Continuing my Illustrator Wednesday series with a slightly different spin today, I asked author of ANNIE’S SPECIAL DAY, Clara Bowman-Jahn, how she went about finding her illustrator. Thank you for sharing, Clar, and wishing you many sales for your début picture book!
I actually found my illustrator on Linked In. On a group called Scribbles. But that wasn’t easy and it didn’t come right away. I trusted my writer’s group for the first one. She had done a book called “Thanks to Tank” and I liked the art so with the help of my mentor friend I contacted her and she signed a contract and since she was a minor, her mother co-signed. The contract said the art would be done in three months. She did a few drawings and I approved them. But then I stopped hearing from her and all my efforts to contact her were futile. Her voice mailbox was full, her mother didn’t call me back and I didn’t get replies to my emails. Finally after a month I gave up and emailed her and also sent her a snail mail letter telling her she broke the contract by not giving me drawings in a timely manner and not leaving me with contact information.
Then came the portrait artist. I forget how I found him, maybe remembering how he did art for my old church. I contacted him and we started working together. I would go to his house every Friday for two months where he talked to me and my husband about Annie and what I wanted for the illustrations. He just didn’t see any fun in it so he finally told me that. That there was no fun in illustrating the book. We never got so far as a contract. Now we were three months later and a year later since I had started looking for my own illustrator. Someone on Linked In told me about three illustrators who were looking for work and I notified them asking if they would consider working for me. One even drew Annie for me then mysteriously told me she wasn’t the one I wanted. I had a long conversation with one of them who told me I wasn’t offering enough incentive to illustrate my book “Annie’s Special Day.” So I looked up illustrator fees on the SCBWI web site. I found out what the low end of scale was and she was right. I wasn’t paying enough.
About that time I found Claudia Wolf on Scribbles, an illustrator with all kinds of experience. Someone I wouldn’t have to teach first. I talked with her on the phone and we decided we could work together and she drew up our contract making her my employee and decided on her fee from what I had read on the SCBWI web site. I also enticed her with telling her she could have half of my royalties. Since she was recovering from surgery she could start right away and be finished in three months. Terrific!
She began sending me thumbnails, little sketches for me to approve or not. Most were so good I approved them right away. There was only one sketch I really changed and that was a little boys hand to close to Annie’s stomach. I thought with the Penn State legal pedophile trail going on we didn’t need any suggestive drawings. She changed it right away and sent me a different one. Claudia was a delight to work with. So different than what I experienced up to then. Professional experience does make a difference.
After the thumbnails we got completed color drawings by email and attachments. Pdfs. It was wonderful seeing Annie come to life. In the middle of this I asked for Claudia to do the book cover so I could start marketing it. Little did I know so much more had to happen. We had done all the drawings in landscape mode and our publisher couldn’t print them that way. So now we had an eBook but no print book. That’s another story.
I’ll let my husband tell that one because he is the hero there.
Clara Bowman-Jahn worked as a registered nurse for thirty two years finally trading that job for her true love, writing. Clara’s short stories have been published in the anthology of the “Campaigner’s Challenges 2011” Book.
When Clara is not writing, she does volunteer work for a local elementary school and her church. She also likes taking long walks with her husband, blogging, and reading books. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Pennwriters, Bethesda Writer’s Center and Round Hill Writer’s Group. She lives in rural Loudoun County, Virginia with her brilliant husband, a senior dog and two cats. And she is the proud mother of two wonderful grown sons and a grandmother to a delightful grandson.
Do visit the rest of Clara’s blog tour: