Finding My Illustrator

Where did it all begin? Or should I say how?

I had the story, Step One, Step Two, Step Three and Four, so all I needed was the illustrations. Where did I look? I solicited local artists. I was knocked over when I found out price per page. And if you’re going to pay that type of money you better love it. Well I didn’t love them. So I waited. I researched. One of my writer friends had her book totally done by Createspace. It’s when they had an illustrator team. They did away with it.

I found dragonpencil. You could do everything there in one spot. The illustrators were priced low to high. You could tell why they were priced that way. But nonetheless, there was some good ones in there. Still I wasn’t satisfied with the price. I kept looking. I heard a lot about Some people having great luck and some did not. I thought I’d give it a try. I plugged my book in and in seconds had a good handful of offers. Most or shall I say all were from other countries. I checked their turnaround time, their star rating and reviews. Some were relentless and wanted a chance at illustrating your book. I requested an illustration. Some will agree for no fee. I took those seriously. I felt they wanted to work. One gal caught my eye after she illustrated a sketch the way I had envisioned. She was from Romania and wrote clear emails. She knew english quite well. I created an illustrator contract on my own and we both signed and were off and running. The book took four months to complete. Way longer than the contract anticipated. We had a difficult time getting the measurements right for Createspace. I’m not sure if measurements are different there. We were both frustrated. The time change was a killer. One message went between us each day which dragged this out.

Would I have used again, yes. Was it economical? I got to say it was a price I could live with. I definitely would be thinking more around the same time zones. Nbearot soon after, I was seeking another illustrator for My Big Tree since it had it rounds with the agent. We exhausted the industry and I didn’t want to shelve it for five years. I thought it had a multi-premise and saw big things for it. But, this time I didn’t use I chose a different route.

I heard a lot about I was curious. How could people do stuff for five dollars? Well not everything is five dollars. That’s just to get you to check them out. I thought it couldn’t hurt to take a look. I researched children’s illustrators and went through screens and screens of candidates. I found a gal from THE STATES who could draw a pretty fine looking dog. I fell in love with him. I wanted him but I didn’t have a dog in my book. I messaged her and asked if she could draw me a bird. Boom! Amazing and adorable. We signed the contract. The relationship was flawless. I assumed from her handwriting she was a senior citizen with a slew of grandchildren who lived on a farm and raised chickens. Boy was I wrong. Fresh out of high school and into her first year of college. In three months the the illustrations were completed (even with adding a dog last minute) No problems with the cover or set up. If I did she was very accommodating. Would I do again? Yes, best experience. Did I pay five dollars per illustration, no. It goes by how many characters per page, etc. Was the price fair? YES! Be careful because some want you to pay a fancy rights fee which I didn’t think they should charge. If you have a contract to buy all rights you shouldn’t need it. Only drawback is you cannot contact them off the site. The website won’t let you trade information.

I had it set up My Big Tree with Createspace. I was waiting to get the cover uploaded. In the meantime, I went to the Texas Library Association in Houston. I met a publisher who said he’d mention my name to another publisher and three days later I received a call. We chatted about my work and My Big Tree found its home.

Hey, look at me, I’m an Indie author!



Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Akiko White

 untitled I had the pleasure of meeting Akiko for the first time at a SCBWI Houston conference. At Houston’s conference, this past April, I got to experience, first hand and up close, her cake artistry. (It was delicious, see below)

BmGAcCnCAAA-Y6LShe calls them, “cakelustrations.” I can see this word going viral someday and possibly getting a spot in Webster’s dictionary.

Akiko is an avid baker who recently included this aspect into her illustrations. She has been enjoying art and baking since she took a painting class with her mother and started baking with her grandmother at the young age of 4 years old.

She received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the McNay Art Institute in 1993 and worked as a professional illustrator and graphic designer. In 2011, Akiko became the Illustrator Coordinator for the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators Southwest Texas Region.

Akiko recently won the 2014 Tomie dePaola award through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. This first cakelustration was composed of a fondant and (of course) cake. Her recent picture book project is a poem by Eugene Fields about a Fly Away Horse. All her illustrations will be done with cake as my medium. Akiko is represented by Rising Bear Literary.

At the present, Akiko is enjoying life on the farm in the Texas hill country and gathers inspiration from her past, her children and the many animals on the farm.Profile%20for%20LA14%20portfolio

I am pleased she took the time from illustrating to answer a few simple questions for my blog friends.

ME: Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.

AKIKO: I’m a pretty good roller skater.

ME: I wondered, four-wheels or blades. I’m a four-wheeler myself.

ME: Do you have a nickname?

AKIKO: Aki. That is the name my friends called me growing up and it is the name that most of my family calls me. When I was in kindergarten, the children couldn’t pronounce Akiko, so they started calling me Aki.

ME: I think you have such a cool, original name.

ME: What is your greatest accomplishment?

AKIKO: Personally- having three healthy children and a happy marriage. Career- Winning the Tomie dePaola this past year.

ME: Life is good.

ME: What motivates you in your illustrating career?

AKIKO: Books, stories, movies and art. I get inspired from my peers too! That’s what I love about this career. We are all there to cheer each other on.

ME: What book character would you be and why?

AKIKO: I would like to be Stillwater in the book Zen Shorts by Jon Muth. I could sit around telling deep stories, paint pictures and eat cake all day long!

ME: Sounds like a perfect life.

I want to thank Akiko for our Tiny Talk and sharing some intimate details about herself. I wish her much success in her “cakelustrations.” I hope to see you again soon, Aki, my friend.