“What advice would you give yourself fresh out of college?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: If the young you, fresh out of a BFA program, strolled into your office today and asked you for advice on managing his coming illustration, animation, and writing career, what advice would you give him? What has been the biggest problem on your path you wish you could have avoided? Has there been an opportunity you now wish you had taken?

How to Win Friends & Influence PeopleAdams: I’d give him the best advice I’ve ever received from a stranger. I met her on a flight returning from Los Angeles. She recommended I read these three books: The Greatest Salesman in the World, because we all want to give up. Love is Letting Go of Fear, we all have a personal obstacles to overcome. How to Win Friends and Influence People, because you’re not a people person until you learn to listen.

When the student returns after reading these, I’d recommend, The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. And I’d recommend he select two fields of illustration. The first being his focus; the second an alternate income stream. Next I’d recommend seeking out the ugly books in the world and being a better illustrator than the publisher’s existing illustrator.

My greatest problems were not understanding my value and not having a mentor/support system. My first illustration clients took advantage of my inexperience by underpaying and not sharing profits through royalties. I also invested thousands of dollars displaying my portfolio along with hundreds of other illustrators. I also joined organizations that charged to critique my portfolio.

IMG_2307Through trial and error, I learned good clients want to share their success; hanging with publishers is more profitable than hanging with illustrators; and non-paid critiques from professionals are genuine. The opportunities I would have taken sooner, are joining a publishing organization like IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association); cultivating a professional mentor relationship with an illustrator—not as a crutch; and starting my business fresh after graduation.

If I started again from college graduation, I would purchase a building with two storefronts in a small town for the price of a house. One unit’s rent would cover the mortgage. The second unit would serve as my business/studio. The upstairs would be converted to my loft/home. My clients would be found at large conferences where publishers and authors congregate. Technology makes small businesses into global business.

Who says being 20-something is a requirement to start a business. I might retire at 50 and start something new!

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

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“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

“Were you faced with challenges running your company?”: Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: You have done a lot of illustration, but the OUTBACK seems to be your first self-written children’s book. Why didn’t you attempt to publish one of your authored books with your own publishing company or with other previously? Did you try to sell this book to other publishers before releasing it with your own press? I am writing a book on author-publishers (Dickens, Twain, Woolf, Scott, Poe, etc.) and as part of this research I am curious why authors, artists and others are frequently driven to found their own publishing companies when they encounter problems with other publishers as they attempt to create traditional careers. It seems that you have had great success finding well-paying employment as an illustrator, animator, and the like, so I am curious where you faced challenges that made you realize that the independence that comes with running your own company was necessary. I believe you also wrote some of your picture books, including: King for a Day, the Story of StoriesBest Sketchbook, and Good Night Mare.

Adams: Well-paying employment is called a JOB. “Don’t work hard—work smart,” my dad once said. I’d been working hard since I was about thirteen. This phrase inspired me to graduate college and work for several major companies, where I managed or lead others. I never felt fulfilled. So, I began illustrating books again in 2007, while working as an Art Director.

steven_rileySteve Riley, fellow illustrator of the Little Ty Cooney National Wonder Series and college friend, gave me great advice! “Two incomes are better than one. Don’t quit your day job until your employer asks you to leave.” I paid attention while building my illustration business 2 hours a night, 5 days a week. Every four weeks I finished another children’s book in only 40 hours. When I finally left my day job, I was an award-winning illustrator of children’s books and a national public speaker.

I sold thousands of books annually for my publishers making about a 10–20% royalty. Authors who were illustrators made double royalties. I had a college degree, so I decided, I’ll write a children’s book and illustrate it too! My publishers said my books would never sell; there was no audience for my writing. I visited 45 plus schools a year, selling thousands of books to my audience.

