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Postcards and Emails and Starting out

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So, I've been perusing previous posts about sending postcards, and so I feel like I have it when it comes to what needs to go on a postcard, and what sites are good to use to print them. I've also found advice about how some ADs prefer emails, and I have the latest edition of Children's Writers and Illustrators Market.

I just don't know how to start, exactly. Do you just send them a postcard (or email, depending) for the first time around, or is it better to send them more information than that?

Also, what should I have ready before sending my first 'Hey! Hey!! Look over here!' postcard/email? I know I need to update my website and make it look more professionally "branded", design-wise, as well as needing to purchase a personalized domain name, but is there anything I'm missing? Would it be better to try to create a dummy book before sending anything out, or are just single illustration portfolio pieces okay? (I'm looking to illustrate for magazines, textbooks, and YA/grade school novels, as well as picture books.)
#1 - May 20, 2013, 02:42 PM

I draw stuff for chocolates.
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Make sure what is in your portfolio is appropriate for the jobs you want to get. I also suggest getting a EIN from the IRS and a dedicated phone number for your art business. I use Google phone. It was free when I signed up 3 years ago.

You also might want to sit down with a business mentor, look into registering yourself as a business and getting a PO box.

Your illustration work is amazing, but there is a lack of characters interacting with each other, you might want to add such images to your site as well. I have more tips on my blog, along with interviews from published illustrators you might find helpful as well.
#2 - May 21, 2013, 05:27 AM
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Hello Sam. Your work is beautiful! I believe you have enough images that tell a story with more than one character and spot illustrations as well. You do a wonderful job with action and drama in your scenes. The mood of the piece hits straight away. The only suggestion I'd have is to bring more scenes in with the same characters to show your consistency.

Postcard mailers are still a preference for Art Directors. One every two to three months helps them remember you.

Best to you!
#3 - May 21, 2013, 06:43 AM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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Wendy- Thank you for the advice! I hadn't heard about EINs before this - my college's business of illustration class just briefly mentioned 'It might be good to set up an LLC, I guess, if you want to do that', but that was it. There was so much they could have taught us with that class that they didn't even touch upon... Oh well, moving on  :gaah
Also, the advice about getting the PO box and other phone line is something I hadn't thought of. Thanks!

Your blog looks really helpful, and I think I may have actually read some of your posts before this, when I was perusing the internet for children's book tips and interviews!
I will definitely work on getting some more character interaction in there - I can see what you mean about the staticness between characters.
#4 - May 21, 2013, 07:37 AM

Cynthia- Thank you!! That makes sense; I will make sure to include some recurring characters/a series of illustrations within one storyline   ::-)

Okay, cool! So, I can just send them the first postcard without sending them portfolio pieces/cover letter/resumé (unless otherwise stated by the AD) to go with it?


I really appreciate the help, everyone =) Feel less like I'm wandering around in the dark, blindly waving my arms around and hoping that I don't trip over stuff.
#5 - May 21, 2013, 07:49 AM

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You're work is wonderful and your website is really clean and fast which is great- you did your research and sound like you know what you are doing- You don't need a dummy right now, unless you want to and your idea of a postcard is great- if you want you can do a packet to introduce yourself- a cover letter personalized to the AD, three or four color copies of work, in hopes they will start a file with it- you don't have to and can just start with a postcard directing them to your website-
Don't trust the Market guides- go on the websites and find their submission guidelines, they are kind of hidden- look for an "about us" tab, or contact tab- or type guidelines into a search engine if they have one- or at the bottom of most big websites look for a "sight map" table and look through there- only send an email link if they state so in their guidelines or get a email response back- after you send something through the mail-
Good luck-
One thing that is minor- your stuff if great but a little dark on the screen- experiment with how things look  printed on paper- before you invest in a huge mailing- local printers color copiers to a pretty good and cheap job now- sometimes I print my own stuff instead of using a big printer and committing to a large amount of the same post card. Hope that helps.
#6 - May 21, 2013, 10:26 AM

Julia- Awesome, thank you! Yeah, I worked on a super bright school mac screen throughout my school years, so that's been something I've tried to keep an eye out for/balance out to compensate (guess it still needs some work). Maybe I can get my own computer's screen calibrated to optimize the quality in print. I'll have to look into it. Though, most of the work that was up on the site printed pretty decently when I had to print my thesis book out for school, using Blurb books, so hopefully Moo (or whatever company I end up going with) handles them similarly?

And why would you advise against the Market guides? Just out of curiosity.
#7 - May 21, 2013, 02:50 PM

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Agreed. Your work is beautiful! You've already gotten a lot of great advice. Best of luck to you! (Not that you'll need it!)
#8 - May 22, 2013, 12:24 AM

I draw stuff for chocolates.
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The market guide information is over a year old by the time the books are released. (Information is collected in late 2012 for the Jan 2014 book release.) In recent years, the guides have been adding in small and micro publishers to bulk up the listings, as well. I stopped buying them in 2010 because they were becoming increasingly less useful and I'd have to spend hours double checking the accuracy of the listings.

My local librarian (who is amazing!) saves all her used copies of Publishers Weekly for me. The magazine's website also has twice weekly kid lit focused e-newsletters which you can sign up on for free. Information is both more accurate and timely.
#9 - May 22, 2013, 05:23 AM
patreon.com/wendymartin
Animal Totem Mandala 2016
The Story Circle 2016 (Piñata)
Color and Conjure 2017 (Llewellyn)

Wilson- Thank you!! It makes me really happy to hear that :love5:

Wendy- Oh, okay, that definitely makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the heads-up!
#10 - May 22, 2013, 10:50 AM

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>Okay, cool! So, I can just send them the first postcard without sending them portfolio pieces/cover letter/resumé (unless otherwise stated by the AD) to go with it?<

Yep!:)
Have your website url and your name on the postcard front but in a spot on your art that does not take away from the image. AD's will head to the site, learn all they need to know about you, your art and download images for print if they wish, so we don't need to send out packets of samples anymore:)
The "download/print" thing worried me when I heard it. I had always thought they perhaps just bookmarked or filed a site that they liked.
I don't think any of my images could be downloaded nor would print out well.
But... that's what I have heard is done.
#11 - May 23, 2013, 01:36 AM
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I'm also in the same situation as Sam (we're both Ringling graduates! woo!) and reading this thread and seeing all these comments has been very very helpful!
#12 - May 25, 2013, 08:39 PM

Cristi- Okay, awesome! That sounds doable =) Thank you!!

Amanda- YEAH, Ringling!!! =D
#13 - May 26, 2013, 07:06 AM

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woo! ::-)

This might be a stupid/silly question but is it frowned upon to address your promotional materials to just "Art Director" + the contact info for a publisher/company if you just can't seem to find the name of AD? just wondering if anyone has ever done that before?
#14 - May 26, 2013, 01:22 PM

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You can address to Art Director, or Art Department- it could be that a certain publishing house you send everything- both manuscripts to the Acquisition Dept. - you just need to check their guidelines on their website- I have a running folder in Outlook- that I try to keep updating when I finally do get the name of an Art Director- but mailing to mailing I always recheck.
#15 - May 26, 2013, 04:07 PM

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