to bend this rule: 

e.g. If the publisher refuses to accept unsolicited manuscripts, then all you have to do is turn your unsolicited manuscript into a solicited manuscript.

And you can do that, simply by asking;


Dear Mr Ed Itor, 

I noticed your promotion in the 2015 Writers' and Artists' Year Book
(don't forget those apostrophes or else there's a high chance you just got rejected), and I'm wondering if your previous career interests in tall ships might also have some relevance to your current position as historical editor at Blah-Blah & Co. If so, I'm hoping you might be interested in taking a look at my portfolio of "Tall Ships through the Centuries", the link for which is blah-d-blah.com 

with appreciation for your time,
I.C. Loner. 

 

And there are many other reasons why you might think that your work is a perfect fit for them.

So here are some of the acceptable ways to find your reason:
 
Acceptable: 
1) Polite Stalking via the web - just seeking out the contact names at each company, what they currently seem to like, and their previous career choices for hints at what they've liked in the past - so you can approach them via an email, but only if you feel that your work is a good fit. 

2) Seeking out the festivals they've been to, youtube videos of their previous guestspeaking events, and calendars where they'll appear next, so you can attend, if possible.


Unacceptable:
* Accidentally bumping into them somewhere while conveniently clutching your portfolio.  
* Posting bottles of wine/beer/coffee for them to enjoy while perusing your work - while enclosing your work. 
* Showing up at their place of work without an appointment
* Calling for an appointment 
* Hiding in a mascot's uniform to approach them "anonymously" 
* Leaving a portfolio on the windscreen of their car
* Dropping it on their cafe table as you walk past in their lunch hour

and here's the two that most newbies fall for most often: 
* Taking your portfolio to festivals with the deliberate intention of making sure somebody gets it
* Taking several copies

... and the reasons why those last two points earn more rejections than anything else, is because this is the most convenient and efficient method for you... emphasis on *you*... and shows no hint of concern for them - even though they are the VIP's and they are the ones travelling far from home with baggage limit restrictions and arms full of their own gear. 

Sub Tip 5A: Always have a postcard/ bookmark/ business card inside your wallet/laptop bag to give them - and only if they ask you for it.  Otherwise, enjoy your chat with them, if you're lucky enough to get that chance. Offer to send them your link after the event, at a time that's convenient to them. And then do that instead.
 
Then when you do, be considerate that they just met 15,000 other attendees who were all brilliant in one way or another. So start by; 

Dear Mr Ed Itor, 
RE: Portfolio link as requested

It was such a pleasure to meet you after your session on "How to Blow up Tall Ships" at the Con-of-all-cons...
. (or whatever half-sentence is all it takes to prompt their memory and make you stand out as memorable,) where we laughed about your need for more artwork to destroy (or whatever he said to request your work, or whatever you said to make him laugh/smile/cry or whatever positive emotional response you triggered..) So here's a link for a sample, which I hope will make you go ballistic - in a good way. 
yours with canons loaded,
I.C. Loner. 



Sub Tip 5B: If you've noticed a tendancy for recommending humour in covering letters, that's because it's harder for them to say no, while they're smiling. But if you don't feel confident with humour, that's okay. Just be friendly, courteous and considerate, because you are not just offering the sale of your art. You are proposing that an ongoing working relationship is up for grabs.  

Sub Tip 5C: And this is a biggie:
Never state the f#ing obvious. 

examples:
a) I'm sending this to you... duh! He's got it hasn't he? Instead try; Attached please find... 

b) I hope you enjoy perusing my work as much as I enjoyed making it... duh! or else you sent it without caring what he thinks.

Instead, just sign off with a short clean professional, yours faithfully (never sincerely unless you really feel that emotional about it) Or better yet, create an image that says it all for you; 

e.g. I recently scored my first *animation* sale using a simple smiley face, my nickname and this friendly chap:

Smile Ani
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/0a70894d-d4a9-4873-8695-9e10.png












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Edited
4 Years Ago by Bleetz
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... also, apologies for any weird formatting / font sizes etc on these last 3 posts... Something weird going on with my screen.  or is it happening in all of the forums today? 


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TIP 6: Avoiding Rejection

First, some terminology for newbies:

Rejection = No
Yes = a pay day.

So to get a Yes, try to reduce their reasons to say no... which is a heck of a lot harder than it sounds. 

First - do everything they ask in their submission harp-harp... guide harp-harp... lines. 

It also helps to avoid words which suggest there is already a subtle conflict involved:
so avoid using: 
* but 
* although,
* depending 
* however
... unless you can put a positive spin on it, where both options are fantastic...

Solution: try deleting the word, and if the sentence still makes sense then you don't need it. Maybe you only need a full stop and new sentence - or maybe start a new paragraph - to give them the chance to prepare for a new thought, without suggesting that it might argue with something you just said. 

Sub Tip 6A: If your email needs to be scrolled to read it all, then you increase the chance for rejection, because you're insufficiently skilled to *show* your work through brevity and/or illustration. 

Sub Tip 6B: Try to imagine that when your email arrives with the publisher, they have just hung up on a pest who keeps bothering them, while their favourite three stars just came and offered to buy lunch, but they only have an hour before they need to catch their flight...  and now you've only got 3 seconds to look appealing, so they save your email to read later, instead of reaching for their big red instant-auto-reject button as they fly out of the office to enjoy one of the few perks in their thankless job. 



As animators, we know that a lot can happen on a timeline in 3 seconds. Same goes with those first few words of your email - which also explains why all of my suggested covering letters in this thread have a subtle poetic rhythm which you're welcome to mimic - because publishers can't start the rhythm without needing to hear the end... and that can often suck them into reading 3 sentences instead of merely 3 seconds. 

