Self publishing, is it worth it ? An illustrator´s point of view 3 – How vain is your credit card ?

Vanity press can not only ruin your publishing dream but also can leave you broke in the process. And to top that, vanity press can make you hostage to their company when it comes to you not owning your own files. So how vain are you ?
How desperate are you to put your book out there and becoming a successful children´s book author ?

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So what is – “vanity press”  ?
Well it´s a pejorative name attributed to those types of “publishing” companies that arrived when the self publish desire of many people out there became an actual market for people to be prayed upon. Attracted with promises of – exposure- to say the least and – overnight success- in many cases.
Things and catch phrases are a lot more toned down nowadays but when the first companies arrived on internet if you were an author wanting to find an alternative way of publishing your book, you could really think any one of these companies could put you on the spotlight and make you a really known and established author – like the real ones . Better even they all promised to do that without you having to go through the traditional route of desperation, rejection and disappointment people like Stephen King had to go through before the internet was invented and there was no vanity press.

You can recognize a vanity press company by the fact they all tell you that you can “publish” your book for free. They will give you your own store on their site and then you upload your book and nothing happens in sales.
Usually the only sales you make are when, either you buy your own book or your friends and mum get a copy.
This is the more traditional print on demand side of these companies. You have your book “published” , a copy will only be printed when someone orders your book on your store and that´s it. The company does not promote your book at all and so if you´re one of those authors that expect to spend your days just writing instead of putting at least 90% of your daily creative time on doing your own self marketing you can forget fame and fortune and you can forget sales because nobody will visit your shop because nobody will know that you exist.

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You can order yourself a copy of your book and generally the print quality is actually really good; many times awesome really and so you stare at the “published” result of your work with pride. You should be. If you actually have a good book , when it comes to print on demand technical results out of vanity press companies, if you created a really good design overall you should really end up with a great looking book which will feel as professional as any other.
But that´s it.
Nobody but you will likely see your work when you self publish through a vanity press company. It´s like if you are steering at yourself in a mirror.
Therefore, – “Vanity Press”.

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But if you think that´s bad, you haven´t seen nothing yet.
In truth there is nothing wrong with – vanity press – companies within a specific context. They are really capable of delivering a good product out of your work (if you have a professional looking graphic design you will not look self published) and also it´s true they provide you with a free online store and even a few good free tools for you to promote it by yourself.
So what´s the problem then ?

The dark site of vanity press sites is revealed when you are enticed to actually pay them for their “publishing packages” and there are lots of different options out there , each one with different characteristics, objectives, scope and of course price.
I´m not going to detail everything here for that reason but let´s just say that if you really want to spend a lot of money to publish your book , they of course will charge you (a lot) for their graphic services if you need help with designing your book, they will charge you for different types of marketing packages also and some companies even use to have something like almost a non-official illustration service option where I´m sure they commissioned artists and illustrators like me for original cover artwork and even full interior book illustrations; for example for children books.

Some vanity press companies were pointed to make you believe that you just need to show up with your original text , your credit card ready and they will do the rest because – they – have the ability to put your book under the spotlight, either by charging you for additional distribution packages or charging you double and triple for publicity you could do yourself on Add Words if you knew how.

The dark side of vanity press companies is in the way they prey on the lack of knowledge of authors who just want to have their book “published”. Of course , it´s business as legit as any other but it´s the mostly over inflated prices for those “special publishing packages” that make everything sound so … sleazy, sometimes. We can even sense the slime when we look at some of the options put out there promising the world to each and every author that is willing to spend sometimes not just a couple of thousand dollars but a lot, lot, LOT more trusting that on the other side there will be “an editor” and “a publisher” that actually will care or believe in their work beyond of how much is the limit on your credit card.

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I´ve worked for a couple of vanity press companies when I started to illustrate online. But not for long, once I got to understand what was happening in the shadows, of the particular places I was doing work for I just got out. I actually have to thank many of their (or “my”) clients there for the eye opening at a time when I was just trying to find my first jobs online.
The vanity press companies I did work for targeted specifically self publish children book authors. They had all the regular offers for printing and sell your book and on top of that they offered illustration services.
They of course prevented direct contact between the client and the illustrator and it was in three of these situations (in different places) that I started to understand how that whole thing worked.

Even though we could not communicate directly and freely without having the vanity press company controlling what message content would go through or not to both sides, some of “my illustration clients” managed to reach out to me through google search and they started to pose me some questions related to their doubts and concerns about the whole creative process. Among many things we soon discovered that for example one of my clients was charged around $12.500 for the illustrations alone as part of an “illustration package” for a children´s book work and was told the value was based on my professional rates vs their own fee for the “representation” service.
In reality when I was approached by the company to work on that project, they said it would be a great opportunity for me as I was just getting started on this online thing if I did this book for them. The only catch was that that children book offer was supposed to be for a really small side project of theirs at the company and the client could not afford to spend much in artwork , but even so after the company deducted their fees I would still get around $750 for my illustrations. And if I accepted to work for that book, I would end up getting some good exposure too.
And of course it was promised that if I did that, the company would then take me on for more expensive projects where I could make some real money.

