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.
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!