Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers 2012

I promised to post about the 2012 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference held in Sandy, Utah at the Waterford School Campus. I have helped at this conference multiple times over the years and this year was asked to be the illustrator faculty member teaching morning workshops and a few afternoon sessions. Every year I am amazed at the vast amount of knowledge, expertise, and market information that is shared at this conference. This year was no different.

My friend and award-winning author Carol Lynch Williams works SOOOOOO hard each year (for 13 years and going now) to bring together professional authors, illustrators, agents, editors, with beginning & advanced writers and illustrators. There is no other conference I've ever been to that provides what this conference does. I'm so glad to be a part of it and so thankful Carol is willing to devote so much to it year after year.

This year's faculty for the week-long, morning workshops included Carol Lynch Williams,  Cynthia Leitich Smith, Greg Leitich SmithA.E. CannonAnn Dee Ellis, Mette Ivie HarrisionMatt KirbyTrudy HarrisTim Wynne-Jones, and myself (although my class only lasted from Monday through Wednesday).  We also took turns presenting afternoon sessions on different aspects of our craft.

I enjoyed teaching the aspiring artists in my illustration workshop sessions each morning. There was so much to cover and so little time. I only hope I could help guide them enough and that they could catch those bits of knowledge that I wish someone had told me when I was starting out. My assistant was very helpful and kind as was the entire class. It was a great teaching environment. And I had the most amazing class (Thanks for the lilies and red car-pet). Here are some pics from the class (Thanks to Laura Randle for snapping some great shots).

watercolor illustration demo

The class after our lunch together. Poor Bruce (my assistant) was the only guy. I don't think I've ever seen that happen in an illustration class before. He held his own though. :-)
Half-way through the week, I especially enjoyed listening to Trent Reedy's keynote address. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room.  He spoke about his experiences that led to him writing "Word's in the Dust." Amazing! I can't wait to read his next book "Stealing Air" (the ARC of which I snagged at ALA). I just need to find some time.

The King's English Book Shop came in to sell books (a hard job when there are so many authors involved in one signing).  They are a fabulous independent bookseller in Salt Lake. If you are ever here, you should stop by their shop.

Editors Ruth Katcher, from Egmont USA, and Alexandra Penfold, from Paula Wiseman Books, and agent John Cusick, from Scott Trimmel Agency also delivered great speeches, answered questions in classes, and provided selected critiques. Ruth and Alexandra have actually attended different conferences in Utah before that I was assisting with and it was so great to see them again and catch up. It was great to meet John and all the other authors I've never had the pleasure to interact with previously. I feel privileged to have been part of such a talented and kind group of people.
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Free Printable Calendar Card- July 2012

With my rush to prepare for ALA and the WIFYR conference (and all my kids end of school stuff) I forgot to post June's Calendar Card Printout. I'm so sorry. For those of you who don't know, it was my goal to publish a free 4x6 printable calendar for you each month. Here is the calendar for July.
click to open the larger image then right click to save to your desktop
And here are some images of March's Calendar so you can get an idea of how to print or use your little calendar. Enjoy!
print the calendar on larger paper at the bottom half, print, embellish, and fold

print on a 4x6 photo card and put on a magnet board with a cute magnet

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How to Create a Digital PDF Dummy Book

I also promised my WIFYR class that I would post a tutorial on how to create a digital dummy book. Some editors prefer to receive submissions only through email, so this version of the dummy is important.

You need Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro (not just the reader) to complete this tutorial and create your digital pdf.

  • Open Adobe Acrobat and Click FILE, CREATE PDF, FROM MULTIPLE FILES

  •  Click the ADD FILES icon...

  •  Select all the files you'd like to add and click ADD FILES. You can do double page spreads OR each as a single page. Doing single pages is just fine if you already have those files created. When viewing the pdf, you should simply instruct the viewer to choose 2pages up continuous view in the viewing options. Just make sure they are saved in alphabetical/page order

  •  When they are imported, make sure they are in proper order. If not, select the file which is out of order and click on the MOVE UP or MOVE down arrow til it's in the right spot. 

  •  When they are in the proper order, Click MERGE FILES INTO A SINGLE PDF and wait.

  •  It's that simple. Choose two-up continuous view.  SAVE FILE.