As I was still doing this online illustration thing as a part-time trying to put my name out there without much knowledge of how to go about it on these early internet days, and because I still had my main illustration/design work here in my country, I accepted the project, actually believing I was really working for a small budget book. After all I was finally getting work from a real company out there and so this lack of transparency never crossed my mind in those days.
It was only when “their” client contacted me in private that we both understood someone was really spending a ton of money on “packages” and the person was beyond chocked that I actually didn´t had asked for $12.500 in illustration fee but I was just getting $750 out of the money payed to the company for that objective.
Then I learned that there was other concerns about the other “marketing or publishing packages” the client had also payed for on top of the “illustration package” and to cut this story short, the client simply gave up on the project, ( recovered about half of what had spent due to some – guarantee – clause somewhere in the contract ) but to my knowledge this person simply quit on trying to becoming an author.

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This is what I mean when I say vanity press can really kill your dream if you go into this field picking a real bad one. Maybe there´s some really good ones out there that can get you good publishing results, but even in the marketing department I don´t know of anyone that has used a vanity press company , payed a ton of money to publish a book and then ended up selling books after the first couple of weeks where the vanity press really tries to pretend it cares about the client´s payed for marketing needs. After a few days when something really feels it´s happening with your book , what usually happens is that an author that ends up spending a ton of money through vanity press soon realizes that that money should have been a lot well spent if that person would have invested in online adds herself instead of relying on a vanity  press company.

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Then there´s the “hostage” aspect of things too.
99% of the people when they pay for a work , expect to own it but if you go into a vanity press company beware of what you´re allowed to get.
I had a client of mine for which I did the book illustrations and then those were given to a vanity press company for publishing the final book and create a graphic design , which despite all the lack of quality in a lot of aspects still managed to put the book out there. Of course with not much results out of their “marketing package” at all. And let´s not even mention other “design issues” that came out of that insane client-company relationship after a ton of money was also spent.
Recently this person found a really good publishing alternative but needed the original files which the vanity press company kept and then the company refused to release the files…not claiming exactly they own them, but doing everything they could not to release the print ready pdfs , either by not replying to emails, presenting a ton of bureaucracy or doing everything you can think of not to allow access to what the client originally payed for.
The situation was actually very similar to what happened to this person here with the same company; so, when there´s smoke there must be fire. Read it and form your own conclusions.

So, overall, should you go into a vanity press company to have your book printed ?
Like I said, there´s no harm in using their print on demand services if you don´t mind about their overpriced printing costs and – shop fees.
You can get your nice online store and if you do your market right you can actually sell a bunch of books every month for as long as you know how to promote your book. As I mentioned keep in mind that the print on demand system will take from you most of what you can make on your cover price; for example if you´re lucky you can get about $2 out of a $15 cover priced book you publish. But this is the way POD or print on demand makes money so you either accept the rules or not.
And like I said, the good side of all this is that you can actually start to put your work out there. I would rather have one book of mine on an vanity press print on demand online shop , than ten books forgotten in a drawer forever.

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Take advantage of the positive things the vanity shop print on demand can do for you when it comes to exposure but I would never pay any of them for any of their “publishing packages” if I were you.

And like I said in another post, if you are really serious about becoming an author, there´s other ways of self publishing your book that gives you more control. They are expensive because you will have to buy copies of your book in bulk and learn to navigate the distribution and marketing stuff yourself; but if you do that with money you had putt away to get a “publishing package” from a vanity press instead, you can bet in the long run you will get a lot more better results than if you were scammed by those fake “publishers” and you´ll totally make sure you own all your files too.

Authors are becoming so aware of all this that there is even a new term for “vanity press” ; trying to escape the bad hype many publishing options out there are now presenting themselves as “hybrid publishers” which in essence in most cases are just vanity press companies in disguise, so beware of that too.
In short, if you want to be safe publish your book, do it yourself, learn how to paginate, hire a cool illustrator and/or a graphic designer with the money you would pay a vanity press and print your books anywhere in the world. Then sell them yourself.

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Not easy, you´ll not become the overnight author sensation vanity press promises you´re gonna be but take your time and don´t worry. If you have a good product based on quality work chances are you will get noticed. Just don´t be in a rush.

🙂

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Self publishing, is it worth it ? An illustrator´s point of view 2 – To print or not to print…on demand…

I take it that you already read part one of this rambling of mine on my other initial post… right ? 😉
So… self publishing your book, is it worth it or not ?
Well, the short answer is, not.
But there´s a positive catch here.

In my opinion, it´s not worth it if you go purely – Print on demand.
Let me rephrase that… it may not be worth if you go purely – Print on demand.

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The big question that many people ask is does print and demand work ?
Yes and no.
Why ? Because although print on demand is really easy to set up and it´s mostly free to get your own online shop, not only you will have a ton of work uploading your material into several of your pod-online stores but you will be so frustrating by the lack of initial visits and zero sales for months ( sometimes years ) on end that you´ll simply quit on everything. Many times convinced that your own work is totally crap when it´s not.
So this type of more immediate – self publish – solution can really become the death of your dream because you may come out of the experience thinking your work is no good or nobody is interested on what  your dream project is.
You set up your store, you upload your book, everything looks awesome and then you spend the next six or ten months looking at it while you´re the only visitor there most of the time. And then you quit, without realizing you´re really quitting before you even begun.

I bet you´re already confused.
Once again, self publishing your book, is it worth it or not ?

