I first saw Eliza Wheeler‘s work when her portfolio was selected for honors by SCBWI. I’ve since had the pleasure of working with her on a webinar for SCBWI France. So I can say from firsthand experince that her artwork is exquisite and she’s a great presenter! Sub It Club is thrilled she’s stopped by to share her postcards and some tips.
Eliza Wheeler is the author-illustrator of MISS MAPLE’S SEEDS (Penguin), which débuted on the New York Times bestseller list. She is also the illustrator of DOLL BONES (Simon & Schuster), the Newbery Honor winning novel by Holly Black, and Mara Rockliff’s picture book THE GRUDGE KEEPER (Peachtree). Eliza is the recipient of numerous Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators awards, including the Grand Prize Award for best portfolio at the 2011 SCBWI National Conference. Eliza is a northern Wisconsin native, and currently lives with her husband in Los Angeles, California.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I try to choose an image that; a. tells a story all on its own, b. has emotional pull, and c. that feels like a great overall representation of my voice. For this postcard, I decided to choose two: one to represent my darker, more mature work, and the other to represent picture-book work. This particular postcard’s purpose was to set out at an SCBWI conference, so I decided to use the whole front and back (rather than leaving room for mailing addresses).
Do you prefer text on the front of the postcard with the image or do you prefer all text on the back of the postcard?
I once heard an art director complain that if they pin up a postcard, it’s a bother to take it down to look for a name/site on the back. Since then I’ve always put my name and URL on the front.
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Not usually. Though, if I have an idea for a stand-alone piece that I end up liking, I often choose that one for a promo.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I’ve only ever done stand-alone pieces.
How often do you send out postcards?
Currently only about once a year because I have such a packed schedule for the next year.* If I was less booked I would be shooting for 3-4 times a year.
*Yay! Here’s to packed schedules!
Who do you target with your mailings?
Mostly editors and art directors. I’ve also created promo cards for my books, and in that case I also send them to people I know who might buy the book, as well as indie bookstores.*
*More proof of the versatility of postcards.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I try to keep an on-going list, and update it using the SCBWI Market Survey that comes out yearly. My agency (Andrea Brown Lit Agency) also has done promotional mailings that specifically target about 200 publishing pros, so it’s nice to have their expertise in this area.
Do you have any tips on the production process?
I’m lucky in that I’m coming from a graphic design background, so I’m very comfortable using Adobe InDesign, and have a trained eye for using type. For someone without a design background, I would suggest using minimal and classic fonts over something that’s too stylized. Amateur design-work can be a turn-off, so let the art speak for itself.*
*Great advice: keep it simple!
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I’ve used online and local printers, and so far I’ve preferred the quality of the local L.A. printers to, say, Overnight Prints.com or Vistaprint.com, except that the price is usually lower online. The two printers I’ve liked in L.A. are Copyland (www.onedaycopy.com), and West Hollywood Printing & Copy.*
*A Postcard Loca-vore, so to speak!
Thanks so much for sharing your artwork and tips, Eliza.
Find out more about Eliza Wheeler at the links below.
If you’re joining us for the first time at the Monthly Postcard Post, you can catch up with a general article on postcard mailings for illustrators and previous featured illustrators in the archive (there’s a tab above too). See you next month.