The Postcard Post: Dana Carey

Today I am thrilled beyond thrilled to have Sub It Club’s Partner in Submission and Postcard Post creator Dana Carey here on The Postcard Post! I’m so glad that Dana has finally had the time to be the interviewee. I have been wanting her to do it for ages! You’ve probably noticed Dana’s fabulous illustrations that we use in various places as Sub It Club’s headers and logos. Today Dana is not only sharing her thoughts on postcards, you get to see some of her adorable picture book illustrations as well. Hooray!

Dana Carey is an author/illustrator. She earned a degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design and later, she got a teaching certificate. Now she teaches English to adults and university students. Between classes, Dana dedicates as much time as possible to writing and illustrating picture books. She interviews illustrators for The Postcard Post for Sub It Club.* Based on a picture book dummy submission, she was accepted by the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature for attendance at the One-on-One-Plus conference in 2015. Dana is Assistant Regional Advisor of SCBWI France and International Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI.**
*And she does a great job of it!
** Did you guys realize how awesome she is?!

How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?

I work on dummy books for the picture books I write so I often use a full-color image from the story I’m currently working on. Otherwise, I use an image that I think will be eye-catching and has a narrative I can carry over to the postcard back with another image of the same character.

Template Petit format
Postcard front: spread from a dummy book.

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?

It depends. I’m not a purist when it comes to this. I think some images lend themselves well to text and others don’t. I started out as a graphic designer so I always enjoy working on the layout. I think there is a benefit to having text on the front (your name is readily associated with the work) but I’d like to think that anyone who likes your image will have the energy to flip the card over if need be.*
*If they don’t have enough energy for that I’d be wary!

Template Petit format
Postcard back: another page from the same dummy but a sketch this time.

Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?

Not really. I usually work on something and then decide it would be good for a postcard. But it could be a good exercise to start that way and see what I come up with.

Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?

I’ve never done a series of postcards. The closest I’ve come is making more than one postcard from the same dummy book or doing two postcards from a series of illustrations but without any intention of sending them out as a series. Again, could be a good exercise for me. Especially since it would make me plan postcard mailings in the long-term, over time.

Postcard front: new characters.

How often do you send out postcards?

Since I’m usually the person asking this questions, I’ve read all kinds of responses to it. I don’t think anyone on The Postcard Post sends out the way I do (probably for good reason!). In order to get started with postcard mailings, I made a deal with myself to send out five each week. I just couldn’t get my brain around sending out a hundred or so at a time. Also, I was overwhelmed with the idea of compiling a list of art directors and editors. I researched everyone on my list, one by one, to see if my work fit at all with their publishing company so five a week with the research needed, was doable for me. Now that I’ve got a running list, I sometimes send out more each time but I’m actually comfortable doing it on a regular basis instead of tons of cards three or four times a year. And this way I spread out the postage costs as I’m in France and at 1 euro 25 cents per postcard, that adds up! I guess we’ll have to look at this as one of my interesting quirks.*
*We each need to find a way to submit that works for us. Yours sounds great!

Postcard back: the story continues…

Who do you target with your mailings?
I’ve been sending my postcards to editors and art directors in children’s publishing including books and magazines. I have sent to a few agents here and there.*
*Adding in some magazines to your mailings is a great idea!

How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?

Expanding on my answer from above, I compile my list slowly. I use SCBWI’s THE BOOK which has some great directories. I double check all the names and addresses by googling so I don’t get too many postcards returned to me. I keep my eyes peeled on twitter for agents and various publishing people who put a call out for postcards. They do sometimes!* And I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t have an organized spreadsheet.** I’ve got a Pages doc that I add to as I go along; lots of cut and paste and notes to myself. It looks like a crazy quilt. Now that I’ve got a longer list, I’ve vowed to clean it up and organize it in some kind of spreadsheet. Wish me luck!
*Another great reason for illustrators to be on Twitter!
**Don’t be embarrassed Dana! A lot of people don’t even know how to use spreadsheets. Ahem.

Postcard front: the same character’s story continues.

Do you have any tips on the production process?

I use the guidelines provided by the printer (usually in the form of a PDF or Photoshop doc) and put my design together in Photoshop. I was a graphic designer and worked in production so I’m familiar with the rules. Pay special attention to bleed (the area outside the trim), safety and crop (trim) lines. Everything within the safety lines will not be trimmed so keep your type in there. And if your image goes from edge to edge (full bleed), make sure you have enough image to fill the bleed area. If the machine doesn’t trim exactly where it’s supposed to, you won’t end up with blank spots at the edges. As far as type goes, I say keep it simple. It’s tempting to use all those fonts but you want the illustration to be the star without any distracting elements getting in the spotlight.*
*Yes, you definitely want your illustrations to be the star. Love this advice!

Postcard back: the end!

Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I’ve used which is nice but pricey. I’m on the mailing list so I know about sales: they offer 20- 25% off or no shipping at times which is totally worth the hassle of extra email. I really like They are cheaper and they offer more sizes and are more flexible about quantities. The results so far have been good. They have sales and they don’t charge for delivery. (I use the French website but they are in other countries including the USA.)

Thank you so much Dana for sharing your wonderful insights and your adorable postcards! It is great to get to hear from The Postcard Post guru herself!

If you haven’t had enough Dana, there’s more Dana here:
Illustration portfolio:
twitter: @danaFR

If you’re joining us for the first time at The 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). And you can see recent posts by clicking on The Postcard Post under CATEGORIES on the right sidebar of this blog.
See you next month.



10 thoughts on “The Postcard Post: Dana Carey

Add yours

  1. Finally! The Interviewer is Interviewed. Delightful Illustrations and savvy commentary. But wait! Dana did not answer her own question about sending out a series. 🙂 Seriously, LOVE the idea of sending out five a week. That could move these piles of hundreds of postcards out of my studio instead of trying to have a completely perfect list of 200 names. Brilliant, Dana!


  2. LOVED seeing your postcards, Dana! I even recognized the story that a couple of them were from. 😉 Thank you for all you do for SCBWI…and we are so proud of you, Madam International Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI!


  3. I’ve been in touch with Dana for a few years now, on Facebook.We actually got acquainted when she moderated the online SCBWI European course for illustrators.
    Last week we met at the SCBWI conference in NYC and I got her postcard! (the first one above). Her illustrations are so lovely and humorous and I can also see her graphic design skills.
    Thank you, both for the interview!


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