It all depends on what your goal is.
More… it all depends on what your expectations are when you start your self publish project.
If you´re one of those authors that are absolutely convinced your book is naturally awesome and therefore it will be easy to earn a lot of money by sailing it all over the world through the internet because everyone will be interested in it (after all we´re talking about selling in the entire world), think again.
Think again if you think – print on demand – is going to do that for you when you choose this more popular method of self publish.

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Another popular question tends to be, is print on demand saturated ?
Well, how big is the internet online market ? Does anyone know ?
Because, the first catch of  print on demand is revenue. Income generated by your sales.

No matter what cover price you choose for your self published book, the company where you are selling it and where you have your online store set up, will always take the larger chunk of your hard earned money.
Therefore, to get… let´s say, -rich- by being a self published author; or even for you to quit your day job, your book really, really, REALLY needs to become an overnight sensation all over the web and sell thousands of copies monthly, even better…weekly.
Even then if you become that successful remember that the print on demand company will be seven, eight or nine times richer than you, despite you´re being the one spending money to market your book.
Because print on demand companies won´t publicize your book for free, unless you´re getting amazing sales. And in that case, they are the ones who will have all the advantage in making your work known and increase sales because in the end they are the ones who will really profit from your talent. Come to think…not that much difference from real established mainstream publishers…but that is another topic for another time…

Is print on demand profitable then ?
Right now with your work, no matter if you self publish your book on amazon KDP, at LULU or in any of all the options out there, if you charge $15 for your book, with luck you´ll get about $1 or $2 per sale…and this is when the companies don´t also deduct “expenses” or have some other “fee” on top of your earnings for the “free” self publishing service they are providing to you. It´s true they have their printing costs associated and they give you the online space, etc…but we cannot avoid to think something is not right when it comes to what an author gets in the end.
But in the end you have to deal with it. If you go the print on demand route you need to accept the rules of the system.

For example on my own -“self publish”- metallic print shop at Displate, each time I sell a $39 print with my work , I get about $2 out of that sale.

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Which brings me to the second catch with the print on demand “free” option.
You have to spend money to make money.
Ok, this is true in every other business but it´s a lot more troublesome if you´re getting into self publishing for the first time, you have no budget for marketing but you managed to invest a few Dollar$ or €uros into web adds, either on Facebook, Add Words or whatever.
What usually happens with self publishing in print on demand, is that if you want to get some results out of it and generate sales, you actually spend more money on publicity than the money you make out of your sales.
This is particularly true if you´re one of those authors who cannot afford to spend a lot of money each month just on advertising your print on demand store.
So you´ll be spending your money to publicize the print on demand company more than you actually end up publicizing your own work at the end.

So, is print on demand a waste of time ?
If you have a ton of money for publicity and you are ok with the print on demand company getting most of your revenue out of all your efforts, you can at the same time end up selling a huge amount of books and actually in the end get a good income out of everything.
But I´m talking insane investments in publicity.
I know of a couple of self published authors who invest a minimum of 3K to 5K a month just on online adds. Yes, there are self publishing authors out there than can afford to invest $5000 a month just on that.
The good side of it is that they actually get results and those $5000 a month invested in publicity end up generating between more than $15.000 and sometimes a lot higher numbers in sales of their self published print on demand books.

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Over the web many successful (?) self published authors claim that they don´t need to spend more than about $100 per month on adds to get really good sales and some even claim that spend zero on adds and just use social media to promote their books and even then manage to get around $3000 minimum in book sales each month.
I have no idea if this is really like this or not. Maybe if you have excellent contacts and your social media is really targeting people that are interested in your books. That I can see working.
On the other hand, in my experience I never came across a self published author that besides having a budget to pay for my artwork did not had another just for publicity.
This is actually an answer to the question… how much does print on demand cost … It costs what you are willing to spend on publicity and that´s about it.

Recently I´ve started to notice a trend for about two years or so.
Like I already said on another post, most of my illustration work used to be done for mainstream clients, but over the last couple of years, I´ve been approached by more and more self publish authors too ; ( along with indie-companies which are now -real- mainstream publishers when they initially started as self publish efforts that really worked )  so I guess all that negativism which we read all over the internet surrounding the self publish option may end up having two sides after all and the failure and success of each project in the end rests on the quality of each offer vs how each well each author can spread the word around.

Just go to the Kindle store for example. You have awesome success cases of people who started in self publishing there who actually right now only work on their e-books for a living.
As a good example of this let´s take the success of my favorite supernatural and horror author of recent years, AMY CROSS. If you never heard about her and you love scary novels, you need to check this lady´s work at the Kindle store.

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Amy Cross is everything naysayers argue that cannot happen at all if you are going the self publishing route. She´s one of the great success stories that started in Amazon´s KDP so like I said before, there´s more to this self publish your book or self publish your novel thing that many detractors out there argue there is not.

Check this bit of interview with Amy Cross from another site on the web.

“Amy’s foray into the writing arena wasn’t easy. But it wasn’t as challenging as she expected. Because Amy was always writing short stories, mostly for fun, she eventually decided to take a chance by sending a few chapters to traditional publishers for consideration.

Not one ever got back to her, and Amy Cross would have been happy to forget about publishing at that point in time, content in the fact that she had given it her all.
But then Amy discovered self-publishing and realized that she did not need the help of a traditional publisher to pursue her writing dreams.

