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Category Archives: science fiction

Trends – New bends in the path to publication. By J.R.Poulter

Some time last year, Erica Wagner, Publisher at Allen and Unwin, was reported as having said, in relation to graphic novels, that there was a lot to be gained by submitting a  text already illustrated or mostly illustrated [Allen & Unwin publish purely commission only picture books]. Perhaps this may signal a change in direction that may even extend to those other illustrated tomes – picture books and picture book/graphic novel crossovers.

Some writers/illustrators I know have recently signed contracts for ‘print ready’ books.  This is not self-publishing, nor submission to a print-on-demand house but submission to a traditional, royalty paying publisher of a book that is ‘ready to go’ in publishing terms.

What constitutes a ‘print ready’ book?  It is a book that has been –

  • professionally edited,
  • proofread,
  • designed to industry standards,
  • professionally designed cover and,
  • if illustrated, has all images appropriately set.

This is a great way to go for authors who are able to pay illustrators and book designers up front. Most authors are not able to do this.  This then means all creators involved in a book project agreeing to royalty share and working between paid projects to collaborate on their book.

What have I gleaned about such ‘print ready’ deals? One company, smaller and reasonably new, offered a small advance and a good contract, by industry standards, with higher than regular royalty share for creators. An offer of help with promotion was also part of the deal. Another company, medium sized and established, offered no advance but better than average royalty shares for creators and help with promotion and marketing of the book.

How does this stack up against what is generally on offer now?

  • Small and middle range publishers, in general, do not offer advances.
  • Larger publishers offer advances depending on the book, depending on the author, and depending on the agent involved.
  • Smaller and middle range publishers often [there are exceptions] expect the author to do it all in relation to promotion, even requiring the submission of a marketing plan.
  • Larger publishers vary greatly as to how much promotion they will give a book.
  • Generally, publishers will submit copies of their publishing output for major awards, such as the CBCA, and to a selection of leading review outlets.

What’s the down side for author, illustrator, book designer, [often the illustrator], to go down the  ‘print ready’ publishing path?

  • It IS a lot of extra work for all creators involved to ensure the book is ‘professional’ standard even before it is submitted.
  • There is no money upfront.

Are the rewards worth the effort?

  • If you love collaborative work, it is a big plus.
  • Creators have much more project control to create the book they have collaboratively envisaged.
  • A quality product, ‘print ready’,  is a major bargaining point for creators/agents. ‘Print ready’ saves the publisher heaps!

The first company mentioned does small print runs, sells out their print runs, reprints and even sells out reprints and so it seems to be gradually snowballing.

It is too early to know in the second instance.  [I’ll keep you posted!]

My feeling is that, if Erica Wagner was sensing a ‘trend’ and if these companies make a success of it, we will see more such deals.  It’s something to think about!

My own news –

TOOFS!-Promo-3To be launched end of June – “Toofs!” a collaboration between J.R. and Estelle A.Poulter and illustrators Monica Rondino and Andrea Pucci.

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Summer Reading Club 2012/13 – Untangled Tales is choc full of holiday awesomeness

The Untangled Tales website is the best  of the Summer Reading sites. Going over the site, was like being in one of the famous ‘But WAIT, there’s more!’ advertisements! At every click of the mouse, there was more and all of it FREE! There is something here for children of all ages [preschool, primary, secondary], for their parents, teachers and librarians. The site is gorgeous [literally] to look at, easy to navigate, entertaining in content and layout and engagingly informative!

The Celebrity Corner  questions brought out the creative quirkiness of authors and illustrators in a very entertaining way and featured a very diverse group of creatives!

The Untangled Tales game is a blast – great fun! It challenges memory and  prods research capabilities and informs about other cultures, their customs and attitudes as reflected in their  fairytales and legends.

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Check out the  side tabs and their drop down menus – there is heaps and heaps of  fun activity, fantastic tales, playful poetry and fanciful stories, arty opportunities, creative competitions in writing and art activities and painless learning along the way!!

I’m thrilled to be part of this  year’s Summer Reading Club. I’m in Celebrity Corner with Kerry Brown, Christian Bocquee [with whom I am collaborating in our own Fractured Fairytales collection], Terry Denton, Lucia Masciullo and numbers of other wonderfully creative folk!

Illustrators’ Alert – Nami Island Concours – Nambook Festival

Opportunity for Illustrators internationally - Nami Island Concours

Opportunity for Illustrators internationally – Nami Island Concours

The wonderful people of Nami Island Concours have created another outstanding opportunity for illustrators all over the world! The dream of these folk, who are so passionately devoted to children’s literature, is to  turn Nami Island into a library! 🙂 Angela Kim is the  Assistant Manager and the person to contact if you wish to know more – her contact details are on the website.