Jilli thats Silly-3D-bookPeople say, “No!” for control. I had illustrated and created layouts for numerous published books. I had been an Art Director and Printing Manager in control of large production budgets. Taking control of my publishing journey wasn’t a difficult decision. Adams Illustration & Design, my illustration and graphic design business, became Mark Wayne Adams, Inc., mine and my wife Angela’s publishing company. MWA, Inc. purchased a block of 1,000 ISBNs and published award-winning books like: King for a Day, the Story of StoriesNicholas, That’s Ridiculous!Jilli, That’s Silly!and Teddy TalesThese four books combined won 14 children’s book awards.

If you’re passionate about writing and drawing make them a second JOB until they become the bread winner. Once the second job makes a small income, the day JOB becomes more bearable. Treat writing and illustration like a business and you’ll be in business.

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

4 Ways Publishing Businesses Succeed

The big challenge in my publishing business is “steady” income. Some months the business earns $12,000, other months it earns $1,200. How does it survive?

Through diversifying its income streams.

January through March and June through September are slow times for book sales. During these seven months I schedule new illustration projects which generate $48,000 in illustration income. (6 contracts x $8,000 per book = $48,000)

March through May and October through November are peak months for elementary school visits. I schedule 36 school events. 36 school visits generate $18,000 in speaking income. (36 events x $500 per event = $18,000)

On average, 10% of the students I meet buy a book. Meeting 36,000 students in elementary schools generates $36,000 in book income. (3,600 students x $10 per book = $36,000)

Five weekends a year I attend book festivals that have a minimum attendance of 10,000 readers. On average, 1% of the attendees buy a book. This generates $5,000 in book income. (100 attendees x 5 events x $10 per book = $5,000)

Illustrating, speaking, book sales, and festivals are four ways my business creates a six figure publishing income. A book is a product of publishing. A publishing business is the income streams around the product it creates. Learning this helped me overcome my biggest challenge—“steady” income.

—Mark Wayne Adams, Award-winning Illustrator & Publisher of Nicholas, that’s Ridiculous! A Story About Being a Boy

“If you love Kentucky so much, why move?”—Anna Faktorovich, PhD Interview

Faktorovich: Last year I did a Kentucky Historical Society short fellowship for my Radical Agrarian Economics: Wendell Berry and Beyond book, spending some time at the society, and at neighboring archives, as well as talking to the region’s farmers. You mention in the version of your bio in the OUTBACK book that the magic there was based on your childhood experiences with the “creeks, caves and bluffs of western Kentucky.” Can you elaborate on what about Kentucky, as opposed to other states, makes it a place that so many American writers from Wendell Berry to Abe Lincoln were inspired by or wrote about? Is the nature in Kentucky somehow more magical; is it more accessible; are people living there trained to love it more than in other places? And if you love Kentucky so much, why did you move to Florida? Do you want to go back? In the Acknowledgements you thank your parents, Larry Wayne Adams and Mary Francis Adams, “for sharing their Kentucky childhood memories” with you, so are the reminiscences in this novel theirs more so than your own? It seems that Australia’s Outback is as different in climate to the bluegrass Kentucky as a place can be, so why the parallel?

Adams: The OUTBACK magic is based on my Kentucky childhood experiences. My grandfather, Eliose Trotter, worked for the Kentucky State Parks’ Department of Forestry. Eliose harvested nuts, nurtured saplings, and planted acres of trees. My father, Larry Adams, worked 40 hours a week in a plastic factory. Every afternoon and weekend he farmed until late at night. If dad took a day off, he was fishing or hunting. My two male role models respected the earth and everything that came from it.

Why did I leave? I was told if you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s meant to be. I moved to Florida to chase my animation dream. When I left, family and friends said, “You can always come home.” As a public speaker in elementary schools, I return “home” to Kentucky often. I’m greeted with, “Welcome home!” I don’t get this greeting in the suburbs of Central Florida.

IMG_0153I spent eight years shipping books from Florida across the United States. I realized shipping from the central United States reduces shipping cost drastically. In 2015, I moved my book warehouse/distribution center to Dawson Springs, Kentucky. Kentucky is a better location, if you’re in the distribution business. I now understand why factories locate in the Central United States.