And once she discovered Amazon KDP, there was no turning back. She knew that she could produce as many stories as wanted without the irritating oversight of a traditional publisher.

Amy Cross doesn’t hold a hostile view towards traditional publishers. She just doesn’t think she could thrive in such a world. Self-publishing allows her to control the technical and financial aspects of her work.

I´m a huge fan of Amy Cross stories and I have my Kindle filled up with her books which I cannot recommend enough if you´re into paranormal imaginative stuff.
This connects to the same trend I´ve been noticing when it comes to children books regarding my work experience of the last couple of years as a children´s book illustrator available for hire out there.
Not only I´m doing now more than 50% of my work in each year for indie clients or self publishing authors but it also has become more common for many of the books which I did for self published authors to actually start generating enough sales for people to come back for sequels; so I guess someone must be doing something right without going broke paying for online adds; although at this point I cannot comment further on this with an honest opinion.
And by the way, this is also starting to be true for independent board game companies or board game authors too as many of the recent popular hit games on the board game market also started as self published/financed products that then took of in popularity either on personal websites or at KickStarter; “Exploding Kittens” comes to mind.

So, yet once again…self publishing your book, is it worth it or not ?

If you don´t expect to get rich or quit your job overnight.
If you don´t simply give up trying ( it´s very important to never stop publishing books and fill your store up with a lot of titles ).
If you don´t mind not getting much money out of your book sales when the print on demand company gets most of your price cover ; (go Kindle if you want to increase your margin by a lot).
If you are here to stay and first and above all you want to make yourself and your work noticed out there.
If you take it as a hobby that can potentially become something a lot more interesting.
If you can spend a bit of money in self marketing ( helps a lot ).
If you don´t want to have your dreams forever stuck inside your drawer.

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I don´t think there´s any harm in the world for you to get into self publishing.
Even starting with this not exactly -fair- print on demand option.
Once again get into it, knowing what you´re getting yourself into and I doubt you´ll be disappointed.
Who knows what can happen. Go out there and learn to self publish a children´s book if you have one in your imagination.
If you don´t do it you´ll never know. 😉

Just make sure you put a really professional looking book out there, like I mentioned on my last post. The way you present your book can be the best or the worst thing ever. Make sure you´re not arriving with a $25 spread page children´s book that actually screams $25 in production value.
But beware… make sure you´re not going broke in the process either.
Beware of the internet traps out there who tend to promise the world to brand new authors…And this brings me once again to – vanity press – companies which is a topic that will have to stay for another post later.

For now, go create your book and I´ll see you on my next post. 🙂

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AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK

If you are searching for how to hire a children´s book illustrator or concept artist take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do together.

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New look for my children´s book illustration / Fantasy & Science Fiction art website. Or… how to try to organize 20 years of paintings and going crazy once again.

Well… short post this one. Just to mention that as you might have guessed this website has now a new look. I´ve been trying for ages to organize my illustration content and you´re looking at another miserable attempt at that. If you have an idea and you think you need a children´s book illustrator, or fantasy / scif concept artist then have fun exploring my page.

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So if you´re browsing the internet looking to find a children´s book illustrator, trying to understand how to hire a children´s book illustrator or you are wondering how much does it cost to hire a children´s book illustrator take a look at my work and send me an email with details for your project. 😉

Click here to see some of my children´s book illustrations.

Click here to see some of my concept art or fantasy / scifi illustrations

Click here to see an example of one of my recent books “The Masterpiece (One big canvas – Book 1)

Click here to download and read my free Martian Fantasy Comics adventure too.


http://www.icreateworlds.net

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AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK

If you are searching for how to hire a children´s book illustrator or concept artist take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do togheter.

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Self publishing, is it worth it ? An illustrator´s point of view.

The most professional, best looking amateur ever ignored !

Self publishing, is it worth it ? Well, if you search the internet about this topic there´s a million different opinions out there. Most of them really negative on how self publishing ca be a waste of time or how self publishing keeps being a bad idea.
I have read a lot of things but I never read any article or opinion, from a professional illustrator point of view. This is where I think I can contribute to the discussion and bring a little beam of positive light into this so much trashed idea about self publishing your books.

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One popular understanding out there is that self published authors spend more time just trying to do their own marketing and stressing about it, than actually being writers and enjoying what they do.
Self published authors end up spending 90% of their time doing marketing and sometimes even less than 10% actually creating something.
And this is when people still pursue their dream and don´t just simply quit after the first couple of months with zero sales and zero visibility. Mostly because  like me, they have zero talent for online self marketing, or many times, (also like me), have absolutely no time to do it properly…and that is where the 90% marketing argument comes in.
Very true.

Particularly true if you, as a self published author expect to get rich or instantly make a career in writing or think you´re going to become an overnight superstar sensation on the web.
For every success story you read online and some really are true, there´s about a billion self publish failures out there.
And I speak for myself too. Trust me, I´m guilty of everything I see mentioned as a negative thing about self publish you see on the web also. Like everyone I made a ton of mistakes on my first attempts.
Working full time in illustration I hardly have the time to illustrate for clients, let alone do something for me that requires hours a day. The fact this blog has been on halt for almost a year now is proof of that too.
In short, if you don´t do your marketing right, chances are you will not become a popular author.

BUT…

If you think about it, that is true for everything.
And the first step to avoid that fate, if you want to have any chance of ever achieving something with your book, is to put yourself out there.