These are the links  – Nami Island Concours, Guidelines and information

Application forms

Festival information

You can find the brochure by going here.

Luvverly LISTS for Writers and Illustrators!

Hi Everyone! 🙂

Lists can be extremely useful, especially when they are constantly being updated!

Here are SIX such.

The first, compiled by the enterprising and enthusiastic Brain Grove, is a list of US publishers who are currently accepting submissions for children’s books – http://j.mp/SVbnCk  – he also, very helpfully, adds links to each entry to take you straight to the site.  I also recommend his ebook on  query /submission letter writing.

A second list, an international one, that is  regularly updated is on Lou Treleaven’s Blog:

http://loutreleaven.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/childrens-publishers-accepting-unsolicited-manuscripts/

The third,  a veritable database of bloggers who interview and/or review, is continuously being updated by the very proactive authors, Delin Colon and Lisa Kalner Williams – http://bit.ly/writerinterviewopps …

Fourth – a database of legends and folktales – if you are looking for inspiration for twists on fairytales or legends, fables etc – here is a whole swag!

Fifth – oh this one is an essential! The inimitable Katie Davis’s Tool Kit is  linked out under 5 ‘HEADLINE’ headings!!

If you haven’t joined www.jacketflap.com, I highly recommend it – an excellent networking site for all things related to children’s literature and books.

Latest addition, number six, Rachelle Burk has a wonderful resource site –  http://www.resourcesforchildrenswriters.com/ –  her awarded list of wonderfully helpful links is truly encyclopaedic!

Get busy and good luck!

Wow of a launch results in 3 titles in reprint already!

Andrea has gotten it spectacularly right! The CEO of Tell Me a Story launched 10 new titles on 30th June, this year. I was privileged to be guest speaker at an event that had even seasoned politicians, Ian Rickuss, MP Lockyer, and Steve Jones, Mayor, Lockyer Valley Regional Council,  commenting on attendance numbers!

Assembled authors, illustrators and guest panelists with Andrea Kwast

Muza Ulasowski [Panelist] and Guest Speaker, J.R.Poulter

The audience was rapt. I have seldom been at a publishing event where everyone’s eyes shone! Andrea has the  devoted support of her very wide community of readers and growing. She also has the  good fortune to have a very devoted group of assistants in administrator, Rel, and local photographer and budding author herself, Jenni Smith.

Research and innovation, preparedness to think out of the box, are hallmarks of Andrea and her team. She believes stories are lurking everywhere and it just takes the right determination, editing and dedication to bring them out. That she is succeeding over and above expetaction is more than demonstrated by the sellout and reprint, within the first few weeks since the launch, of no fewer than 3 titles!

Hearty Congratulations Andrea and Team and to all her authors – keep writing!

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Ian Beck, Award Winning Illustrator, Describes the Creative Process as Bestselling Author

Ian Beck on Visualizing the Characters in his YA novels,  

Hi Ian,

Hearty congratulations on the release of your two new YA novels, both in the one year! That is some achievement! I’m fascinated by  how you come up with such a range of amazing and vastly different characters and all so vividly drawn.  

Do you ‘see’ with your illustrator’s eye, the characters before you flesh them out? What part of the author is still the illustrator? Does the  novel roll out in movie sequence in your mind?

I do see the characters quite clearly and I watch them move about in my head too, so in a sense it is a little like watching an inner cinema sequence  but not quite, not entirely. At the same time you are questioning their motivations and inner lives, thoughts etc so it is also like seeing an x ray of the character too, all very hard to explain and much more like a waking dream than a film, and one which you are able to leave and enter again at will. The story certainly rolls out in movie like sequences, a chunk at a time but not necessarily in the narrative order, which is where the importance of editing comes in, the shaping and reordering and the advice and admonitions of the third eye, your editor, which is the vital spark. I could never publish my drafts without the benefit of my editor’s input.

Firstly, the characters in “The Hidden Kingdom” [see review below]-  

What was the origin of Prince Osamu, the arrogant prat turned soldier king?

The whole book started with a single  sentence.  I wrote it for inclusion in a book which was intended to kick start ideas in children and encourage their own writing . The original sentence went something like, ‘The Prince woke to the howling of wolves’, and I thought, ‘well I would like to write that story myself and see what happens’, and so my Prince was the first settled character around which the story built. I imagined him as  a pampered princeling in a fairy tale forced to confront something very big but I wasn’t sure what it might be at the beginning of the process.

