Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Steve Riley: Illustrator & Publisher

  I recently interviewed William Steven Riley, illustrator and publisher. Most people know him as Steve or Steven. In his family it was common to go by your middle name. He works from the comfort of his California home. "I love it, but it does mean that sometimes I don’t get things done as fast as I probably would having an office." His wife home-schools their two children, and Steve  loves having the family close-by.

Steve is currently working on Furnatche the House Dragon, written by author Honey Apotos. The story is about a family who discovers a baby dragon in the basement furnace. Steve is also finishing The Little Flame written by Denise Gary, his good friend and CEO of Kids Need To Read.  The Little Flame is a heartfelt adventure meant to inspire kids to pursue the important things in life while maintaing healthy relationships.

When asked how Steve chose this line of work, he admitted it chose him, almost by accident. He reached a point in his life when pursuing unimportant careers needed to change. “If I don’t give something else a try, then this will be my life.”  Life was not awful,  just not what he wanted. After some soul searching, writing and illustrating children's books were his best chance to succeed.

Steve now has three titles the Little Ty Cooney National Wonders Series.  They are Little Ty Cooney and the Big Yosemite Race, LittleTy Cooney and the Big Yellowstone Mystery, and Little TyCooney and the Grand Canyon Tour Company.  Other works include author Derek Sabori's book Lu and the EarthbugCrew Zap the Energy Spikes. The illustrations were a collaborative effort between he and Mark Wayne Adams. Steve has three other books written. He is also collaborating with with World Class Climber, Dean Potter on a story about his life, which many people would say are just plain crazy.

Most all Steve's character ideas are born in sketchbooks. "I will be drawing one day and some random sketch will just come to life in my imagination," Steve says. His written stories generally evolve around characters, not a specific plot or theme. "All the story elements are there in the characters just waiting for me to discover them." His Ty Cooney series began in Yosemite Valley with a little raccoon that lived under his family's porch. "I sketched a little cartoon picture of him and that picture inspired the rest."

The only career for Steve before publishing was managing restaurants in Yosemite Valley, California. It required very little of his creativity, and focused on managing people, resources, and providing customer service. His experiences inspired the entrepreneur within him. Publishing has been frightening and rewarding for Steve. "Frightening because if I fail there is no safety net. Rewarding because, when I succeed the rewards are mine." said Steve. The combination of those two things keeps him highly motivated.

Steve is an independent publisher and illustrates for other independent authors. I asked him to offer insight to other's considering independent publishing. His first words of advice were to develop a business plan on how to sell books. "This is a business driven by money.  Money is derived from sales. If you have a great book and no way to sell it, you are in trouble. If you execute a good marketing plan, then your book is going to make you money." Money isn't the most important thing to Steve, but paying the bills is a publishing priority. 

"I think the most significant moments for me were the first moments of the journey. The first time I held in my hand a real true-to-life published book, that I wrote and illustrated." says Steve. "Upon the arrival of my first 5,000 books, I stood back and looked into my garage at the enormous pile of boxes. My wife and I took pictures with the pallets. It is comical to think of it. I still smile when I see those pictures." Steve said. To him those moments cannot be taken away, because the first memories were the best.

Steve didn't hesitate when asked if he would start his publishing career again. "I absolutely would, in a New York minute!" Steve replied. The one thing he would change would be to start before he graduated High School. "I always had silly ideas and funny pictures of crazy characters floating around in my head. I never believed they would ever amount to anything." Steve replied. Starting younger would given him nearly twenty years longer to build upon his success. "I recommend not hesitating or making excuses. I would just do it." He also recommended choosing the correct college institution. His education was a good, but felt an art school would have provided more opportunities.

To contact Steve Riley visit his website at:  http://tycooney.wordpress.com

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Prolific Writing & Illustration

"You are a prolific writer and illustrator and have written or illustrated 37 children’s books. I happen to know that your goal is to illustrate and or write 50 books by the time you are 50. That is just a couple of years away. What’s your secret to getting so much done in such a short period of time? What does a typical day in the working life of Mark Wayne Adams look like?"


We all choose how to pace our life. I find realistic goal setting is key for my success. Creating ongoing long and short-term goals helps me stay on point. Some goals are firm while others change. Either way they are written down. Once goals are on paper, they are real.
As an Illustrator, the speed at which I draw plays a huge part in my success. My childhood dream was to become an animator. I read how animators created hundreds of drawings in The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. So, I did the same.