Handwriting Text Publish. Concept Meaning Make Information Avail

Don´t be afraid to put your work out in the world. Just do it as a hobby.
Do it for fun.
But do it really well !
In the specific world of children book authors , if you can invest some money in creating a really good looking , well produced book go for it as that is the way to arrive.
Rule number one, if you put yourself out there , if you´re looking to understand how to self publish your children´s book, your work needs to look as professional as possible.

Because in self publishing the risk number 1 is not investing a bunch of money on a project and then not recover your investment. Risk number 1 is arriving at the scene looking immediately like an amateur.
And don´t think because you´re self publishing,  therefore you´re not being that noticed, you won´t be immediately labeled as a stinky amateur. Sometimes by someone that matters and could really take your book to a different level.
Being labeled as an amateur should be your number 1 fear.
And why ?

Because self publish despite all the negative connotation that keeps having in many opinion circles, has a fantastic positive thing that in fact should be your number 1 goal right from the first go.
Self publishing can do for your book, with your name attached the same the initial free illustration web galleries did for illustrators like me when we started to arrive at the online illustration field many years ago, circa 1999.
Back then when I started to experiment with online job search on illustration it was the fact that sites like the classic Elfwood already existed that brought me my first commissions.
Online galleries that allowed us to post our illustration work for free ; sites like that which later evolved into stuff like the now popular Deviant art; which allowed us to spread our work around and get noticed.
That is why nowadays as an illustrator I also sell my own fantasy and science fiction illustrations on stores like Displate or as downloadable prints at my brand new Etsy store.
I´m not trying to get rich or even be a successful entrepreneur at we-commerce. I´m doing it for exposure because, many illustration commissions already came from clients that bought posters at my Displate shop.

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So, keep this in your mind when it comes to self publishing and before you get too depressed with the standard negativism out there from many articles.
Without you ever noticing it , your work can be seen.
Not only by amateurs but also by “invisible eyes” connected either to illustration agencies, publishing companies or when it comes to children books , if yours is really good , get the attention of some major mainstream publisher.
We never know who´s looking at our work online.
And you don´t need 1000 visits.
You only need 1.
The right one.
The one person who´s actually connected to an established spot within the art/publishing or media industry.
The one person that notices your work and recognizes your value and potential.
The one person that contacts you based on your “simple” online presence and which can take your name and your work to the next level creating new opportunities for you.

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I´m now an online full time illustrator because of this mindset.
I spent years “failing” and “self publishing” my artwork all over the place. And I failed so much and so many times that one day things started to work for me.
So it can happen to you , either if you´re an artist or an independent children´s book author you too can follow the same steps that many times contribute to establishment of indie companies like New Paige Press which is my favorite independent publisher to work with.
But that will never happen if your book looks totally amateur at first glance.
In just one second you can be totally forgotten.
So you should not go for 1000 visits or 1000 “LIKES”.
You should go for – that one second – of attention from someone , the 1 visit that really matters.

After spending 28 years in illustration, with about 10 years working full time online and in which 5 of those ten were also dedicated to create illustration work for a lot of independent and self publishing authors, at least from my point of view and personal life experience I can guarantee you that 90% of those people that really fail in self publishing , may not being failing just on the marketing side. There´s more to failure than the corporate reasons stated on my anti-self publishing articles out there.
It won´t matter if your marketing skills are awesome, if you´re the king and queen of social media in your own neighborhood or if you spend thousands of $ or € on Facebook adds or Add Words.
If you have really ugly book, which totally screams amateur up front there´s no reason to blame anything else. You can even have the greatest children book story ever told. You have an ugly amateur book, you´re gone.

TerribleSelfPublish

The main thing that negative articles about self publish usually don´t mention, or don´t give much attention to, is the fact that probably 99% of the self published children books out there fail because they are really amateur and really , really badly produced when it comes to illustration.
I see that happening all the time in children´s book Facebook groups, Instagram and all over the place.
Many people think their book is so awesome that they are convinced they don´t even need to invest on professional artwork, professional editing or professional design.

As an illustrator, I see that all the time.
As an illustrator I see people in forums asking themselves how come their book is not selling when many times the answer is right there visually ! And don´t even try to explain to them what is happening with their book.
I´ve made that mistake once trying to help an author and let´s just say it, from now on if a person don´t ask for my opinion as an illustrator I won´t be the one to comment.

If you´re a children book author and you are serious about it, although self publish is mostly free out there, that does not mean you should not have a good initial budget when it comes to producing your book.
I´ve seen people in forums with incredible amateur books ( the ones which are only loved by mum and friends ), but because they are loved by their mum and friends ( yes, that is an actual real argument for quality in more than one project that I knew ), the author is convinced he does not need to spend money on professional artwork.
In one example that I know, the author did not wanted to spend more than $25 per spread page because he found – an artist – on a known crowdsource site that did the entire book for less than $150.

Let´s just say, that you don´t want to arrive on the children book scene with a $25 spread page book. Not even on print on demand.
No matter how your mum and friends will say it´s great ( and you got it cheap too!! )
You really end up getting what you payed for. And this is not a compliment.

