Thursday, March 14, 2019

Postcards: Overcoming a creative dry spell with a little promotion

I try to work on something related to children’s book illustration/writing everyday — when I am feeling creatively stuck, I turn to promoting my work. That way I accomplish something everyday, even during a creative slump. Recently, I finished my first mailing of postcards and here’s what I learned along the way. 

What should go on a postcard?
Limit the artwork to one or two pieces of your best work with a strong narrative and characters. The purpose of the postcard is to pique the interest of your viewer and bring them to your website. 
Include your name, contact info and website. 
Include your website/name on any side with artwork. That way if your postcard gets pinned up on a bulletin board (either side facing out), the art director, editor, etc. doesn’t have to take it down to find you.

I have collected a lot of postcards at SCBWI conferences over the years, and here are some that I find most effective.

Check out others’ postcards at conferences. Which ones stand out to you?

Create YOUR mailing list.
This is the fun part. Go to a bookstore or local library and start researching books you love! 

I keep an ever-growing excel sheet of the names of art directors, editors, and agents who have worked on my favorite illustrated books. Figuring out the names of art directors, editors, and agents requires a little detective work, but it’s exciting, especially when you start discovering trends of the same people working on many of your favorite books! Check book interiors, sometimes they include the names of editors, agents, and art directors. Search google and Publishers Marketplace and you can usually uncover this information.  You can then verify names and publishing houses and look up addresses in SCBWI’s most recent version of the THE BOOK: The Essential Guide to Publishing for Children the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market. I use the online/ digital versions because it is easy to search by name or publishing house, etc. Publishing people change positions and houses often so its important to make sure your using the most up-to-date sources, and updating each time you send a new mailing.  Ideally you want to send mailings 4 times a year — a mailing at the beginning of February, April, July and November. 

Where to get postcards printed?
I usually search for the best deal online. I printed my last two batches of postcards with Vistaprint — they often run promotions.  There are many other companies that print postcards.  I love the quality of Moo cards, but they are too expensive for my budget. Always print extra postcards. Your list will continue to grow. Carry extra postcards in your bag, bring them to SCBWI events.  Next time when someone asks you about your work, hand them a postcard! 

Send them out into the world, and get back to work.
It was satisfying to put a big stack of postcards into the mailbox. Even better, after this process of looking through postcards of my peers’ work, researching illustrators, and art directors and editors whose work I admire, I felt really inspired to run back to the drawing table. So if you’re feeling creatively stuck, maybe try a little promotion.

Below are links to several other blogs on promotional postcards I found helpful:

The Route to Publishing as an Author/Illustrator by Eliza Wheeler

Sara Gavryck-Ji is an illustrator living in Berkeley, CA. 
Follow her work at or on Instagram.

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