children’s book illustrator

All posts tagged children’s book illustrator

Kickstarter: The Final Three Days

Published September 28, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The Kickstarter campaign for Kris & Krampus Kringle has come a looong way since I last posted! It seemed like we were at 70/80-something percent funded for a good while, and then this past Friday it really hit the fan. Over the course of the day the campaign got five new new backers in addition to two adjusted increased pledges, and shot past 100% funded! When I last checked this morning it was at $2,910 or 116% funded because the goal was only for $2,500! I’ve had so many fears and self-conscious doubts along the way that I’m still kind of in shock with how well it’s been doing, and there’s still three days left to go until time’s up!

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With all of the additional funding I am hoping to order a slightly larger first run of books from Bookbaby. That way I’ll have enough for all of the backers who have reserved their copies first, and some left to bring to the local indie bookstores and libraries here in Portland on consignment or donation. I want to see if the same library on Belmont where we hold our monthly Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators Meetup group would be willing to take one off my hands.

Some pictures I posted on Instagram featuring the custom Krampus button sets that my husband Martyn is making as rewards for the backers. In case you didn’t know, he runs his own button company out of our house called Power Pop Pins, and his buttons kind of rule!

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Close up so you can better see the designs on the smaller vintage Krampus buttons. I’ve always found Victorian Krampus Christmas cards, or Krampuskarten, to be simultaneously beautiful and hilarious!

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On Saturday Martyn and I spoke with four different independent comic and book shops that had an interest in stocking my book during the holidays (and a few that might even let me read my story to some kids!) One is a children’s book store on Alberta Street called Green Bean Books, and the other three were all on Mississippi Avenue–Bridge City Comics, Another Read Through, and Reading Frenzy. I also hope to speak with Floating World Comics sometime soon and possibly some people at Powell’s Books. The Fernie Brae on Hawthorne is my favorite place of all of these, and they’ve always been there to cheer me on as I worked on my book. It’s going to be the biggest honor of all to see my book on the shelf in their little bookshop this Christmas right next to their various signed Brian Froud books!

Another photo I had posted of all of the buttons pinned to my stocking. I really didn’t want to have to look at any of the Christmas stuff in the garage at this time of the year, but I figured that I should share because it was kind of a clever gift-giving idea that Martyn thought of last Christmas when he made me some special “I don’t like Star Wars” buttons as presents.

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Beyond my daily annoying posts about Kickstarter on the Official Kris & Krampus Kringle Facebook page and my working double shifts at both jobs multiple days in a row to save up some extra cash for an upcoming big purchase, I haven’t had a lot of time for much else. I did get a very brief start on the illustration for my own Krampuskarten that I’m making as part of the backers rewards packages. They’re going to be based off of this vintage Christmas card of St. Nicholas and Krampus on a motorcycle:

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Only my version is going to be of my own characters when they were reckless teenagers. This was the pencil sketch:

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Here’s it with some of the inking done, but as you can see I haven’t quite finished with that step yet:

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If you’ve been following me on Facebook I apologize that I don’t really have any new visual material to share with you. Thankfully this weekend I might get a few seconds of free time so I can finally bust this one out and post it again when it’s all finished! Overnight Prints did such an amazing job with my last professional artist postcards that I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

In case you haven’t seen them, these are my professional artist postcards. Overnight Prints printed them with a beautiful soft matte finish that really lends itself to my style.

Postcard Front and Back

So anyway, that’s it for now. I CANNOT WAIT for this campaign to finally be over and done with, it has been more hard work and headache than I ever could have imagined, but I’m forever grateful that it’s already funded so I can stop stressing about it so much. I’ll post on here again after it ends!

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Kickstarter Insights: Trolls, Witches, Anxiety, & Triumphs

Published September 12, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

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It’s been ten days since the launch of Kris & Krampus Kringle on Kickstarter, and here are some things that I have learned:

1. Reddit is pretty disappointing as a forum for sharing creative endeavors.

I suppose that I already knew this from every other time I’ve tried sharing art or creative posts on there in the past, but this latest attempt did a pretty good job at reminding me. Perhaps as an artist who loves monsters and horror just as much as I love children’s books and fairytales, I’m still dealing with some of the usual difficulties that I always face in trying to find the right niche for my work. Make a children’s book featuring a misunderstood monster protagonist, and narrow-minded horror purists will hate you, many traditionalists in the children’s book universe will think you’re just another sicko weirdo, and then there’s all of the people from neither camp who just happen to get upset by any new or unique ideas.

