“How did you become Readers’ Favorite Illustration Awards Judge?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: You also served as a Readers’ Favorite Illustration Awards judge. How did you win this job? Did somebody else nominate you or did you nominate yourself? You won several awards from this group, so did they automatically nominate you to judge when you hit a certain number of award wins? Beyond what appears on the official rules for contests, what practically makes a difference between illustrations that win an award and those that don’t? Is there an obvious difference between the winners and losers? And if so, what are the most common mistakes made by the losers?

IMG_0638Adams: I met the Readers’ Favorite founder, Debra Gaynor, several times in Miami, Atlanta, Nashville and Frankfort. She solicited me like every author who had a quality book that would grow the now international Reader’s Favorite Awards and Review program. Jilli, That’s Silly! written by Christa Carpenter, received a gold medal and I planned to attend the ceremony in Miami. Debra also invited me to present on the Value of Illustration during the Readers’ Favorite two night annual awards ceremony. While at breakfast, I sketched in my current Best Sketchbook. James Ventrillo, current CEO of Readers’ Favorite, introduced himself and began an impromptu interview for the Reader’s Favorite Illustration Awards judge position.

IMG_0523The awards won through their organization did not automatically make me judge. Professional experience earned the position. Several hundred books in various genres are submitted each year. Judging occurs throughout the year based on: character development, storytelling, cover design, layout, etc. Once a book is scored, the score is final. Until the scoring is complete, who the winner is remains a surprise for them and me.

We’ve all seen books that are obvious winners and losers. I judge on the criteria specifically. Common mistakes made are strong illustrations and a weak graphic design. Cover design is 10 points. If the cover design scores low, great illustrations may not win. Another common mistake is inexperience. The art must relay the story to a non-reader.

My biggest reward in participating as the Readers’ Favorite Illustration Awards Judge is hearing a winner say, “I didn’t think I was that good,” or “There are more talented artists than me.” Receiving feedback from your peers is important!

 

Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

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Auschwitz #34207: The Joe Rubinstein Story

Joe and Irene Rubinstein, and author Nancy Sprowell Geise wearing the gold medals from FAPA book awards.
Joe and Irene Rubinstein, and author Nancy Sprowell Geise wearing the gold medals from FAPA book awards.

As a FAPA Board Member, knowing talented and motivating people is a reward. Nancy Sprowell Geise’s FAPA success story is one I’ll always cherish.

“Entering the FAPA President’s Book Award was one of the best things I could have done for my book Auschwitz #34207: The Joe Rubinstein StoryI highly recommend all authors and publishers in North America submit their books to the FAPA President’s Book Award. I had no idea when I entered the contest how much fun it would be and the honor that would come with winning. I even wore my medals home on the plane!
Even if the book had not been a finalist or a medal winner, going to the 33rd Annual FAPA Conference was so helpful and informative. Not to mention, what a blast I had meeting so many talented, interesting and fun people!”
—Nancy Sprowell Geise
nancy-sprowell-geiseNancy Sprowell Geise | Author • Presenter • Motivational Speaker
Topeka, Kansas
An Amazon #1 Best-Selling Author

“How did you get illustration projects?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: How did you convince the first person that hired you as an animator/ illustrator that you deserved the job? Would you/ have you showed your portfolio from those days to the general public? Why or why not? (Can you share any of your early illustrations/ drawings as part of this interview?) What was the highest amount you’ve made for one of your illustrations? Was it from a flat payment for freelance work, or a percentage in royalties based on sales of the book? How did you get that project? Did you work with an agent? While in theory people told you that you can grow rich from illustration, has this really been the case in your experience. This is probably of top interest to new illustrators who are considering if this path is worth the sacrifice of more artsy pursuits.

IMG_1991Adams: The first person who hired me as an illustrator chose me because I had a sketchbook full of drawings with me. I had the person describe in words a character: appearance, emotion, and action. As they spoke, I drew. When they asked for my card, I told them I didn’t have one, but wrote their name inside my journal. They left hoping I’d call or email, because I had the drawing of their character in my sketchbook.

That’s how you get the job. Don’t carry a cumbersome portfolio of messy charcoal figure drawings. Don’t send them to your weak website, because they won’t bother viewing your portfolio page. Don’t wait!

Drawing in public was my best portfolio. Developing the spiel took some time, but worth every failure. It goes kinda like this:

Contact: “Hey, you’re talented. Are you a professional illustrator?”

Me: “Yes, I’m an award-winning children’s book illustrator.”

Contact: “Wow, I know a friend who has written a children’s book and needs an illustrator.”

