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Old 06-11-2019, 07:31 AM
nebra nebra is offline
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Questions/Comments on Potential Illustration Competition

Hi everyone!

Nebra Sky Media was recently established to manage the rights of a new series of illustrated books formatted to be read and shared with 3-6 year olds. The series contains 48 complete stories, i.e. 48 books, all featuring a lead character and her two best friends in their many fantastical adventures. All 48 stories have been completed and are in the process of undergoing translation into 43 languages.

We expect the finished books to print in the standard 32 page format and aim to launch the first 12 books in the series simultaneously (and in the additional 43 languages, plus English).

The reason for this post is to kindly ask for some feedback, comments and suggestions on a potential illustration competition. The driving force behind a competition is the author, who is keen to offer the illustration opportunity for all the books to any illustrator, notwithstanding nationality, language or experience.

How would the competition work? We would provide competition entrants with a detailed guideline that would explain what they need to create for a successful entry: 1) their concept for the three main characters; 2) two scenes from a sample story. What we won't do is to give entrants any design theories for the characters or the scenes (please COMMENT) We WILL provide an outline of the character's personality, skills, etc. and the sample story itself provides enough description for the two sample scenes. (please COMMENT) The thought process here is that we don't want to taint an illustrator's creativity: the whole purpose of a competition is to discover someone who can conceptualise something amazing!

How to select the winner? We would first shortlist 10 entries and then this is where it gets interesting! We have a group of 10,000+ parents and children in the targeted age group ready to vote on the shortlisted entries. The competition winner will then be given the opportunity to either accept a single prize amount or illustrate all 48 books on a commercial contract (please COMMENT.)

As for timelines, we would launch an online platform for registrations and then allow participants two months in which to submit their entries; judging and final selection will take 4-6 weeks (depends on the number of entries and the time to create the shortlist).

All participants will receive a certificate of entry and we hope to one day mount an exhibition featuring all 10 finalists (which is why we will ask every participant to keep their roughs, sketches, etc. that they produced during the creative process).

Some caveats (also for discussion/comment).

By the participation in the contest the illustrator would guarantee that the submitted work is fully original and was has published before in any form whatsoever. They also guarantee that they have the full copyright. If they took the single prize then they would transfer the copyright to our company; if they chose to illustrate the books (or a subset of the total 48) then we would enter into a commercial contract that pays a royalty share.

Some questions/observations:

1. Does a competition give the perception that we are trying to get illustrators to create work at no cost? CON: given that unless they win, the time and effort might have been wasted. PRO: a client who wants a building designed will approach numerous architectural firms, all of whom put in time and effort to design their concept, knowing that only one of those firms will get the contract.

2. Is two months to create an entry, i.e. three characters and two scenes, too long? Bear in mind that these books are targeting 3-6 year olds and very complex illustrations are not necessarily required. Should we reduce this timeframe to one month that simulates a commercial environment?

3. How would you approach the competition? What would you expect us to deliver to you so that you can produce an effective entry?

Thank you for your help. And of course, if we do launch the competition we hope many of you will be some of the first to register!
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Old 06-11-2019, 09:13 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Questions/Comments on Potential Illustration Competition

I did a search on your name, got one hit, and it looks like a redirect to a site about apps. So big huge problem right there. Also, the domain nebraskymedia.com is for sale. Big nope.

IMO, this is a lot of work to ask people to do on spec and with little chance of a profitable outcome. You give the comparison of architectural firms submitting proposals for a building, but that's usually just three firms and they don't have to pay to do that, plus they have a good chance of making a profit for the time they invest in their proposal.

I also wonder why you are asking artists to come up with characters and whatnot when the stories are supposedly already written.

How are you going to market these books? Through traditional venues? Or is this one of those deals where the artist gets a "discount" on the books they illustrate rather than getting an actual fee? It looks like you are not any kind of publisher. It looks like you will do POD to market customized books to your 10K parents.

Finally, I do not think it is a good deal for illustrators to give up their copyright. I illustrated my own book published by a traditional publisher and did not have to give up my copyright. Why should they?

And if you say "exposure," everyone here will be happy to beat you.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:19 AM
nebra nebra is offline
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Re: Questions/Comments on Potential Illustration Competition

Many thanks. We appreciate your comments.

As indicated, we are a new entity specifically created to publish this series of stories - domain is nebrasky.com. The characters are written into the stories, but we wanted illustrators to submit their own unique concept.

