Saturday, February 11, 2006

Things I've Learned-Part Three

(If you'd like to see more takes on the conference, check out Amy and Courtney. Ruth McNally Barshaw was sketching the entire time during the conference, it was amazing. She's the fastest pen in the west! I was in awe of her abilities.)
During Illustrator's Day, illustrator and art teacher Pat Cummings mentioned the quote, "the children's publishing industry is bunny eat bunny." Following this line of thinking, Marc Brown, creator of Arthur, hosted an informal workshop the last day of the conference. It was very educational. Here are a couple of interesting thoughts:
1. Publishers will take advantage of you, if you let them.
2. Set up every contract as if it were your "home-run", and as if your editor won't be there tomorrow.
3. Read the contracts. Yes, your agent is there to do that, but you should look over something that has such an impact on your art and your life.
4. Keep in mind the market your book is going to be sold in; retail runs lower percentage.
5. Find a lawyer to look over your contract. If you have to choose between an agent (who you will pay 10-15% for an unknown length of time) or a lawyer(one-time fee); choose the lawyer.
6. Look for an audit clause in your contract. This puts a limit on the length of time alotted to you and a royalty auditor to review your contract for any royalty mistakes. (an audit is not unusual in the publishing industry.)
8. An escalation clause is a good thing. It states that you will sell a certain number of books, and after that, you go up to another royalty rate.
9. If your books become successful, talk to your publisher about a group contract (like a six-book, fixed figure contract)
10. Think about all of this before you sign your contract!

On a lighter note, Marc also discussed creating art for children. He mentioned the following:
1. Tune in to what's going on around you.
2. Pick up details from everyday life and stick it in your art.
3. "The story is the foundation of which a picture book is built."
4. He uses an idea drawer where he store random inspiration pieces.
5. Never talk down to kids.

(If you're interested in more legal resources, check out this site.) I have one more post to go. I hope your guys are enjoying this as much as I did!

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