  •  If your file is too large, you can reduce it by choosing DOCUMENT, OPTIMIZE SCANNED PDF, set the settings to low resolutions.


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How to Print a Perfect Dummy Book

Last week I promised the attendees of WIFYR that I would post a tutorial on how to print a nice dummy book. Tomorrow I will also post a tutorial on how to make a digital pdf dummy book for digital submission. ENJOY!

However, you do need the program Adobe InDesign to do this. You can download a free trial of it HERE. Good luck and happy printing.
  • First create digital files of each of your sketches, all at the same dimensions, each page saved separately (separate the double page spreads). Then proceed.
  • Open Adobe InDesign and select, CREATE NEW, DOCUMENT
  •  Set the page size to Custom and Orient it appropriately and choose the length and width inches that correspond to your files. Set the number of pages to 32 and check the box by FACING PAGES. Click OK.

  •  Choose FILE, PLACE...

  •  Select all your digital files...remember to have made 32 of them beginning with title page, dedication, copyright, and each story page. Click OPEN

  •  Let the files import...

  •  Place your cursor in the upper left corner of the first page and CLICK. Then click on each page in the upper left corner until you've placed all 32 images.

  •  Click FILE, SAVE

  •  After you've saved it you are ready to begin printing. Click FILE, PRINT BOOKLET (not just Print)

  •  Click on PRINT SETTINGS (the rest is the tricky part and the screen shots and options may vary depending on your printer. I use a printer that came with my computer, nothing fancy)

  •  Then click PAGE SETUP. Make sure your paper size is set to 8.5x11 but change the direction to horizontal layout NOT vertical (the picture below shows vertical but please click horizontal) Click OK

  •  Then click PAPER HANDLING under the copies and pages drop down menu

  •  Choose the settings as shown below...AUTOMATIC, ODD NUMBERED PAGES, SCALE TO FIT

  •  Then click PRINT. The first set of pages will print. Then you have to take that stack of printouts and put it back into the printer tray in the proper direction for your printer to print the even pages on the opposite side of these pages. Every printer is different. This can be annoying to figure out so make a note of what you have to do when you figure your printer out so next time it'll be easier.
  • Once you've placed the pages back on the feeding tray click PRINT again and go through the steps to print but click on EVEN NUMBERED PAGES instead this time.
  • Now trim your little book to size and staple or sew on the center spine/gutter (I use a book binders stapler so I can get the staples in the right spot and so the book folds nicely).

  • Submit your dummy and hopefully you too can see it as a real book someday! Best wishes!
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Conferences and Signings - WIFYR and ALA 2012

So this will have to be a quick post because things are CRAZY busy around here.  I've just finished teaching a 3 day intensive workshop at WIFYR and am getting ready to leave for a book signing there this afternoon. The signing is open to the public and there will be many other authors there like: Tim Wynn-Jones, Brandon Mull, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, Mette Harrison, A.E. Cannon, Trudy Harris, Matthew Kirby, Ann Dee Ellis, and Carol Lynch Williams.  It goes from 3-6pm today at the Waterford School in Sandy Utah.

I had a great time teaching at the conference and will post next week about it and some things I taught. I had a wonderful class of eager students and was glad for their enthusiasm and dedication to learning.

I'm also packing to leave for the 2012 ALA conference in Anaheim, CA. If any of you are there, please be sure to stop by the Scholastic Booth #2634 on Saturday between 11am and noon. I'll be signing there but would LOVE to see a friendly face or two.

This will be my first experience with an ALA conference so I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm excited. Let me know if you'll be there or if you are and author or illustrator signing somewhere there.
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Meet Will Terry, author/illustrator, expert on ebooks

Here's another awesome guy on the picture book scene you just have to meet...WILL TERRY. I actually met Will back in my college days. He was one of my sophomore year illustration teachers...kind of an intro to illustrating class. He was a young guy, not too long on the scene, but had already made a name for himself in editorial illustration as well as the picture book market. I really liked him as a teacher. He says he pretty much shouldn't have been teaching, but I learned a lot about working as a freelancer, working in the industry, and about good design from "Professor" Terry (I never called him that of course- I'm pretty sure we all just called him "Will").  He was down to earth and cool. He made us all want to work as illustrators.

After graduating and getting into my own career, Will and I are no longer be student/teacher, but are friends and colleagues. It's great to connect with other illustrators and vent, bounce ideas, or just hang out  away from the dungeon studios in our basements.

