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Writers are Introverts—But Selling Books is for Extroverts. Oh, the Contradictions! By Elaine A. Powers

 

 

small laptop on desk showing hands typing
Image courtesy of StockSnap from Pixabay

Writing is a solitary activity. Sure there are write-ins where authors gather to write en masse, and the absolutely essential critique groups where writers discuss what they’ve written, how to write, and bounce ideas off each other for story points.  Let’s not forget the valuable writers’ organizations like Sisters in Crime and SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators).  All of these group activities are very important but, in reality, writing involves one person and a piece of equipment for recording the words.

How and where the writer writes is as varied as the individual. I like using my laptop but the where varies. I find I need a variety of inspiring locations, even if it is to change from the dining room table to standing at the counter, or sitting at my desk overlooking the desert. Of course, the solitary nature of writing is well known—definitely suited for the introvert.

But what about afterwards?  What about after your words have become a book and you have to . . . market it? This is the terrifying part of the book business. Many authors say they are content with just giving copies of their book to friends and family. That’s sufficient.

I admit to those same thoughts in the beginning. But as I progressed in the world of book writing, I was forced to be more extroverted. I don’t believe I will ever be a true extrovert, but I have learned to enjoy being more extroverted. I have met many amazing people in the world of books because I dared to open up.

Walking into a shop to ask the manager to consider selling your book has to be the most terrifying act ever for an introvert.  Yet, I have consistently found people to be receptive and willing to give an author consideration.

A little girl reads a book
A child reading one of my books.

Most rewarding, however, is when children show interest in the books you’ve written for them. I know there is hope for the future when kids want to read a book instead of being consumed by an electronic device.

Writing and the end result can be the metaphorical key that opens the door to meeting many wonderful and interesting people. It may be uncomfortable at first, but is so rewarding in the end.

Elaine a Powers‘ most recent book is a favorite in Southern Arizona, where The Queen of the Night–the Night-Blooming Cereus blooms only one night per year in June. This rhyming book is available at amazon.com.

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
A favorite in Southern Arizona where the Night-blooming Cereus blooms one night per year. It is available at Tohono Chul because Ms. Powers made contact with them.
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Many Artists for Curtis Curly-Tail by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Even though I’ve created the Curtis Curly-tail stories (inspired by my close encounter with the REAL Curtis Curly-tail), many talented artists have brought Curtis to life visually.  Each of the Curtis Curly-tail series’ books has had a different illustrator and they each put their own individual style to his image.

The first was my dear friend, Art Winstanley.  He didn’t consider himself a reptile person, but his Curtis had a lot of personality.  He was also the one who set Curtis’ unique coloration.  Curly-tails in real-life are a mottled brown, but Curtis is green and always will be.  This helps him stand out from the other characters. Art drew his illustrations on paper using colored pencils.  Sadly, Art died shortly after creating Curtis.

A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding the waves in a red sneaker
Curtis, the perfect curly-tail lizard of Warderick Wells, decides to see where the tourists come from. He sets sail on his adventure in a ship of sneakers.

 

When I needed an illustrator to carry on the Curtis books, I asked Anderson Atlas to create a style similar to Art’s and he did.  He captured the innocence of Art’s work but brought his own energetic, fun concepts to the pictures.

A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding on the back of a Hutia, a rodent
Curtis Curly-tail and Horace Hutia become friends after declining hutia are brought to Warderick Wells. But when the hutia damage the cay’s ecosystem, what will the scientists do? What would you do? You pick the ending.

 

In George Town, Great Exuma, I was introduced to one of the famous local artists, Jessica Minns.  I asked her if she would be interested and willing to illustrate the third Curtis Curly-tail book.  Jessica brought a unique Bahamian style to Curtis in the book about poaching.

a children's book cover, blue and white, with several curly-tail lizards on the cover
Captured by poachers, Curtis Curly-tail finds himself on a boat full of native animals being smuggled out of The Bahamas. As he struggles to help the other animals escape, he realizes he may not be able to save himself.