Why Baku and the Snow Maiden? Is this a tip of the hat to the Brothers Grimm with their tales of transformation and  tragic love, thinking particularly of The Little Mermaid, but with role reversal?

Not quite, Baku and the Snow Maiden were in a separate book, based on a Japanese myth story.  It was only after working on both discretely for  a few months that I realised in a flash of inspiration, (which now seems obvious but didn’t at the time), that they belonged in the same book as Prince Osamu.

Lissa, the warrior maid, is a thoroughly modern miss.  What were her antecedents?

I think Lissa is to me quite clearly based on the character and beauty of Zhang Zi Yi in the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, that is exctly how I saw her  in my mind, fiery and difficult, but dedicated to the saving of the Prince even though she begins the story despising his weakness.

Secondly, the lead roles in the very visually realized, “The Haunting of Charity Delafield” [see review below]-

Charity Delafield, is a quintessential heroine for a disaffected generation. The working woman’s children, tossed from home to childcare, child care to school and back and never long enough in one place to identify with it as ‘home’, whom I suspect ask ‘Who is Mum? Is she really the hollow eyed lady who picks me up late afternoon/early evening, rushes me through dinner to bed and pulls me out in the morning, drives me and drops me off with a stress fraught kiss and a wave?’  Charity is a brave new kind of heroine, finding her way, finding herself. In a seemingly disaffected world.  What inspired her?

Charity began life as picture book idea. I had drawn some rough sketches of a girl in a long red coat out in the snow in an old fashioned formal garden. I liked the place and time of the story, the only difficulty was that there was no story. At about the same time my daughter started leaving notes for the Fairy she believed to be in the house and I started to leave replies in minute hand writing, which developed into a nice game. I mentioned them to my agent and she thought it might be worth developing as a book. My editor at Random House, Annie Eaton, always liked the initial drawings and would occasionally enquire if I had done anything with them. After I had finished the Tom Trueheart books, I finally saw a way to develop the story as a novel with the girl in the red coat in the garden. It went through three very different drafts before it was finished.

Do you ever get tempted to ‘storyboard’ the creation of your characters in the way you used to ‘storyboard’ illustrations to a picture book?

I do have visual avatars of my characters in mind usually a strange amalgam of bits of drawings and half remembered films, or people I know or have known and so on.

Have any of your own doodles or sketches actually inspired one of your book characters?

In the case of Charity Delafield certainly yes.

How do you go about plotting a story or does it just flow through mind to pen as if you are scribing from a screening?

I am very much a ‘gardening’ type of author. Apparently there are two kinds of author, Architects and Gardeners.  Architects plan carefully, and gardeners scatter seed and wait for the growth. I tend to plan in retrospect, what Bernard Cornwell calls ‘putting doors in alleyways’.

Finally, what are you creating for readers right now?

I am working on several things. One is a book of my own poetry (for grown ups) called, Behind The Dusty Glass. This will be  a limited edition and finely printed on heavy paper, illustrated by me too, and in the case of the special copies each illustration will be hand coloured by me as well.

Click here for a preview of  poem and illustration for  “Behind the Dusty Glass”:  “Flora at Kings X” by Ian Beck from forthcoming “Behind The Dusty Glass”

pattern paper, mono, for cover

Ian Beck’s design of pattern paper, mono, for cover of his “Behind the Dusty Glass”

I am also publishing a book of poetry which I have written as if I were someone else; namely the husband of Lucia in the Mapp & Lucia books of the 1930s by E F Benson. He is called Pepino by Lucia and his book is called Fugitive Lyrics. The poems are mentioned in the novel and the appearance of the book is minutely described. He is dead and Lucia wants to be found reading the poems in her grief but can’t untie the ribbon on the binding. My late Brother in Law, Jonathan Gili, always wanted to see the fictional book made real and so it is being created in his memory as an elaborate spoof. I have also illustrated the poems and, again, specials will have hand colouring. I am also writing two novels. One is called The Sky Stone and is set in the 1300s, a big adventure story about art, lapis lazuli, and a fallen warrior which will be published by  Oxford University Press. For Random House I am hoping to write a series of stories collectively called; The Casebooks of Captain Holloway about a top secret department during world war two in London dealing with the mysterious and the occult and the inexplicable. The first will (I hope) be called The Disappearance of Tom Pile.  I also hope to write the story of the Sweep’s boy Silas and what happens to him up to and after the Charity Delafield story.

Thank you Ian! We have a feast to look forward to! Keep us posted! 🙂

Other books by Ian Beck – “Tom Trueheart” series Past World”!   