When speaking about Reddit specifically, this must be the equivalent to leading three billy goats to a bridge as a sacrifice. I generally find trolls to be ridiculous, comical, and a little sad by nature…and although I have never come across one skilled enough to really get to me on a personal level, I do think it’s a shame that so many of them exist. Trolls are merely a product of their environment, and their increased numbers are often proof of a depressed land ravaged by fear, hate, and apathy. Perhaps because it is in their nature to hide from the light of day in conscious isolation beneath the shelter of the internet forum, then it is only natural that their population expand to fill the growing void left behind in the place of community and enlightenment.

So… You say you like the krampus mythology and then take a fat shit on it by not actually using the alpine mythologies? And then you want to advertise your book on a completely unrelated subreddit? Is it possible to down vote someone so hard they actually physically suffer for it?

More diluitutation of folklore through pop culture. Thanks, Disney.

(I had to include this picture from Faerieworlds–it seemed oddly appropriate!)

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All I’m saying it is, it would be nice if I knew of some more supportive online forums for creatives to share their art and encourage each others’ hard work and innovation. If you know of any, feel free to direct me in the comments!

I will mention that the most supportive online groups of strangers that I have come across so far (besides other fantasy illustrators) are forums on Reddit and elsewhere that are associated with the Pagan, and most especially Wiccan, faiths. I suppose this doesn’t surprise me too much either; I have always found this community to be a very accepting bunch and this is part of the reason why I have always been drawn to it. For the past several years we have celebrated both Yule and Christmas in my house, so I chose to make a secular holiday book that focuses on family and acceptance as opposed to specific beliefs and religion.

2. Kickstarter is terrifying, and a brand new major source of anxiety!

After about a year and a half of perfecting my book, I of course wanted to set up the best Kickstarter campaign that I could possibly come up with. Besides backing a project once, I had never used Kickstarter before and was completely ignorant to how crowdfunding works. I spent about a week researching how to make a campaign, and then three days and three very late nights actually writing the campaign and trying to get it just right. I dreaded making the video most of all. I absolutely HATE being on camera above all else, but I did understand the importance of having a video so I knew I would just have to suck it up and give it my best try. Like I mentioned in my last post, I’m just lucky my husband Martyn who shot the video also knows how to edit. SO AWKWARD!!!

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In the beginning, I very foolishly believed that launching the of the Kickstarter campaign would be the perfect thing to calm me down and take my mind off of the whole house-hunting and first-home-buying process. Well, I was half right. Although I have temporarily stopped wearing out the Redfin app on my phone, I now find myself constantly checking on the Kickstarter app, the Official Kris & Krampus Kringle Facebook page, and the temporary Instagram business page that took over my old account, @krisandkrampus 

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Perhaps the most terrifying tool that I have discovered so far is called Kicktraq, a site with some kind of mystical math-wizard that uses daily averages to predict the projected success of your campaign. I almost didn’t want to look, but curiosity killed the cat. Here’s the chart for Kris and Krampus Kringle, which appears to be updated every couple hours. Below is a screencap from right now:

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Both of those seem pretty unrealistically optimistic to me, but whatever, I’ll take it.

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Then there’s that whole challenge in finding a balance in knowing when put yourself out there and spread the word in order to be seen and adequately promote yourself, and when to remain silent for fear of annoying everyone in your social circle. I’m shy and not very good at that. I would much rather simply ignore the timer on Kickstarter and just let nature run its course, but luckily the fear of inadvertently self-sabotaging my only chance at getting this book published and letting all of my backers down has kept me far, far out of my comfort zone. I’m constantly thinking about what else I can try to get the word out, and every time I get another backer, I get such a rush of excitement and hope…which eventually starts to fade as another day ticks by and my relentless feelings of self-doubt return. This must be what an addiction to gambling feels like. I know that I seriously need to relax, but despite the outcome when it all ends at in 18 days at midnight on September 30th, I really can’t wait until all of this is over!