I now draw at an animator's pace, however that speed isn't required for an average children’s book illustrator. Drawing one picture a day, means I complete one picture book a month. After six years, I’ve illustrated almost forty picture books. I've inspired so many readers with only one thousand illustrations.

The author in me writes all the time. I use writing applications like Notes, Pages, and A Novel Idea on my iPhone and iPad.  I then export my inspired writings into a formal document once a week. Writing instantly is more effective for me than designating a time to write.
So, what is a typical workday? Normally my illustration workday is about six hours a day, five days a week, eight months a year. Most days I draw by my pool until the kids get home from school. Tough life, right. It can be because I'm a publisher, author, President Elect for FAPA (Florida Authors & Publishers Association), Readers’ Favorite Illustration Award judge, and public speaker. Wearing one hat at a time can be difficult.

Becoming a prolific writer and illustrator for me has included setting realistic goals, working consistently, and capturing my inspiration immediately.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Being Social: Creative Sales!

Mark Wayne Adams (left) and Elaine Goldberg (right).
Mark Wayne Adams and Elaine Goldberg finally meet at a local Panera. Many of us find private spaces to work. Mark chooses to illustrate in public. Not only to get out of the office but to get readers' input. 

Elaine commented on Mark's Kids Need To Read unicorn calendar illustration. As they talked she realized he illustrated her favorite series, the Best Fairy Books, written by author Mrs. Bobbie Hinman. Elaine met the author at an Orlando Costco book signing. Now, years later, she meets the illustrator working on "The Freckle Fairy," the fifth book in her favorite series. 

Being social happens in many ways and inspires not only fans, but also the people around them. Mark received multiple orders from this meeting, none of which were Elaine's. He also captured several email addresses inquiring about the new book's release. 

Mark also signs book orders in public. What reader doesn't recognize an author signing books! The inventory is on hand for the reader to review. Mark offers to personalize the book, and uses the SquareUp reader and app to capture sales. Mark appreciates being social not only for the sales, but also for building his tribe of followers.

Mark Wayne Adams
President Elect of FAPA (Florida Authors & Publishers Association)
Moonbeam Award-winning Illustrator for
Nicholas, That's Ridiculous!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2 Ways to Create $1,500 a Month Publishing?

Recently, I was asked, "how do you create a steady $1,500.00 a month publishing books?" I laughed at first! Steady income and publishing haven't always gone hand in hand. Book sales have been extremely unpredictable. I've had months where I earned $12,000.00, and months where I earned $1,200.00.

Book sales fluctuate like the weather. I find "steady income" by illustrating books and public speaking.

Illustration is one of my biggest income generators. I illustrate from January through March and June through September. I spend countless hours creating artwork. The dollar per hour isn't the best, and finding good clients comes with challenges. 

Many of you are thinking, "I can't draw!" So public speaking is my best suggestion as a "steady income" for authors. Here is a formula I use.

  1. Charge a minimum of $500 per visit. Three speaking events per month yields $1,500.00. Schedule a total of 36 throughout the year. Seems daunting, right?
  2. Sell books at the events. Some schools don't collect book sales, however some do! On average 10% of students purchase a book. 1,000 students generally equals 100 books sold. Being conservative 5% would yield 50 book sales. If you make $5 a book, that's $250 extra. Now only 2 speaking events are needed a month, or 24 per year.
School visits can be repeated monthly. Elementary schools generally bring authors in from February through late April and October through November. It's a small window of time to schedule 24-36 events. Just remember this is about one month of "work."

Illustrating and public speaking are two ways I create a "steady income" publishing books. By creating more products and being social, book sales will become more consistent.

Mark Wayne Adams
Award-winning Illustrator of The Belly Button Fairy

Monday, December 16, 2013

32 Page Picture Book Budget

"What will I invest?" is a question I'm most often asked. There are many variables to producing a traditional hardbound 32 page picture book. From number of illustrations to location of printing. The choices are many.

First be a business owner. A business plan, profitable budget, and research attributes to a higher success in publishing picture books. Below is a sample budget I use when planning a 32 page full color, hardbound, picture book project.

Note:  This is a guideline and each project is unique.