 

However, Jessica didn’t have time to repeat her illustrating for me, so I asked an Eleutheran artist to create the picture for the fourth book.

an illustration of a green curly-tail lizard from the Bahamas
Coming Soon! Book four in the Curtis curly-tail series, illustrated by Monica Carroll

 

Monica Carroll has recently completed the illustrations for Curtis Curly-tail is Blown Away, scheduled to be published in 2019.  Her beautiful pictures are definitely worth the wait.

a curly tail lizard on a bahamian beach with blue sky and ocean, sand and green plants
Curtis Curly-tail Speaks on You Tube

 

The talented Anderson Atlas has also created the animated Curtis Curly-tail. He brought Curtis from the limited two dimensional drawing to a three dimensional, talking lizard, sharing his adventures with viewers. Check out Curtis’s YouTube channel!

Curtis Curly-tail is one adventurous lizard! The book series is here.

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BOOK PRODUCTION: Illustrations, by Elaine A. Powers, Author

People are often pleasantly surprised to meet the author of books they or their children love, and it’s fun for the author, too. One of the questions I’m often asked is if I also do the illustrations.

Heavens, no! I’m not nearly talented enough to create the wonderful pictures in my books. So, how do I find great artists?

If you are planning to publish with a traditional publisher, they select the illustrator—unless you are a combination author/illustrator, as some very talented folks are. Since I am an independent publisher, I choose my illustrators.

A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding the waves in a red sneaker

I first used a friend who was a graphic artist to bring Curtis Curly-tail to life in Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers. Unfortunately, Art Winstanley was unable to continue as my illustrator, so I looked for someone I hoped could copy Art’s style.

I was fortunate to find Tucson artist, Anderson Atlas. Anderson and I continue to collaborate on many projects. He is a talented artist and video-maker and is responsible for bringing Curtis to life at my You-Tube channel.A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding on the back of a Hutia, a rodent

Then, one of my co-workers asked me if I had any work that I could throw his son’s way. His son, Nick Thorpe, had just graduated with a BFA and was looking for work. I needed book covers for my “Don’t” series about animals of the Sonoran Desert, and he delivered bold, vibrant illustrations that really help sell the stories.

 

A book cover, with a Native American 'feel,' and a painting of a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out-of-Country Illustrators

a book cover of a nature preserve, where seeds are cultivated. Seeds are drawn as cute charactersFor my books based outside the U.S., I use illustrators located where the books are set. This is beneficial in several ways. Local artists bring accuracy and their cultural feel to the artwork. And, people are more likely to purchase a book that has been illustrated by a famous local artist. The Internet is wonderful for finding these talented individuals.

How do I pay the illustrators?  I prefer to pay them for my sole ownership of their work. That way, they get their money and don’t have to wait for the book to make a profit. Some artists request a percentage of the profits once the amount they were paid upfront is reached, but the record keeping for a publisher of my size would be prohibitive. I love to support the creative people in my life and do agree that the artists can show their work owned by me to further their professional development.

Many modern illustrations are digital media. This allows for the easy transfer of images around the world. Changes can be readily made, as well. Need a tree replaced? A minute later, the new one is there on the page. It’s truly wonderful. Art images tend to be large files and can be delivered through services such as Dropbox.

Thanks for reading today at Tails, Tales, Adventures, Oh, My! Questions about illustrations? Contact me at iginspired@gmail.com.

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It Does Take a Village to Make a Book! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Meeting Nora Miller

Colorful Illustration of young girl sitting on a stack of books, with a book open on her lap, reading.I do write my stories, of course, but I don’t create the books by myself.  As the saying goes, it really does take a village. Where did I find Nora Miller, editor extraordinaire and designer of my books? At an editor speed-dating event! I had written, “Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers,” and my friend, Art Winstanley, had brought Curtis to life in the illustrations. I decided to self-publish through Createspace, but I had a problem: How would I get the text onto the pages with illustrations? That was beyond my technical capabilities.

As I was contemplating this situation, I read an article in the newspaper. The local editorial association was hosting an event to allow a limited number of authors to meet with editors who provided a variety of services.  Each author could meet with an editor for five minutes, then move onto the next editor—just like speed dating. If a connection was made, the parties exchanged information for a follow-up meeting.

I thought my need was straightforward and that I would have to choose between several editors. However, when I asked the editors if they could put text onto an illustration, the repeated response was, “No.” I was getting discouraged. Then I got to Nora’s table and her answer was, “Of course.”

This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship.  Not only does Nora compile my books, she tweaks the pictures, formats the file for the publishing types and she edits in at least three languages! Oh, and she manages my personal website, www.elaineapowers.com, too. She is truly versatile and indispensable in an industry requiring knowledgeable and thorough partners.

Thanks, Nora!