3. I am surrounded by friends and family who truly love and support me.

All anxieties aside, my experience with Kickstarter has also reminded me that I still have A LOT of friends and family that truly love and support me in all that I do. I recognize the names of all of my current backers with the exception of two strangers (who still might be people I know, but you don’t have to use your real name on Kickstarter.) I also have received massive encouragement and support from all my friends on Facebook; vouching for me by sharing my posts, ‘liking’ the Kris & Krampus FB page (140 people and counting) and not to mention all of the really kind and thoughtful comments! It’s because of them that I got this email only one week after the launch.

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I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude whenever I really think about it, and this is the only thing that truly calms me down and keeps me going. That’s all I’ve got really got for you right now, just a slice of life, a neurotic ramble, and a little glimpse inside my head. Perhaps it will give you better insight at what it’s like to run a Kickstarter campaign for your ultimate creative accomplishment and labor of love. I think it’s entirely stressful and terrifying, not at all for the faint of heart, and demanding of every ounce of strength and courage that you can muster…but probably all worth it in the end!

 

 

…Right?

A Welcome Good Day & The Hardback Proof

Published August 17, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The last week has been very stressful and upsetting. Martyn and I were struggling with the home loan pre-approval process for what seemed like an excessively long amount of time, only to come to the rather horrifying realization that the $12,000 or so odd savings that we have barely managed to scrape together over the past couple of years might not even cover the closing costs of our theoretical house in question, much less a down payment. Just a recap: we also spent the better part of this year battling debt that was still left over from our cross-country move in order to make our credit look as squeaky clean as possible. After a few extremely depressing conversations with our bank and our future realtor about the skyrocketing prices of houses in Portland and the greatly more monetarily endowed competition that we’re going to be up against in what is currently one of the most cutthroat markets on the West Coast, we were both about ready to give up on the dream before we even really began. It really seemed like the past decade of running the rat race, being a stickler about my credit even when I would have much rather been another irresponsible partying 20-something year old, working so hard towards moving to a state where I would want to grow up and settle down, and having the strength to decline dream jobs in order to continue working at dependable places where I no longer want to work for years and years just for the reliable job history that looks so excellent on paper had all been for nothing. We were, in a word, crushed–and literally both facedown on the bed in a sad crumpled pile in a darkened room in the middle of a beautiful sunny August afternoon.

Then, somehow…and I don’t really know how…we managed to pick ourselves up, do a little frantic research on the computer, and make the decision to try it again anyway. Maybe it’s still all pointless, but at least now I feel that we’re a little better educated on some of our other options for low or no down payment option loans. It’s almost enough to dare to hope again, and goddamnit if that’s not something!

So it was such a welcome surprise today to find out out that we have in fact been pre-qualified for $250,000! I know that might not be much for Portland anymore, but it’s at least enough to finally give it an honest shot! There are plenty of three-bedroom, rough-around-the-edges ranches and well-worn bungalows on my Redfin favorites list for under $250,000 that I know we could make shine with a little TLC if only we could be lucky enough to score one. Our real estate agent has advised us that unless we experience a miracle, it will probably take us a couple of trys…so all the reason to start our trying right now. I’m just so relieved that at long last, we can at least do that much!

In other news…THE HARDCOVER PROOF ARRIVED TODAY FROM BOOKBABY! And it’s…well, gorgeous.

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The inside is even better. I’m so incredibly happy with it!

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Even Grendel was curious why I was so excited about the little flat thing that I found inside the box on our doorstep.

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Next is the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, where I will include all of the information I know up to this point about the release of the book and the amount of fundraising that will be needed to reach that goal. I’ve never used Kickstarter before, but my understanding is you need to spend a lot of time making a very informative page complete with an awkward and embarrassing home video to plug your proposed product.  I wish I could afford to just pay for the whole thing out of pocket, but alas, I am not one of those aforementioned greatly more monetarily endowed persons…so awkward and embarrassing home video it is! Now that I’ve got my book in the mail Martyn and I will most likely try shooting a little something this weekend. I’ll let you know whenever that atrocity goes up!

 

 

ALL THE PUBLISHERS!

Published August 5, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The other big project I did last week was submit my book to ALL THE PUBLISHERS! Well, you know, maybe not ALL of them because most publishers don’t even take unsolicited submissions in the first place and I definitely still don’t have an agent yet…but I did submit my book to twenty publishers in total, and that is a lot!