My parents’ childhood stories encouraged me to explore the simple pleasures of being a kid. I ran barefoot and rode horses bareback because luxuries like shoes and saddles weren’t required for adventure. Books were required. My librarian mother made sure the Adams kids were registered for the Dawson Springs Branch Library’s annual Summer Reading Program. We read for points and for fun!

Reading is a powerful tool in the hands of children. Words change the world. Peter Pan flew to Neverland, an imaginary place without problems. I traveled to the Never Never land, a vastly remote area of Australia’s Outback that I read about. Kentucky “out back” where I played and Australia’s Outback parallel not in “temperature” climate, but as Never Never lands where a lost boy like me played.

Climate, like many words, has alternate meanings depending on who, what, when, where, and how it is used. Anna, you see Kentucky and Australia as vastly different. I see them as two sides of the same coin. I folded a rectangular world map in half and half again. The United States and Australia are similar in size; located in the same position in opposite hemispheres; and both had natives displaced by western civilization. Digging a hole from Dawson Springs, Kentucky to the other side of the world, would place me near Dawson CityVictoria, Australia. Dawson Springs, Kentucky once thrived, and Dawson City, Australia did too. Coincidence or a great story of parallels?
Read the complete interview with Mark Adams, Award-Winning IllustratorAdams-Author Bio Photo-mwa.company-template with Anna Faktorovich, PhD

Write Back! Fan Mail is Good Business.

I usually don’t respond to student telephone calls, texts, or Facebook posts. As a parent myself, I feel kids communicating with adults should happen with parent supervision. So, I avoided numerous calls from Isabella, until I received a letter from her parents.

She was working on a library book report about her favorite author. After purchasing King for a Day, the Story of Stories during the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, Kentucky, she’d chosen me for her report.

“My librarian says authors are better than movie stars, because they write the story.” Isabella said in her letter.

Being a fan of librarians, I replied “I think librarians are better than movie stars, because they choose the books that fill the library.” Isabella shared the letter with her class and school librarian. Within a week, I’d been asked to visit two schools in her district.

As an author and illustrator, answer fan mail—schools are a niche market.

Publishing Cheat Sheet

Managing the publishing process for the first time can be intimidating. A cheat sheet would be great! Below is a quick checklist of items you’ll need along the way. It’s the same list I use to stay on point.

Business Plan

A business plan creates a realistic budget and project direction. A business plan requires little money to create, but also time. Research multiple printers, illustrators, editors, and distributors to determine a competitive team for your business model.

Professional Editing

A professional editor is essential! Each has his/her own pricing structure and should commit from first edit to press proofing. Editors assist with: page count, layout recommendations, proofing, plagiarism issues, and of course editing. Professional editing services are well worth the investment!

Copyrighting

One of the most common questions is how to obtain a copyright. Contact the copyright offices or fill out the form online. The average cost is around $45, well worth the investment. Barcode, ISBN setup, ISBN Metadata, and Library of Congress submissions are separate from the copyright process. ISBN standards require multiple ISBN numbers for printed and digital versions.

Copyrighting can be done in the final stage of publishing to include additions in text and illustrations. The publisher or author can submit based on their agreement. The publisher is also responsible for the ISBN and Barcode costs.

Printing

Printers need several items to quote a project: page count, binding style, paper stock, dimensions, deadlines, packaging requirements, and shipping destination. Printing options range from Print On Demand, “Green”, United States, overseas, award-winning, and eBooks. Production is times vary from on-demand to three months, depending on the printer selected.

E-book conversion into e-readers, such as the Amazon Kindle or the Apple iPad is separate from printing expenses. These are sold online through places like iTunes or the iBookstore. A good business plan should include this income stream when projecting sales or negotiating illustration contracts.