If you don´t know how to hire a children´s book illustrator for your project, do not make the mistake of thinking because , oh , you´re just self publishing , it´s your first try, you don´t have any money to invest on it and so it does not matter that much who you get.
It does matter.
Wait a bit, gather some cash and create your book well.
Don´t be one of those “self published” authors that contribute for the extremely negative numbers the self publishing scene presents from the mainstream side of things. It´s those self publish “authors” that totally justify the bad reputation self publish still has.

Don´t expect to get rich, but if you do it well, trust me; you will recover your art investment money and you can expect some surprises along the way. You never know who´s looking at your work online. You only need 1 person. 😉
Present yourself well, put a real quality book out there and make sure you´re the most professional best looking amateur that was ever ignored !

But beware of Vanity Press scams
Vanity press

More on this later. 😉

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AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK

If you are searching for how to hire a children´s book illustrator or concept artist take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do togheter.

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How to self publish a book. My two cents.

How to self publish a book. My two cents.

Hi everyone !
Of course all this stuff is really subjective and everybody has it´s own experience or opinion but I´m writing this post now because I think it can help a lot of people who´s just starting on this self publishing online thing.
I keep having a lot of people asking me about what to do to publish their own projects, either children books or other type of books and so I will try to give you some points to get you started. This is my opinion then.
Self publish projects are now about half of the work I get in each year. It used to be just stuff for established mainstream publishers for many years but since about three years or so, I have noticed a big change as many people started to approach me also with independent or self publishing content. Right now my amazon new listing features a mix between projects for established mainstream publishers like New Paige Press with the “Once Canvas” book series and also independent and/or self published books like The Mystery Puzzle for example. As an illustrator the market now has doubled for me because I do work for any type of client as long as the project fits me and I like the book that is presented to me. 😉

MyAmazonAuthorPage-Luisperes

Therefore I think this post now might help to make things less confusing for people who are just arriving.
This about how to start self publishing online and not leave your written books on the shelve. Who knows, maybe you can start your little independent publishing business from home. Trust me, it happened more times than you may think. It´s all about persistence, exposure and good planning.

So…

You wrote a story and don´t know how to publish a book ? There´s actually plenty of things you can do nowadays as the market for self publish books has really changed in the last three years or so, when it comes to different opportunities and ways for the common folks to put their work out there. For example, put your book in amazon.
Publish your book on kindle and/or as real printed book.
You don´t need to leave your books forever in your drawer anymore.
Publish your book for free.
You don´t know how to write but you can draw ?…
Well, publish a coloring book like mine then.

8x10_BW_60-COVER - book2_1250xSample

It´s now a lot easier (and many times even profitable) to become a self published author than it used to be. Self publish and be happy. 🙂
Don´t take it to seriously, just make it your hobby and then one morning you might find yourself with a new fulltime job.
Publish your book online. Self publish is actually a good door to reach more “professional markets” or maybe even to get your book noticed by established mainstream publishers.
For example a scifi book called “The Martian” which started as a self published project,  became the Ridley Scott movie “The Martian” with Matt Damon.

So don´t fear to dive into the self publish yourself. No matter what type of book you are writing although my focus here is on children books because those are what I am illustrating nowadays.

For example one of the best selling books I did recently, “The Masterpiece – One big canvas” , https://www.amazon.com/Masterpiece-One-Big-Canvas/dp/0578496380/ came out of a project which started as a self publishing effort for an independent author, Jay Miletsky and now he´s actually running his own established independent publishing company, New Paige Press out of the results in sales from his initial self published books, “Ricky the Rock”, “Beware of : The nose biting monster”, etc.

themasterpiece2-newpaigepress

I´ve actually already illustrated the sequel for the Masterpiece. The second volume in the “One big canvas – series” called “The Molding of the Clay” is about to be officially released and I will be starting to illustrate book 3 in a couple months too.
So, if one can do it, two can do it, three can do it.
You can do it too.

Just be aware of one thing. If you plan to go into self publish, besides gathering a comfortable budget for illustration work you should set aside a bit of money for online publicity, like google add words for example ; (facebook adds don´t work very well in my experience but this is  only my opinion) .
Then you need to have your work or info about it, posted everywhere in blogs, social media, sites, etc.
Don´t know where to start ? Start a blog if you don´t have one yet and blog about the making of the book. Don´t worry about having just one or two visits or readers on the first months. The more you write , the more you blog is picked up by the google search engine and the more people will know about your book.

Nowadays there´s a bunch of ways to self publish your book. Let´s look at some self publish ideas on how to start publishing your own book.

1 – There´s the zero cost way of publishing it on KDP Amazon like I´m doing with my coloring books right now.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083XGJS9N/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i4

In that way , you get your book written, illustrated and edited; (I totally recommend the “Affinity Publisher software” (more on that one later)). Then you upload the content into your own author KDP account for free, choose your price and amazon prints your book each time someone orders it.

kdp

At the same time you can create an alternative e-book version there from the same material you´ve uploaded and sell that too.
Amazon only gets a percentage out of everything. Don´t expect to become rich with this method but if you end up selling a few thousand copies your revenue will not be that bad too.

2 – If you want to do the same with your book like you did on amazon but also include an hardcover edition (amazon only prints soft covers), you can also self publish the book at the same time in www.lulu.com
It works mostly in the same way as amazon does. It´s actually much easier to upload your book pages and you can create your book in a bunch of different hardcover formats besides the traditional softcover one.

lulu

You can also create an e-book version … but this one I think its only on pdf if I´m not mistaken.
The point is that you can have your book spread all around the self publish platforms you can find. The fact you publish on amazon does not mean you cannot publish it again in another company so take advantage of that. You retain all your rights anywhere you go.

