In the following snippet of International Authors "backchannel" communication, surrealist Terrance Lindall
reports on his frustrations as he seeks a publisher for the illustrated version of Horace Jeffery Hodges' Bottomless Bottle of Beer
, and offers some interesting observations of the process he followed as he began his career as an illustrator.
Drums in Publishing
So, after a few skirmishes into the
tangled publishing jungle, we have learned a couple of things. One is that it
is not easy to find a publisher or agent, even if you have a well-respected
illustrator who knows a few people in the industry. Why?
First, there are 7 billion people in
the world. Many aspire to be writers or artists. The competition is fierce.
Second, the established
publishers do not want to take chances. Copy success, use publishing formulae,
use authors and illustrators with a pattern of success with the style they are
presenting. The comments I got from
presenting BBB are that “it isn’t a comic book format.” Others said, “it isn’t
a graphic novel format.” There you go. They do not know what to do with it! I
do not blame them for not wanting to take a chance. Why should they? They will
be out of business if they gamble with their business, which is always a
marginal enterprise. Even Marvel Comics was bankrupt.
The best way to be a successful writer
or illustrator is to go out and meet people in the industry. When I started
out, I published my own poster of “The Stone Eater and advertised in Stars and Stripes, and Heavy Metal. One day I walked into the
office of James Warren to buy advertising in Creepy and Eerie. They
asked what I wanted to advertise and I showed them the poster. They showed
James Warren who came out of his office to meet me. The exchange that followed
got me a cover commission.
Later I set up a table at a Sci-fi
Convention at Columbia University. There was Stu Schiff who had a table with
his Whispers and first editions he
put out of famous authors like Isaac Asimov and Stephen King. He came
over and we got to know each other and he bought a small painting. Later at the
Lunicon Sci-fi publishing convention in NYC I exhibited my “Visionary Foal” and
won the Grand Prize for Fantasy Art. There Stu introduced me to David Hartwell
and he gave me the commission for Pamela Sargent’s Watch Star.
The jungle drums were tapping out
that there’s an interesting new illustrator out there. So everywhere I went
they came out to view my portfolio and treated me with the utmost respect.
In other words, one cannot simply
sit in your office and send out emails. There is magic in meeting people face
to face. There is magnetism in persona contact.
I do not have time to do that for
BBB. I have made a bit of effort to see what could be done immediately with
BBB, but now it is what I already said was a long slog. I no longer attend
conventions, and even if I did, they prefer the “new young talent.”
So, we will just keep going until
“something comes along…”