Picture Book Estimated Budget:
  1. Copyright: $45.00.  If a publisher supplies the copyright, confirm it's in the author's name.
  2. ISBN: $250.00 (Block of 10). If eBook, print books, or a series is the goal, multiple ISBN's are needed. This fee is required for authors forming a publishing company. If an author's publisher supplies the ISBN, the publisher retains control over an author's book.
  3. Professional Editor:  $500.00 - ?  This fee is based on word count, time, and number of editorial reviews. Having a professional editor review before illustrations, after illustrations, and during the printer's press proof is smart.
  4. Professional Illustrations: $8,000.00 deposit with 10% royalty. A picture book requires an average of 32 illustrations. This includes Body Illustrations, Cover, End Sheets, and Title Page. Many illustrators consider a spread as one illustration. Use thumbnails or page breaks to get accurate quotes. If a book is not 32 pages the illustration price is reduced. Request samples of their work.
  5. Graphic Design: $1,000.00. Seek an all inclusive Graphic Designer who provides book layout, logos, scanning, art enhancements, along with press and web files for marketing purposes. Request samples of their work.
  6. Printing: $7,500 - ? Printing is based on 2500 copies of a 32 page hardbound book at $3.00 per book. Distributors and book retailers request 50% off the retail price. A $15.00 retail price equals $7.50 net sale. Less print and illustration cost, the profit is estimated around a $1.50 per book. Request samples of multiple printers' work.
  7. Shipping: $750.00 - $1,500.00. This is a one time fee to ship books from the printer to the warehouse. This cost may also include shipping the books to a distributor. This expense is calculated by weight, number of pallets, and distance from the printer.
  8. Climate Controlled Storage: $80.00 - $125.00 monthly. A climate controlled unit is necessary. Paper buckles with sudden temperature and moisture changes.
  9. Distribution: $0.00 - ? Many new authors manage their distribution, while others chose a distributor. Distributors take 40-55% for distributing books to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. The same percentage holds true for consignment in other retail locations.
Based on the numbers above, an average first print run of 2500 books can cost upwards of $18,000.00. Treat publishing as a business. Get fair and accurate quotes. Many publish with far less investment, however others publish with far more invested!

End Sheets Aren't Confusing!

End Sheets appear to be a simple component that unite the hard cover book with the book interior. An End Sheet consists of a single sheet of paper with a fold down the middle. Sounds simple right? Only if end sheets were always blank. Applying end sheets to a book becomes complicated when they are printed.

Often book designs include printed End Sheets. I use End Sheets (ES) to add artistic and educational value to some books. In King for a Day  the front ES are used as the dedication page and the back ES are used for drawing lessons. 

Typically the front and back End Sheets (ES) are the same. On occasion the front and back ES are unique. This doesn't always complicate file preparation. The greatest challenge with ES is communication of panel placement in the book. Each printer uses a standardized file naming convention and page set up for ES. Request this information to simplify ES placement. 

In this example I will refer to End Sheet as (ES) plus their number. The standard number of ES for a traditionally printed hardbound book is eight (8) or one signature.

Most End Sheet files are setup in spreads. The file width is twice the with of the trim size of the book. The end sheet at the front of the book printing across the spread is called "ES 1 & ES 8" these are glued to the cover. The front side of the end sheet not glued to the cover is called "ES 2 & ES 7." The next set of End Sheets that face the cover are "ES 3 & ES 6."  The last set of End Sheets that face the title page and last printed body page are "ES 4 & ES 6."

Request a printer's End Sheet template before the Graphic Designer submits production files. This will reduce added costs in file preparation.

Mark Wayne Adams
Publisher of King for a Day

Monday, December 9, 2013

How Authorpreneurs Profit from Fewer Sales

Ever wonder how authorpreneurs profit from fewer book sales? We capture the 90% income traditional publishers receive.

As an author, ask yourself these two questions.

1.  Is it better to sell 500 books and receive a $.20 royalty per book to earn $100? Over a one year period 10,000 books earns $2,000.00 in royalties. Or

2.  Is it better to sell 10 books and receive $10 profit per book to earn $100? Over a year an authorpreneur sells 200 books and earns $2,000.00 in profit.

Some authors debate 500 readers is better than 10 readers. Traditional publishers agree because they receive 90% of the income. 500 readers means $5,000.00 to a publisher. Best-selling authors release a prolific number of books due to low income from annual royalties.

Publishers use authors' fan base for repeat success with each new book. Transitioning from traditionally published to indie author is sometimes a slow process. Authors planning to indie publish should address the need for fans' contact information with their publisher. Authors who capture fans' contact information have better success. 

Mark Wayne Adams