In all these options the revenue wont be amazing unless you sell hundreds of books per month because the companies take their substantial fee out of each sale too, but don´t discourage because like I said if you are a first time self publishing author what matters is putting your book out there.

On this note, one thing that is very important… if you´re going to start your online store , try to fill it up with more than one book. I know its hard to invest in illustrations and making the book, but the more books you have in your online store the more the site search engines will sell the book for you.
So do your best to start creating. After all if you want to become a children book author just don´t stick with a single book.

Also don´t be in the hurry to see results. It takes months for search engines to index new content on the web so while you are waiting to something to happen regarding sales on your first book, start working on a second one. This way when your first book starts to get noticed by people and most of all, by search engines a few months after you launch it, you then release a second one and send the message to potential buyers out there that you mean business and you´re not going anywhere. Get the idea ?

3. The more profitable way to make money in your books is also the most expensive for a new self publish author.
In this third method, you need to invest on illustrations and creating the book but you also need to have a budget to print real copies and stock your book at home to sell all over the place.

Usually nowadays printing in bulk in China is a good choice because their quality has become real good and they print 1000s of copies of your product at a lower cost than anywhere in the world like New Paige Press did with my books for example.

new_paige_press

You need money to make money in this number 3 option but in the end you´ll make a lot more revenue than just self publishing in regular KDP print on demand routes like I mention on points 1 and 2.
This way you get your amazon store not just as a print on demand author on KDP but as an independent publisher. You are the one who´s stocking amazon with your books when their stock runs out, you´re the one printing the books and so you retain most of the cover price you ask for there.
In point 1 and 2 you just get a small fee out of your sales because the companies have to do all the printing and selling work for you.

So I hope this post of mine gives you a few ideas to be excited about also publishing your own book.
If you have any questions let me know in the comments and I´ll be posting a couple more things on this topic later.

Check my other post on my ETSY prints store too. If you are a creative person and you are looking to find another way of getting your work out there and still make a little money read that text. 😉

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AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK

If you are looking for an affordable children book artist , concept illustrator or need a freelance artist to work on a pod project ( I do not descriminate print on demand material for sure; I love it ); do not forget to take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) and I´m always available to discuss future work.
If you have a dream, no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do.

***

luisperesillustrator@gmail.com

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IcreateWorlds Art – My NEW ETSY STORE!

IcreateWorlds Art – My NEW ETSY STORE!

Are you an artist ? Have you ever thought of making some money with your drawings ? Have you tried selling your images online ?
If the answer is no, maybe you should look into what Etsy has to offer.
After years of looking at the site, I finally decided to open my own ETSY SHOP. I have so many illustrations scattered around that I thought now is the time to put them to use and so after some research I noticed that one of the most popular products there are, downloadable digital prints; which is something I never expected and which is something that is perfect for my type of images and artwork.

Etsy-Icreateworlds-ScreenCapture

Another thing I noticed is that children room wall decoration or kids room poster artwork is something that seems to be in demand over there so to start with, I decided to give it a go at that.

From what I read and from the videos I´ve been watching online it seems that it can take a while for a brand new shop to be noticed and even make a first sale but I´m now following the drip-by-drip approach many established Etsy sellers recommend and I´m at the initial stage of just filling my shop with products to gather some traction within the internal Etsy search engine and maybe Google.

2d

What you see above is actually my best selling image at Displate and so I´m curious to see if it catches on with the ETSY audience also.

One of the great thing with Etsy for my type of art and product is that we can actually create downloadable art prints and an artist like me does not have to sell an actual physical product. I don´t need to manufacture or print my own images. Instead we just sell the high resolution images for people to print as they wish.
In my case, plenty of my children book type illustrations are perfect to decorate children rooms for example and so my downloadable art prints end up being a really cool way of creating home decor products without much difficulty.

Picture-Framed-1D

If you have some skills with image editing software like Photoshop , Krita or whatever maybe you should also start to think about what you can do with that.
I used to be a real disbeliever on these type of sites that sell our stuff because they take high commission fees and we are left with not much at the end for each sell. But… in reality, if you think about it… we the artists already have the images done, we don´t need to do any extra work and the only trouble we have to go to is upload the material into the sites. You don´t need to stick with only one of these Etsy type sites and you can monetize your digital paintings anywhere on the web.

6-Office

Drip by drip sales eventually will start to happen. I used to not believe in that at all, but last year I uploaded a couple of my paintings and after a few months of nothing happening my metallic poster prints at Displate started to sell and I haven´t spent a dime in online publicity. Sales just happened.
Although the artists don´t make much money out of each sale, nevertheless it´s money that comes in based on paintings and material we already have around.
The fact that my Displate store seems to be getting some attention in the last couple of months made me want to try and get into ETSY now too.

2a

So, if you´re an illustrator and you don´t have a clue about this online selling stuff, if you have some pics lying around wasted, I totally suggest you try places like Displate and Etsy for sure.

My ETSY SHOP is brand new so I have zero sales and almost no visitors yet but I´ll keep everyone posted on how I will be doing in the future if something happens with it and I´ll try to help everyone who´s in the same level as we go along.