As for copyright, etc - nothing is set in stone... hence the reason why we posted on the forum to get valuable feedback like yours. The 10k+ "judges" get free books for their participation; illustrators don't pay anything to enter the competition nor would the winner pay anything - in fact it would be the total opposite

Last edited by nebra : 06-11-2019 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:11 AM
theBongolian theBongolian is online now
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Re: Questions/Comments on Potential Illustration Competition

Quote:
Originally Posted by nebra
Hi everyone!

Nebra Sky Media was recently established to manage the rights of a new series of illustrated books formatted to be read and shared with 3-6 year olds. The series contains 48 complete stories, i.e. 48 books, all featuring a lead character and her two best friends in their many fantastical adventures. All 48 stories have been completed and are in the process of undergoing translation into 43 languages.
Yow! 48 stories, 48 books, 43 languages for three year olds, before any illustrations are in place!. I would think a book for a three year old would be mostly about the illustrations rather than the stories. How involved can a story be for a three year old? How many three years have read 48 books by one author? TO write 48 "illustrated" books translated into 43 languages before you have any illustrations -- or any idea of what the illustrations might be seems an odd business plan to me. You should pitch this to Shark Tank and see what they think about it!

You should DEFINITELY post all 48 titles, and list all 43 languages to demonstrate how solid(vs speculative con) your project is.
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:28 AM
nebra nebra is offline
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Re: Questions/Comments on Potential Illustration Competition

theBongolian

Thanks for your input. To clarify, the books are designed to be read to children by their parents, with the illustrations visually highlighting the story itself. We already have visual concepts; the purpose of the post (to explore a possible design competition) is based on the author's recent wish to open up the illustration to someone out there who is brilliant, but still trying to get a foot in the industry's door. If however the general feedback is that we are likely to face too many hurdles with a competition, then we'd rather know sooner rather than later and so continue to value everyone's frank/constructive comments.
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Old 06-14-2019, 04:21 PM
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J.W. J.W. is offline
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Re: Questions/Comments on Potential Illustration Competition

Just find an illustrator whose style you and the author like, and who is willing to do the job, and throw money at them. If you can afford to give away 120,000 books in one go ("10k+ 'judges'" + "launch the first 12 books in the series simultaneously"), you clearly have cash to burn.
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Old 06-27-2019, 11:42 AM
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lorianikins lorianikins is offline
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Re: Questions/Comments on Potential Illustration Competition

Before entering a competition like this, I'd want to know the specific numbers (incentives) up front. How much money would the winning illustrator receive if they choose the "single prize"? (If it isn't very much money, then I'm certainly not giving away my copyright!) What's the percentage you'd pay in royalties? Would the royalty percentage increase over time, if sales increase over time? (I think that's how it usually works.)

Personally, I wouldn't even consider the royalties-only option ... way too risky for an unknown author/publisher. (If I win, illustrate 48 books, and then it doesn't sell ... I get paid NOTHING for all that work!) You might consider offering a reasonable advance/up-front payment for the illustrations for the first set of 12 books. If those books sell well, then the artist might be more likely to consider accepting a royalties-only deal for the remaining books.

You didn't mention anything about the cover art; I think that's usually a flat-fee payment, a couple thousand dollars.

FWIW, I attended an online seminar recently about doing book illustrations, and they said the average charge ranges from $100 to $400 per illustration. That rate is only for the original artwork. That rate also does not include "print-ready" digital files. That rate also assumes the artist retains the copyright, or allows a strictly limited copyright to the publisher (such as, the publisher can use my art in the book, but cannot use it for anything else; not on their website, not in advertisements, etc.) If you want the copyright, the artist will hopefully have enough business sense to charge you accordingly.

Last edited by lorianikins : 06-27-2019 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 07-16-2019, 09:01 AM
nebra nebra is offline
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Re: Questions/Comments on Potential Illustration Competition

Lorianikins

Thanks for your very constructive comments. We ran a small trial competition and had great success. Here's what we discovered:

All entrants were willing to submit their concepts for free.
We provided an outline of the three main characters and a sample story to create one scene. We provided little guidance as we didn't want to influence the illustrators creativity.
Based on some of the comments above, we offered the chosen illustrator and agreement that comprised a royalty agreement and an advance per book.

The results have been amazing, and although we thought to use this mini-competition as a learning exercise, it turns out that we found - and chose - the most exquisite illustrator who has begun working on the project.

We'd like to give a quick thanks to everyone on this forum who provided comments to our original question.
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