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That’s what the living room table looked like for a good week as I scrambled to put together the best-looking submission packages that I could come up with. I got info on about probably two-thirds of the publishing houses from The Book, the official guide to children’s book publishing that the SCBWI puts out every year. For the other third I just did some research on my own and Google searched the names of the publishers that I found on the dust jackets of the children’s books that I’ve bought recently (and yes, I am a childless adult that has regularly purchased children’s books my entire life, because this has always been the sort of thing that I am into!)

I mostly submitted to publishing houses in the USA, but I also submitted to a couple of UK publishers that I really admire. Every publisher has their own set of rules and preferences for how they would like their materials submitted. Luckily all of the UK houses that I submitted to were ok with email submissions, so I didn’t have to worry about figuring out international postage. As for the US publishers that required a physical submission in regular snail mail post, which were eight in total, I made sure to send them a couple of copies of my cards:

Postcard Front and Back

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Also a printed dummy book, as pictured below with my first run of five submissions:

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The first round looked similar to my initial test print copy that I made for the SCBWI Spring Conference, except the colors have since been tweaked a little by my editor, graphic designer, and husband Martyn Cooper to print brighter and truer to my original artwork. We also decided to opt for a clear covering on the back of the book that was just like the covering on the front, instead of just sticking to the default black back cover of the original print. It seems as though every time I get this dummy book reprinted it evolves in some positive way, because for the print round after this one I discovered that you can even get a clear plastic spiral binding instead of what I had thought to be the default black. The clear cover and clear spiral bound books looked so excellent that I still wish I had kept a copy for myself, especially since I don’t even have a picture of them because I had to mail them out while they were literally still hot off the press! Anyway, here’s that super exciting, shining moment when I was done packaging up that first round of five submissions at Office Depot:

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Of course I remembered to include in every submission the full printed manuscript of my story and a personalized query or cover letter. Apparently query letters are meant to be really difficult and intimidating to write. Almost like you’re supposed to feel so threatened by this theoretical publisher that you are just crouched down in the fetal position, fearfully handing them this impossibly formal and clean document with a trembling hand while you defensively hold your other arm over your eyes. I dunno…although I do definitely understand wanting to follow certain guidelines to not come off as an ignorant tool and sabotage your chances, I also think that with such a wealth of completely contradicting information about “how to write the most perfect query letter” that can be found on the internet or otherwise, you probably gotta take all of this hullabaloo with a grain of salt. I did a lot of research on the subject, figured that I’m at least pretty ok at communicating with people in words, and that, come on, THEY’RE JUST PEOPLE…it’s not exactly like we’re dealing with those Sphinxes from The NeverEnding Story here! Life is too short for that level of anxiety. I just picked out what parts made the most sense to me out of a mountain of other example queries that I found online and came up with this basic format for my own query letter:

(Name and address of publisher.)                                                          (My name, address, contact                                                                                                        info, portfolio website, and this blog.)                                                                        

Proposal for Picture Book:

KRIS & KRAMPUS KRINGLE

Please find enclosed the complete manuscript and illustrated dummy for my children’s picture book entitled, “Kris & Krampus Kringle,” which I would like you to consider for publication.

Kris Kringle just wanted a normal little brother. Instead he ended up with the hairiest, smelliest, messiest, clumsiest, weirdest, rudest, and worst little brother in the whole wide world! If all of those things weren’t bad enough, Kris’s brother doesn’t even understand the most wonderful time of the year. Will Kris be able to stop him from ruining Christmas, or will his favorite holiday be wrecked forever?

“Kris & Krampus Kringle” is a 32 pages, 829 words, winter holiday tale about sibling relationships and tolerance. It is also a unique spin on age-old Christmas mythology from around the world. The character of Krampus was inspired by the yuletide monster from Alpine folklore, however my story is a re-imagining of both Krampus and Kris Kringle as brothers. The majority of the story takes place when Kris Kringle is about eight years old and Krampus Kringle is about five years old. Kris and Krampus Kringle’s mother, Mama Kringle, is the third and final character in the book and is also the only parent figure who is present in the story. “Kris & Krampus Kringle” was written to appeal to children of all ages as well as adults who may have a special affinity for Kris Kringle, Krampus, and stories about familial love and diversity.

