In light of the upcoming conference, postcards are a great way to promote your illustrations! It’s simple, just send out a small sample of your work to any ol’ publisher and they’ll certainly be interested in you!
Just kidding… I wish it was that easy.
There are a few things about postcards that any illustrator new to the children’s book world needs to know, things that I wish I knew before I went and spent money on sets of wasted postcards… I really should’ve done more research.
The thing about postcards, the creative side:
- THE POSTCARD SHOULD HAVE ONLY WHAT YOU WANT TO ILLUSTRATE ON IT. This seems pretty obvious so maybe I’ll back up and ask…
- WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO ILLUSTRATE? If you don’t know exactly what you want to illustrate I would hold off on making a postcard for now. Why would you send something to a publisher if you can’t repeat or don’t want to make more of what you sent them? So…
- FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU LOVE TO CREATE BEFORE PROMOTING YOURSELF. I’m harping on this because I personally did not know what I wanted to draw or who I was as an artist. I still struggle with this sometimes. For some illustrators, they know their style and they can repeat it and those are the lucky ones.
- MAKE SEVERAL DRAFTS BEFORE COMMITTING. Design matters just as much as the image itself. You might have the PERFECT image that represents your work but it doesn’t fit in postcard size because of the image being too detailed or it doesn’t really work with font, then that might not be your image.
- While we are on fonts, CHOOSE THE RIGHT FONT FOR YOUR BRAND. You don’t want to have a font like Papyrus for a children’s book illustrator promo card, I mean unless it somehow matches a quirky pirate and you really like illustrating pirates.
- THINK ABOUT THE FRONT AND THE BACK. Okay so you might be able to get away with the image not being font friendly so you now need to worry about that information looking professional on the back. Oh, and while your back there, make the information memorable by adding some quirky image that works with the front image. The best postcards I’ve see are the ones that continue their little story on the back with something unexpected. Note that it might be a good idea to make it clear your images CAN work with type if you are illustrating for children’s books.
The thing about postcards, the business side:
- RESEARCH THE PEOPLE YOU’RE SENDING THESE THINGS TO. You can’t just send a card with sea animals on it to, I dunno, Shen’s Books, an imprint of Lee and Low Books which focuses on multicultural stories only. You might be able to send those cute sea critters to Boyds Mills Press though, depending on the style. Go look!
- MAKE THE POSTCARD STAND OUT. I added this part in the business section because standing out amongst other illustrators is a good business tactic. It’s a combination of an eye-catching image, great design, and good story telling. That publisher will have postcards everywhere and it’s the same for conferences too. The last conference I went to I came home with half a bag full of postcards.
- COMPARE WITH BUSINESS CARDS. Do you have a business card with a completely different style than the one on your postcard? That might actually be a problem. Sending mixed messages there…
- SENDING HOLDAY CARDS MIGHT BE THE WAY TO GO. I haven’t done this yet, I’ll admit it. But I can see how constantly sending out cards to different places and keeping up with the times/season might be actually a good way to get attention. Now I’m not saying to like bombard one publisher with a bunch of your postcards constantly. That would probably get you BAD attention. Having designs for holidays every year would even be nice for family and friends too, just get people interested in looking at YOUR work.
- AND LAST, GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR ILLUSTRATOR COMMUNITY. Okay I just like to add this with every post because it is important to be around other illustrators and see how they solve illustrator problems…CRITIQUE GROUPS!!!
I’m NOT a published illustrator but I’m learning. Everything I just mentioned is based off of the mistakes that I’ve made, some research I’ve done, and things I’ve noticed from successful illustrators.
For kicks and giggles, here are some of my failed postcard designs…
I’ll make a better one this time, I promise haha.