Printers

Illustration

Illustrators require the printer and graphic designer guidelines as well as the final edited story. Artists are liberal with time, however a professional illustrator creates according to timelines and budgets. Require communication throughout the illustration approval process using digital proofing. Digital proofing allows remote viewing for the author, editor, printer, graphic designer, and artist.

Three basic illustration contracts are: Purchase Contract, Copyright Contract, or Royalty Contract. A Royalty Contract usually offers unlimited use of the art. Each contract is based on the number of illustrations, artistic style, scanning, manipulation, and digital clean up.

Graphic Design

A Graphic Designer requires clean artwork along, the printer guidelines, additional book content, and the editor’s final edit. Graphic Designers provide scanning services, logos, professional layouts, and press ready production files. These services can be preformed by some professional illustrators. A fee and talent are required for this service as well. Samples should be provided.

As new resources are added and updated, this cheat sheet will be updated. Bookmark this page for future reference, I have.

Basic Royalty Calculations: Where Authors Profit Most

Authors and illustrators should understand royalty percentages before signing a publishing agreement. I’m asked the money question most frequently during publishing events, by new authors, and from publishing pessimists.

Some people believe disclosing salaries is uncouth. Pessimists and non-believers aren’t afraid to ask, “How much do you really make selling books?” People in the publishing industry don’t receive salaries but fluctuating incomes based on book sales. My response to the salary question is, “Tell me how much you made this week and I’ll tell you how much I made.” Don’t expect that person to ask their question twice.

I feel it’s not uncouth to understand how basic royalties are calculated. This Basic Net Sales Calculation Example shows how the Net Sale of books is distributed among authors, illustrators, and publishers. This guide shows seven areas books are sold and the profit per book sold.

  1. Non-discounted Sale:  These are direct sales through a publisher’s website or store. Publishers might sell non-discounted books at speaking engagements, events, or schools.
  2. Retail Store:  Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, or consignment books fall in this category.
  3. Book Festival:  An event that charges a flat vendor fee and doesn’t require a percentage of sales.
  4. Amazon:  Currently the largest online book retailer.
  5. Special Sale:  Discount promotions like holiday sales, event specific sales, or flash sales.
  6. Wholesale/Vendors:  Books pricing generally based on per case pricing in bulk. Gift shops, national parks, or companies like Premium Book Company, LLC are examples.
  7. Costco/Warehouse:  Large stores have individual pricing to entice customers.

Most royalties are calculated on the Net Sales, not the Retail Sales. This Basic Net Sales Calculation Example is based on author and illustrator receiving 20% royalties. Replace the 20% royalty and retail price of your book in this example to get a general idea. Not only is this sheet good for understanding royalties but also for determining where to sell books profitably.

Example:  An author who sells one book at a school visit makes around 16 times the royalty as the author selling the same book in a retail store. Authors and illustrators wanting to increase their royalties should focus their time at high profiting events. Bookstore signings are exciting, but not for $0.16 a book—even less, if royalties are below 20%.

Before signing the next publishing agreement, run the numbers. Determine the monetary rewards to publishing. This information is important for anyone considering traditional or independently publishing.

Mark Wayne Adams, Award-winning Author, Illustrator & Publisher

MWA, Inc Basic Net Sales Calculation

Must Have Illustrator Handbook

The 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.

Mark Wayne Adams, Professional Illustrator of King for a Day, the Story of Stories

MWA, Inc. Must Read List: The 4-Hour Workweek

I read a new business book each month. Good books are read multiple times. This month’s selection is a repeat favorite. So much that I also have the audio book for traveling. Be prepared to take notes. The 4-Hour Workweek is an inspiring read.

Time management is important not only to entrepreneurs, but also the average person. Streamlining processes is my focus for 2015. The MWA, Inc Must Read List kickstarts 2015 with The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich written by Timothy Ferriss.

Book:  The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Audio Book:  The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Website: www.FourHourWorkweek.com