Review – The Hidden Kingdom, by Ian Beck

The Hidden Kingdom

The Hidden Kingdom

The Characters are drawn very visually in this  old world adventure with an Asiatic setting.  This is no surprise, as author Ian Beck , is also a master illustrator who half way through his illustrious career turned to story telling himself. The prince, Osamu is very typical of his era and culture, spoiled, petulant, and arrogant. Not a particularly likeable character till circumstances take through him together with Lissa, a girl soldier and Baku, a humble potter’s assistant and the three of them find themselves fleeing for their lives in an unforgiving winter, though lands torn by war with a supernatural origin.  Will the prince find his destiny, despite himself, as leader of his besieged people? Will the young potter ever find happiness with his love and nemesis the mysterious snow maiden?  And the fierce soldier girl, is she capable of more than dealing death? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyLad-6odnw&feature=related    

Review – The Haunting of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck 

The Haunting of Charity Delafield

The Haunting of Charity Delafield

Have you ever felt you are a stranger to your own family, a prisoner in the life you find yourself living? The heroine of Ian Becks’ latest YA book experiences exactly that. Her father treats her a bit like a potentially dangerous alien, surrounding her with rules and regulations so she feels a prisoner in her ‘home’. And where is her mother…?  Children are good at unraveling conspiracies of silence, and this is exactly what Charity does with the help of a mischievous chimney sweep and a curious black cat. The cover is wonderful, a genuine enticement to open and savour contents, but then Ian Beck is a master illustrator as well as an award winning author. Peopled with larger than life characters and a magical world within a world, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read. The central character deserves a revisit in another adventure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XMwYigBNiw

Opportunities to collaborate – children’s writers and illustrators; artists and poets;

1. CHILDREN’S ANTHOLOGY – Collaboration opportunity for  writers and illustrators
An opportunity for children’s writers and illustrators to collaborate in an anthology of humorous stories has been created by  bloggist Lyn Midnight [Violeta Nedkova]

http://grim5next.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/apocalypse-for-kiddies-childrens.html

2. POETRY ANTHOLOGY, Illustrated

Poets Corner is calling for  submissions from poets and interest from artists for an anthology of illustrated verse to be called “Musings; A Mosaic”.

===CALL FOR SUBMISSION===
from poets around the world !

“Poets Corner” is coming up with an anthology of English original poems complemented with illustrative sketches, real soon.

Title of the Book:
Musings : A Mosaic

About the Book:
Out of the entire submission best 45-50 poem will be selected and each one of them will be illustrated with a sketch by an artist .

Theme :
Open

Format :
Any

Fee:
Nil

Submission Date :
April-13-2012 – April-20-2012

Send to :
poetscornergroup@gmail.com (Subject of the mail should be MUSINGS-YOUR NAME, Poems should be in the body of email as no attachment will be entertained)

Editor (Poetry) :
Dr.Madhumita Ghosh
Kavitha Rani

Editor (Art) :
Wajid Khan

Managing Editor:
Yaseen Anwer

Co-Editor:
Fouqia Wajid

Coordination:
Neha Srivastava

Note:
Please send ONE poem, of not more than 25 lines, and a brief note on the theme of the poem for the benefit of the artist. Please note that submission does not guarantee publication as the best 45-50 will be selected.

How to Create a Website in 3 Steps (with 10 thumbs)

How to Create a Website in 3 Steps (with 10 thumbs). This is good sense advice succinctly put from Jo Ann Carson. NOTE – you do not have to buy. Word Press, Yola, Weebly and Wix all provide excellent ‘free’ – yes, that’s what I said, FREE’ site templates, easy to assemble [if I can, anyone can] with lots of whizz-bang features!

“Mending Lucille”, Radio New Zealand review by John McIntyre

Cover, "Mending Lucille"

I thought I had probably long gone received the last of the reviews for my Crichton Award winning picture book, “Mending Lucille”. WRONG! Just got the loveliest, very belated review –
RADIO NEW ZEALAND:
http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20110617-1037-childrens_book_review_with_john_mcintyre-048.mp3
Sarah Davis [my amazing collaborator, illustrator on this wonderful project] sent it to me today. It came out on 17th June this year! Better late than never!

John McIntyre gave a very thoughtful, in depth review citing the use of “Mending Lucille” by the Monash Centre for Grief Education in the training of counselors working with children experiencing grief, loss or separation from a parent. Read more of this post

Agent search?

If you are searching for an agent, there is a very helpful blog by Casey McCormick which features “Agent Spotlights.”

She posts information about a wide variety of agents who represent children’s and young adult fiction.

http://caseylmccormick.blogspot.com/

The other essential to join is Query Tracker  – http://www.querytracker.com – this very comprehensive site offers advice re  query letters, publisher updates, agent info and much more!