Part 2 with Susan Eaddy: Adventures in Hybrid Publishing
Let’s finish up our interview with clay illustrator Susan Eaddy as she discusses her current project and new opportunities in publishing.
OUaS: You are in the middle of working on My Love For You Is the Sun, by Julie Hedlund, founder of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge. The book will be published by Little Bahalia. Tell us how you first became involved with this project.
SE: I went to the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair in 2012. Sarah Towle, an amazing app expert & consultant gave Julie a consultation at the SCBWI booth. She told me, “Oh, you two MUST meet!” We had dinner together, and later met again at the LA conference where she bought Papa Fish’s Lullaby for her children. Julie had been in discussion with her publisher and her agent about this hybrid publishing model, and apparently her kids pressed her to ask if I would be the illustrator. I kept a blog about my Bologna experience; I think I may have mentioned dinner with Julie, but I had no idea where that introduction would lead. One truly never knows where an opportunity or collaboration will come from.
OUaS: The book is being published under the “hybrid” model of publishing. Most explanations of the hybrid model suggest that the risk is shared by the book’s creators and publisher – in this case that’s you, Julie, and Little Bahalia. Can you describe how the three of you shared the risk and how you will share the benefits once the book is successful?
SE: Yes, the advance payment is much smaller for this sort of project. ALL of us risk in putting a huge amount of work in the front end. I am madly working on the illustrations, Little Bahalia is designing and printing & positioning the book in the marketplace, Julie is not only the author, but the marketing guru, developing films, websites, and social media. It is a tremendous investment before the book is printed, but if the book sells well we will all do well.
OUaS: What has been your favorite part of working with this hybrid model? What would you do differently on your second hybrid venture?
SE: I have to say, working with Julie and Little Bahalia has been the best. We are all excited about the possibilities in this out of the box approach. And since it is a small group, we can brainstorm and be very creative in the process, without the sometimes kludgy experience of getting approvals from many people. Being small in this case equals being nimble, and we can publish more quickly. The whole process from contract to books in hand will take less than a year.
OUaS: What advice would you give a new illustrator who might be considering working with an author on a hybrid book?
SE: First, make sure you have a contract. Don’t just sign the first thing that appears to you, contracts are made to be negotiated, and make sure you feel good about your compensation, because once you have agreed to take it on you HAVE to do your best job. Secondly, if you plan to use Kickstarter or a similar crowd funding site, do your homework to figure out HOW to make it work for you. Julie has information about the process on her website. It really takes someone who is savvy with social media and networking to make a crowd funding project successful. I am naturally shy and am NOT good at that stuff. But Julie is great at it THANK goodness. So at least one of you in a hybrid project needs to be the designated marketing/social media guru. And of course, you have to have a project that you really believe in! Your passion will help you create work you can be really proud of!
OUaS: My Love For You Is the Sun is not your only book in production right now. You also have Poppy’s Best Paper coming out from Charlesbridge in 2015. What can you tell us about Poppy? Originally you wrote and illustrated it but then you and your agent decided to submit with a different illustrator, what’s it like to be the “writer’s seat” as opposed to the “illustrators seat”
SE: Poppy’s Best Paper came out of a Children’s Illustration class I took with Robert J. Blake. I polished the manuscript and created a sketch dummy in his class with a couple of sample clay illustrations. I started submitting it but I kept hearing the same thing over and over…the clay is not really a good fit for this story. I agonized & re-did illustrations for YEARS. Finally, Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary asked me if I would be offended if they submitted my story with Rosalinde Bonnet’s illustrations. I looked at Rosalinde’s website, thought about it for about 30 seconds and said “Go for it!” Charlesbridge picked it up, and I have just seen the first round of sketches. I am THRILLED with her interpretation! I mean really, she has given Poppy a spirit and character that makes me laugh out loud. She TOTALLY gets her. I know that Poppy is in good hands now, and and one of the best parts is that MY job is done! At least until the book is published, and then of course I’ll be working like crazy to promote it.
Thanks Susan for sharing your wisdom and beautiful artwork in both posts! Readers, take a look at Julie Hedlund’s video for the original Kickstart campaign below. You can also see the original campaign here and read Part One of Susan’s interview here as she describes working as a clay illustrator.