Me: “That’s wonderful, I don’t have a card, but I’ll write down your email and you can forward it on to your friend. They can contact me when they’re ready.”

Contact: “Wonderful. Where can I get one of your books?”

Me: “I’ve illustrated over 50. If you go to the Barnes and Noble in the mall and buy a book, I’ll sign it now before I leave.”

Contact: “I’ll be right back!”

See how working on the spiel can land contracts and sell books. It took time though.

The most I’ve ever received for a single painting was $2,500 freelance for Marc Michaels Interior Design in Orlando, Florida. Nancy Short, Principal at Ansana Interior Design, Inc., commissioned my services after seeing art and furniture I had created for my own home.

My children’s book illustrations pay a deposit up front (average $8,000.00) and a royalty for the life of the book including merchandising (average 10-20%). I tend to be my own agent, actively interviewing prospective clients. The more hands in the cookie jar, the fewer cookies for everyone.

FullSizeRenderGetting “rich” as an illustrator is one of those words with double meaning. Is rich money? Is rich knowledge? Is rich cultivating strong relationships? As an illustrator, I invested $100 in supplies and generated $8,000 and a 10% royalty for life. That’s rich when you finish 6-8 books a year. As a publisher, holiday book sales make you rich! Until January, when you reorder 20,000 books to replenish inventory.

The knowledge and relationships cultivated through this journey are priceless. My animation dream was the stepping stone to my full potential. Authors and Illustrators create new realities for themselves and others.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

Review: Does Grandma Have a Mustache?

does-grandma-have-a-mustache-3d-72dpi-rgbRita Fleming has written an enchanting poetry book about the loving and hysterical moments of family life. Fleming’s unique set of poems brought laughter and memories as I read about amusing childlike perspectives.

Does Grandma Have a Mustache? has short poems, age appropriate text, and entertaining illustrations for young readers. The story engagement encourages family and classroom discussion. Families, students, and teachers should adopt this insightful story into reading time!

Reviewed by:

Mark Wayne Adams is an award-winning illustrator, author, and publisher of more than 40 children’s books. View Books and Awards

Website(s):  www.markwayneadams.comwww.mwa.company

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“Do you think awards and reviews are key to sales of new releases?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: You boast on your website that over 5 years the authors you’ve published with MWA, Inc. have won over 50 major awards. To how many awards do you submit each of your releases to? How expensive is it to do a mass submission to so many awards for several books? Do you or your authors fund these submissions? Do you see a positive return in terms of sales after a book ends up winning awards? Do you think awards, reviews, or some other components are key to the sales of a new release in the illustrated children’s book category?

Christa Carpenter receives the Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Award.
Christa Carpenter receives the Evelyn Thurman Young Readers Award.

AdamsAwards—we all want them, but why? Most authors rely on publishers to submit for book awards. The publisher works within a fixed budget and may only enter a few awards competitions. What authors and illustrators may not realize is they can submit for book awards. Some awards offer monetary compensation, while all offer either local, regional, or national exposure. What value is an award? Awards offer something different for each person. Authors may use awards to validate their profession to consumers, peers, or family. Readers may see awards as a quality review from book professionals. Publishers may see the award as a reason to contract for future books. No matter what the reason, be confident that your book is of professional quality before submitting. Be open to the fact that not all submissions win. Being a finalist is as important as receiving a medal. For my fifty published books, only eleven have won awards. I use critiques from judges to enhance the next book or second edition printing of the current book. Not every book is a winner, so why not learn from each.

Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

“Can you summarize what you would tell students on the first day?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: If you were teaching a class on beginner digital illustration for children, can you summarize what you would tell your students on the first day of class (after you cover the syllabus etc.)? They are eager to get going with making a great illustration and hope for some practical advice, having some basic drawing skills under their belt.


IMG_1726
Adams: Anna, you should invite me to speak at a local school to see firsthand. I have 3 rules for students of any age: raise your hand if you have a question; pay attention; and ask good questions. Raise your hand and use your voice, the best time to learn is now. Pay attention because the knowledge you want is in front of you. And ask good questions because you’ll get good answers. Average question: “Mr. Adams do you like being an illustrator?” Answer: “Yes.” Good Question: “Everything you’ve asked in this interview!”

Also I use the visual example that at three years old, I scribbled and my mom said “Wow!” One day I drew an obscure heart-shaped image. My mom didn’t say anything but loved on me. I kept drawing the heart and received the same response from my dad. When I arrived in Kindergarten, I showed my teacher I could write my ABC’s. She said, “One day you’ll be a writer.” From age 3 to 5, I wasn’t born an artist or a writer, but through practice and positive feedback I became one. Every person is a product of the type of effort and encouragement we give and receive.