And anyone looking for tons of info, how-to's, and tips on illustration and ebooks, Will has the answers. Check out HIS BLOG for more information than you can imagine.

So, without further ado, here's Will Terry...

You've mentioned on your blog and video interviews that the public school system pretty much failed you growing up...they often have a hard time with kids who creatively "color outside the lines." It's really sad that more and more, the arts are being removed from education. That whole discussion aside, what was your path to becoming a children's book illustrator?

I really wasn't good at anything else and so I was always painting or drawing as a kid. In H.S. I was never the best but always took art class. I crawled through the sewers to sneak into college - I had to go to community college to raise my GPA with easy classes. Then I was let into BYU on academic probation. I didn't really think I would become a professional illustrator but I never stopped trying. Cliche as it may sound - I was the little engine that could. One little chunk at a time- even pushing past the part where I was put on probation in the illustration BFA because my stuff just wasn't cutting it. My first mailers to attract freelance work were horrible - when I look at them now I can't believe anyone ever gave me my first assignments. But - probably the most important quality I did have was never being able to settle for what I was currently capable of. I was always looking to improve. I would say that what I lacked in raw talent I made up for with hard work. 

I didn't know it then but I was destined for children's books because I love creating cuter softer illustrations that tell a story. So now I find myself right where I want to be.

Others may not know that you have also tried out other ventures in your life, but have come back to being an illustrator. What brought you back? 

Yes, I've tried various other money making projects and careers - trading futures, selling trading systems, and almost became a California Corrections Officer (prison guard) YEAH - THAT'S RIGHT!!! What I've realized is that I'm miserable when I'm not creating art -and being miserable at what you do makes you ineffective and mediocre. And mediocre is a recipe for getting fired or losing really big...aka being a big loser. 

Your wife works, you have a few kids (preteen on up?), and you are the "stay-at-home dad." How do you juggle work and home? Do you have set work hours or are you more "go-with-the-flow?"

Actually my wife lost her job when she contracted an auto-immune disease so she's at home now. With the loss of her income I really had to step it up in the earning dept. I won't say it's been easy but we're making it. This prompted me to make some video tutorials that I could sell from my website http://willterry.com/. Sales were so good that I partnered with a friend to create http://folioacademy.com/ where we not only sell my videos but also tutorials from other artists. 

I've never been the type to set a schedule - not that that's a bad way to do it but for me I'm motivated enough to work whenever I can. Distractions have never been a problem so if the kids need something or my wife needs me to run errands it doesn't bother me to close up and re-open later. It was harder when my kids were babies but my wife was healthy then and took care of most of day to day. Not that I didn't change my fair share of diapers - diapers never bothered me that bad - guys! - get used to it - it's just poop - someone had to change your diapers so get over it!
You have had a lot of success with your ebooks, "Tickle Bugs," "Pollywog to Frog," and "Monkey and Croc." Do you plan on making more? What are the pros and cons of an ebook and what makes a successful ebook (in your opinion)?

I'm so in love with the idea of creating my own apps/ ebooks for children! I'm working on three apps right now and the idea of incorporating sound and light animation is really fun. Not that illustrating picture books isn't fun it's just different and I still love static images that really challenge me to incorporate the suggestion of movement. Making apps is neat because now I'm free to dream up new ways of telling stories. 

I believe that with all the current competition and future competition you have to be extremely creative with what you offer the world. It's going to be really hard to stand out so if your just swaying to the music like most people you'll get lost in the sea. It's the person who's break dancing to "Stairway to Heaven" that's going to get noticed. Laughed at? perhaps, but talked about - and that's what you need to be successful.
Any words of wisdom to the readers?

The world is changing faster than you or I can perceive. These changes are scary for most of us but through change comes great opportunities. It's our attitudes that will allow or prevent us from exploiting these opportunities. Some people only see the spilled milk. Others see an opportunity to drag their fingers through it and make art worth talking about.

I didn't ask Will about this, but I know he recently started a Kickstarter project. It's pretty cool. Check it out here.

And Thanks, Will...for everything!
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I'm a freelance illustrator working in the children's book industry. I love kids and raising my own 4 children. They are the inspiration and the passion behind all I do in art and in life. See my website at JulieOlsonbooks.com

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