'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 7 May 2009

Illustrators: Wherefore Art Thou?

It's with regret that I've come to the realisation I will have to change illustrators for the next book in my Riley series.

I think that unless you've self-published or have been in the book industry a long time, it's easy to become delusional about the costs and work involved in creating books.

Almost every creative minute of the last twelve months (to the detriment of many other creative pursuits) has been invested in making Riley and the Sleeping Dragon a success. From the concept to the writing, design, photography, layout, graphics and onto the actual publishing and printing of the book, I worked my heart and soul and body to the grindstone.

Not only that, I took considerable financial risk to fully fund this project, thanks to my long-suffering and ever-supportive husband.

Since the book was printed, I have spent quite literally countless hours cataloguing, promoting, marketing, distributing and ensuring the book's success. I have been tireless and the fruits of my labours have definitely paid off. Riley and the Sleeping Dragon continues to sell strongly in China and is taking off here in Australia, much to my delight.

Despite the book's success, however, the costs of producing it have been considerable and in a way, I still have not been adequately 'paid' - not even nearly enough considering the hours I've put in. But because the book is my heart and soul, it doesn't matter. The money is a bonus to me, especially when I see the delight on the faces of the children I read to, and when I hear adults tell me the book has become their child's favourite. What more could a children's author want?

In order to continue to produce the Riley series, I need an illutrator who is passionate about working in children's books and someone who understands there isn't a lot of money in it unless it becomes a national or international best-seller. I also need someone who understands that children's books, no matter how financially successul, are a wonderful vehicle to showcase their work and possibly allow the artist to move onto bigger and better things.

Finding someone who is as passionate as I am about Riley is naturally tough - especially considering the character and the journey is all within my own head. But I believe in what I'm doing so so strongly and I believe that when you are honest and open and driven purely by a love of what you do, wonderful things happen.

So the good news is, I may have found a new illustrator - someone who can continue to take Riley on his fabulous world adventures. And someone who understands that books are a labour of love, not a money-making machine. If you are wanting to write or illustrate children's books, take heed of this statement. And also this one: if you do what you love, the money will follow. How much is uncertain, but trust me, it will.