I am both the author and the illustrator of “Kris & Krampus Kringle.” This is a simultaneous submission to see if this story garners any interest from traditional publishers, but if not I plan to move forward with a self-­publishing company in the late Fall/Winter of 2016. I even have some ideas for a future sequel story, which would take place about three years after the first book and include some other characters based on Christmas folklore from Alpine and Nordic mythology. I am an active member of the SCBWI and I also enjoy illustrating other stories besides my own. I am submitting to you as an author/illustrator for this book in particular, but also as just an illustrator for future projects. Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

Sincerely, Bailey Quillin Cooper (Except this was my actual signature signed in black ink.)

I customized this basic query letter format for each publisher that I wrote to, because odds are, the reason that I chose to submit my book to them in the first place was because I liked how they were doing things. I made sure to mention if they had published a specific book that I liked, or if they had ever published any books that contained similar general themes to mine: non-religious Christmas holiday, monsters and mythology, family, new sibling or sibling relationships, unusual friendships, diversity, tolerance, and acceptance. I know that it might be kind of a long shot to imagine that my very “out there” story might fit in enough with the subject matter in most traditional publishing houses that they would be interested in picking it up, but why not give it my best try anyway? At the very least, the publishers will hopefully see my book and remember my artwork and maybe, just maybe, even decide that they want me to illustrate for them on another project someday down the line. We can only hope!

So now that I’ve submitted my book to enough publishers that I can legitimately cause a flood of rejection letters (even though most people don’t even send those anymore), you might want to know what’s next on the agenda for Kris & Krampus Kringle. Well, I’m totally stoked to report that a couple of days ago we placed an order for the first hardcover proof of my book from the self-publishing company, bookbaby! Let’s just say that I’ve been waiting for this moment for…quite a while!

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Hell yes!

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It was such a good feeling to finally get the ball rolling on after nearly a year and a half of working on this! Once I receive and approve of the hardback copy from bookbaby in two weeks, I will be setting up a Kickstarter page to fund the publication, ISBN number and print on demand/online distribution service, and printing of the first run of 100 books! I’m going to have to raise a lot of money to fund this…maybe something in the neighborhood of $2,500 to start with, but fingers crossed everything will continue to run smoothly and my book will be ready to purchase by November-something of this year! I will continue to keep all of you guys posted on the fundraising and publishing process on this blog, so be sure to check back in every week or so!

Edit: To follow up with my last post, Sarah got the Advance Reader’s Copies of Beyond The Bramble back from Lulu and they turned out amazing!

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And they even match her nails…CUTE!

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Book First Print!

Published May 18, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Guess who got the first test print of her book from back from Office Depot yesterday?

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Martyn up finished formatting the text on Sunday and we made some last final edits just before it went to the printer. Although it’s just a test print dummy from an office supply store (note the spiral binding instead of what will eventually be a real hardback cover) the pages still look absolutely beautiful and quality! The text and the layout also worked out perfectly, including some of the trickier pages that had multiple spot illustrations or double-page spreads. At first I was a little bummed out and worried when I found out that I wouldn’t be able get my first printed copy from bookbaby in time for the SCBWI Spring Conference this weekend, but now I’m just glad that this test print ended up working out so well. It’ll definitely be more than good enough to show off my vision for the book at the conference!

Here’s a close-up of the cover. The protective sheet of laminate makes it near impossible to photograph but hopefully you get the idea.

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If you are someone who gets to see me in person on a regular basis I’d be more than happy to show you the first print of the book. It represents about a year and three months of hard work. If that thing was a human baby it would be six months old already!

Besides finishing up this first not-so-dummy copy of my book over the weekend, I also have been working on one last final piece for my portfolio. It’s another illustration of Lucia because she’s pretty, and because I wanted to have more examples of my illustration style besides just the artwork from my book. I know I posted this on my Facebook/Instragram already, but here was the line drawing before I began any of the coloring:

Lucia Linework

I’m almost finished with the coloring now and I hope to be all done with it by the end of the night. I’ll post the completed illustration tomorrow if I can!

So yeah, this weekend I finished the test print of my book, almost finished the last illustration for my portfolio, and I even remembered to vote!

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I feel very productive. I also might have even had two job interviews lined up for this week, but I’m not even going to tell you about that. You’ll just have to guess if that’s true or not till next time. Bye!

 

Never Judge a Book by its Cover

Published April 15, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I know that you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover…but I mean come on, have you even seen this thing?

Kris & Krampus Front Cover