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AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK

If you are a potential illustration client, if you are looking for an affordable children book artist , concept illustrator or need a freelance artist to work on a pod project ( I do not descriminate print on demand material for sure; I love it ); do not forget to take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) and I´m always available to discuss future work.
If you have a dream, no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do.

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Canyon Riders

Just another of my “test pics” to play around with the new Surface Pro 6 I got some days ago. See my other post below for more details on this device.

Illustration4b - 1250x

This one is also part of my new DISPLATE poster collection available to purchase on their store. 😉

https://displate.com/displate/1236266

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AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK

If you are a potential illustration client, if you are looking for an affordable children book artist , concept illustrator or need a freelance artist to work on a pod project ( I do not descriminate print on demand material for sure; I love it ); do not forget to take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) and I´m always available to discuss future work.
If you have a dream, no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do.

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On a hot summer night

Although I thought I was never going to own a Windows device ever again as I trully love the way Mac fits all my illustration needs, recently I got a new SURFACE PRO 6 and so I installed my faithful Clip Studio Paint EX and started to test it out.
These were my first two sort of speed painting examples I created with the help also of that amazing digital pen that you can buy with the Surface hardware.

summer night - 1250X

Actually I found illustrating with the Surface Pro 6 a lot more difficult or less intuitive than if I´m working with IPad Pro for a simple reason. I totally forgot that despite looking like a tablet the Surface are not tablets, but mainly are PCs that look like tablets. This means that for example a software like Clip Studio Paint just works as it does on a regular desktop. If you have a keyboard attached you can use shortcuts while painting but it you want to try to emulate a painting tablet with it, it takes some time and a lot of frustration before you discover that the touch shortcuts like “undo” or “copy” , etc that are so easy and intuitive to work with your fingers on PROCREATE on an IPad , these don´t exist on a Surface Pro running any illustration software. This means that what we can only do is use our digital pencil as a mouse and work through each of the available pulldown menu options on each software to do everything we need to do. Exactly as if we were working on a pc without a keyboard.

summer night FINAL-RUST-1250X

This does not mean the Surface is not a cool hardware. When we find the balance between not being able to use it as a painting touch tool and we adapt to that frustrating thing of having to use our pencil as a mouse to turn on each and every option of a painting software, if you want portability and also want a PC , the Surface is a good buy.
But if you´re an artist looking for portability and a more touch and go feel to the way you paint, then I would advise buying the IPad PRO instead.

Anyway, this was my first atempt at painting with Surface Pro and was inspired by a Jim Steinman /  Meat Loaf song ” On a Hot Summer Night” actually.

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AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK

If you are a potential illustration client, if you are looking for an affordable children book artist , concept illustrator or need a freelance artist to work on a pod project ( I do not descriminate print on demand material for sure; I love it ); do not forget to take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) and I´m always available to discuss future work.
If you have a dream, no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do.

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“DESERT RUN”

 

Another one from my “speed painting” current trend. Although “speed” is not even the right description for this process because although it didn´t took me 12 hours or so to complete it also didn´t took me 30 minutes either.
But I´m enjoying creating my world in this style where details are more about shapes and visual sugestions than on me actually having to draw them.
It has more of a traditional painting feel too and that is something that I always try to achieve.

Desert Run color 3 - 1250x

Someone told me the creature style resemples something like “Dr Seuss”, but it was totally accidental if it does as that author was never part of my imaginary world or was ever a reference from any of my thing.

Desert Run color 2 - 1250x

Desert Run 1A - 1250x

All my pics are more inspired by 70s european comics, like Meziére´s – VALERIAN or by novels / movie like DUNE. Although when it comes to fantasy type scenery my main inspiration source will always be The Neverending Story, book and movie.

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AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK

If you are a potential illustration client, if you are looking for an affordable children book artist , concept illustrator or need a freelance artist to work on a pod project ( I do not descriminate print on demand material for sure; I love it ); do not forget to take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) and I´m always available to discuss future work.
If you have a dream, no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do.

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“THE RIDE”

More of a book cover than anything else but I just did this for a video tutorial so I decided to post it here anyway.
rock world V3 1250X
This is a good example of what I mean when I say everyone can learn to paint pics like this simply because it does not contain any elements that need you to know how to “draw” them in the classic sense. If you take a look everything in here is just based on simple shapes and not on details that have been drawn. It´s all about the composition , the lighting and the color.
And no, it was not inspired by the movie “ARRIVAL” although I love it… so … well perhaps it was…somehow…
This is also a good example of the type of images I love to create without any planning whatsoever. I hate sketches and planning my illustrations. I just take a blank camvas and go with the flow.
rock world sketch - 1250x
rock world V2 - 1250x
Not even I, know what I am going to paint next because if I did any planning for my art , I would already be imagining the next pic once the planning was done for the current one and i would never complete anything. I like the mystery of just letting my imagination go.

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AVAILABLE FOR ILLUSTRATION WORK

If you are a potential illustration client, if you are looking for an affordable children book artist , concept illustrator or need a freelance artist to work on a pod project ( I do not descriminate print on demand material for sure; I love it ); do not forget to take a look at my illustration portfolio (Fantasy or Childrens Book art ) and I´m always available to discuss future work.
If you have a dream, no matter what your budget is don´t hesitate to contact me and let´s see what we can do.

***

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