Don't make it obvious... even just two words that start with the same letter (called alliteration) can make it more pleasant to read - and hence harder to say no. 

But above all, expect to be rejected anyway - specifically expect it at least 147 times for your first work because that's what happened to me back in the dark ages...

(actually, let's rename this entire tip: Striving for Rejection)... because that's how door-to-door salesmen and cold-callers make a living (by knowing the statistics for success and being prepared to suffer all the slammed-doors and hang-ups until they find the ones who say yes...

and because if you succeed with a low number of rejections as a first timer, I'll turn green with jealousy.
And so will a kazillagosquillion other writers and artists who were in line ahead of you. 

SubTip 6C: Show them you're fantastic without needing to tell them.

Warning: If you feel the need to review your own work during the submission, even if it's only by using an embellishing adjective - e.g. "my stunning portfolio of corpses" - then please go back to Tip 5C: Re Stating the f#'ing obvious. Duh! You wouldn't be sending anything for publication unless it was worthy. 

In the meantime, it also helps to understand that the very largest portion of writers and artists who submit to publishers, flooding their in-boxes daily, are political wannabes, frustrated retirees, children, or clinically insane. Sometimes they fit more than one category.

So yes, there will be days when you need to console yourself with this wise advice from Mad Magazine's standard rejection letter

http://www.oddee.com/_media/imgs/articles2/a97151_g101_1-mad.jpg


Now you've got enough basics to get out there, rack em and stack em. I have a big contract to fulfill this week, so I'll only be able to pop in briefly now and then. Maybe you'll all be sick of these tips by then.

But if not, please Like or Rank whichever posts you've found helpful, and then I'll also have a better idea of how much detail to put into the rest when I get back... Smile 

Good Luck!!


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https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/7f496a7c-469a-43f5-9c07-f97b.jpg


Crikey! I barely set aside my keyboard, and this hot news hits my desk: 

The Annual Illustrator's Competition by Five Mile Press is specifically for newbies.

Prize: AU$4000 and a Contract to be Published. 


The goal is to find undiscovered talent, so you can't be published or have book contracts in any country.

Yes, they usually prefer to nurture Australian Illustrators - but their door is not closed to foreign submissions.  They even hint it with the last line of their entry form. And they only hint it, because that way they don't get flooded by foreign applicants.  Most foreign artists stop reading on the previous page. 

In Australia, the term "Five Mile" usually means that you're based 5 miles out of town - which is a joke when the city is wider than 5 Miles - but this publisher is highly reputable and has grown from a small press to a solid market contender in the past decade.  

Check out all the categories for their current best-sellers and you'll understand why I believe that iCloners AND Crazytalkers both have a shot here. 

... except this thread is hidden away in the iClone thread - my bad - so if somebody knows any crazytalkers who might be interested, could you please draw their attention to this link. 


Thanks, and Bye for now... again. 
Smile




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Edited
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Peter Blood
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Man, that is a lot of super advice. I'll re-read it all a bunch of times and save the text for reading later. Smile

Thank you again for all of the time and effort you've put into answering my questions. I'm especially appreciative of the detailed advice you provide for side-stepping the pitfalls of the process. Also very useful are your revelations on the mindset of the publishers. I'm eagerly waiting to absorb any and all information you may yet post.

 Yours faithfully Wink

Cool pete


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Wow, what a busy month!  So here's a quick update:

Tip 7: Crafting a Book by its Cover

When you're proposing cool cover-art, keep in mind there are "4 art faces" to every book:  

* Front Cover
* Back Cover
* Spine
* Gilt Edgings to the block of pages

These days, books are published without any fancy gilt edgings to their pages, (sometimes still seen on the sides of expensive hard-covers, encyclopaedia, bibles...) however, it is possible in some publishing houses for the side of the "block of pages" to be printed with custom images or coloured paterns, which can be a feature in childrens' books, fantasy novels, or cookbooks (e.g. different coloured gilt edges for entrees/main meals/deserts...)

While designing your concept covers, it can also be easy to forget that the spine and back-cover also exist, and they can be really cool if you think of them as a whole project as well as individual images for front, back & spine:

e.g. Have you considered a wrap-around image?
Here are 3 styles but google and you'll find many more: 

Perspective spread from back to front across spine: 
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/9ec37551-29ad-4ed2-b00c-3cee.jpg

Panorama Style with main focus of the image offset on the front cover:
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/72686fa6-fae0-43cc-9311-8616.jpg

Reflection front & Back: 
This one is not a great example, but it serves well enough as inspiration for treating the whole cover as a single image. 
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/1971a0bd-f8d7-4292-9d43-3cfc.png

Sub-Tip 7A: You won't know how thick to make a spine until after the page edits have been locked in, so make sure you set up your photoshop files to treat the front, back and spine as 3 layers which can be shifted and resized later to suit all the various sized book version which may be needed later.

Sub-Tip 7B: Each publisher will provide you with their own specific image requirements prior to publication, but until then, just choose a cover from any book they have already published and use the proportions from it as your rough template. 

Sub-Tip 7C: The story summary on the back cover is called a "blurb", and the most successful blurbs are usually short and sweet, and limited to either 1, 3 or 5 short paragraphs + an optional "hook" which can be either a sub-title, theme, punchline, slogan, quote or pitch, but the hook is usually 3 to 8 words, and rarely longer than 12 words. It's not your job to write the blurb, but it can help if you design a set of nice matching fonts with room to place the blurb as soon as it is available from the editor, and just use your sample fonts on the cover for things like "Title Goes here", Pen-Name Font, Subtitle Font & "Blurb goes here"... 





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Edited
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