I think this is why I’ve visited so many elementary schools. I’m not there to sell a book; I’m there to inspire at least one person to achieve their dream.
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

Review: Does Grandma Have a Mustache?

does-grandma-have-a-mustache-3d-72dpi-rgbPoetry is a wonderful way to introduce kids to the magic of words. The rhyming of the words and the rhythm patterns make words fun. Rita Ann Fleming has written a delightful book, full of everyday experiences that kids can relate to—subjects like getting gum in your hair, the tooth fairy, and the stresses caused by siblings. The book is divided into sections, including humor and angst about family, school, grandparents, and animals.

Because the poems are written by a grandmother, the connections described between the generations are universal. What a special time when a grandmother plays a game with a grandchild, or grandfather teaches one how to repair something. These are special moments for both the child and the grandparent, and artfully captured with humor and affection.

Captivating illustrations enrich the pages, adding a sense of whimsy to each poem. The facial expressions are especially amusing. Teachers, parents, and grandparents will enjoy sharing these funny, yet insightful poems, with youngsters of all ages.

Reviewed by:

Jane R. Wood is the author of Schools: A Niche Market for Authors and an award-winning series of chapter books: Voices in St. AugustineAdventures on Amelia IslandTrouble on the St. John’s RiverGhosts on the Coast, and Lost in Boston.

Website(s): www.janewoodbooks.com

Teacher Resources for Jane’s Books

Wood-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-templateSocial Media:

 

 

“Which illustration guide has helped you the most professionally?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: Which software do you use to illustrate children’s books, to design books and for other components of illustration and design? Do you prefer some over others, and if so why? Which guide to illustration has helped you the most to illustrate professionally and to make your covers appealing to the mainstream market?

Adams: I use Adobe’s Creative Suite: Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. Every traditional watercolor illustration is scanned and manipulated using Adobe Photoshop. Sometimes illustrations are created with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, upon the publisher’s request. Vector logos are created using Adobe Illustrator to eliminate the need of recreation for vector routers. All programs have unique benefits. I recommend learning the basics. Go to the program’s help menu or YouTube to learn something in a pinch.

UnknownThe Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines is for any professional or aspiring artist. Illustration is a broad term covering line art to oil paintings. I’ve used this book for over eight years as a business resource. Pricing projects and creating contracts has been profitable using industry standards found within the handbook.

Every graphic artist is unique. No two illustration projects are the same. Use the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines to set pricing guidelines for your business. Authors, Art Directors, and Publishers can use this book to budget projects. If you need a used copy, email me. I’ll sell you mine and get the latest.

Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

Staff Book Picks: September

Voices in St. Augustine 3D-bookVoices in St. Augustine
Written by Jane R. Wood
ISBN: 9780979230455
Paperback Retail Price: $8.99

Thirteen-year-old Joey Johnson hears voices. Only he can’t find the people who belong to them. His curiosity leads him on a quest where he learns more than just history about the Nation’s Oldest City. He discovers he has a special connection to the past—something that changes his life forever.

 

Written by Crystal White and Illustrations by Mark Wayne Adams
ISBN: 978-061585-316-1
Pages: 36
Hardbound Retail Price: $14.95

Franny’s Rescue is a beautiful children’s book complete with vibrant illustrations and educational resources for both parents and teachers, not to mention an exciting and heartfelt story.

Franny is a scrappy little dog living on the streets, never knowing where her next meal will come from. She finds herself in all sorts of danger as she prowls the town in search of food and shelter: People, cars, other creatures! One day Franny finds herself in a situation she can’t handle on her own. Who will help her in her struggle to survive?

At the end of the story the author (a 20-year reading teacher) has included a small nonfiction section describing the characteristics of the breeds featured in the story. This is also an excellent resource for the teaching or review of text features. There is also a section for parents describing activities they can do with their children to enhance reading skills. These activities can be used with any text.

 

Jaces Adventure in the Forbidden Forest-3D Book-www.mwa.company
Jace’s Adventure in the Forbidden Forest

Written by Diane Harper
ISBN: 9780984873630
Paperback Retail Price: $4.99

It’s the first day of summer vacation. Jace and his best friend, Rocco, are anxious to get to the park to play catch. Their ball accidentally goes into the Forbidden Forest. Jace goes in to look for it and he gets lost. Two young dinosaurs named Ribney and Ryder are in the forest and help Jace find his way home. But before they do, Jace helps the dinosaurs with a big problem they have!