The Postcard Post welcomes author/illustrator Carolyn Dee Flores. Carolyn has tips for everyone— illustrators trying to get noticed to those with representation and published work.
Carolyn Dee Flores is the author/illustrator of 14 books for children, including the picture book THE AMAZING WATERCOLOR FISH. She is the host of the Children’s YouTube Channel: #HowToMakeAPictureBookForKidz (see link below). Carolyn worked as a computer analyst before becoming a professional rock musician and composer. She wrote soundtracks for independent film, T.V., and commercials – and then, became a children’s illustrator. She is the recipient of The Skipping Stones 2014 Award for Excellence in Multicultural Literature, and a National Picture Book Champion, November 9, 2014. She was the Inaugural Illustrator for the WeNeedDiverseBooks Mentorship program. Carolyn is currently working on a Sci-Fi Middle Grade novel about dinosaurs and ancient aliens. Her latest book (author/contributor) is THANKU: POEMS OF GRATITUDE to be released September 3, 2019. Carolyn will also be co-hosting a Highlights Workshop with Meg Medina September 22 – 25, 2019 (get the link below!). And… Carolyn plays the bass.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I create images for all of my postcards featuring characters from the books I happen to be working on at the time.
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 use the front of the postcard – for everything. But… I keep the text color light, and unobtrusive. So, if someone wants to contact me, or get more information about my work, the text is there, but it doesn’t overwhelm the artwork – ever. I include three pieces of text information on my cards.
a.) name: Carolyn Dee Flores
b.) website: http://www.carolynflores.com
c.) email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if someone gets your postcard and is interested in you, the very first thing they are going to do – is go to your website. Every single time. Have your website up-to-date and your portfolio up-to-date and everything else, too. Because IT MATTERS.*
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Absolutely! Actually, the last illustration I created for a postcard, ended up turning into the cover for my latest book – THE AMAZING WATERCOLOR FISH – not the other way around! I had the postcard on my desk and started experimenting. I scribbled “The Amazing Watercolor Fish” in marker across the middle, and then, ripped the bottom off the postcard in a wavy tear – and that image became the cover of my book!
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I love the idea of sending out a series of postcards! But, I think it depends upon the project. If you’re telling a story that opens up in that way – over time – great! Or… if there is some sort of artistic point to your series – that’s great, too! But… unless you have a compelling artistic reason behind it, you might just be confusing people.*
*Good point. Always think it through.
How often do you send out postcards? Once a year. I used to send out twice a year.
Who do you target with your mailings?
I used to send my postcards to publishers and agents. (That is how I got all of my first book deals.)* Now, I have a representative. So, I don’t do that anymore. Now, most of my postcards are handed out, in person, to librarians and people at events. Although, I do send out a set of postcards once a year to people in the industry I work with.
*A postcard success story!
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
By hand. I still have a hand-written list and I still hand-write all of the addresses on the envelopes.
Do you have any tips on the production process?
Wow! Such a big subject! (I actually taught a class in scanning once.) Every part of the production process is important! Here are some tips:
Scan at 300dpi. If your Printer allows it, submit images as TIF files. If not, use JPG.
Learn as much as you can about ICC profiles and CMYK. YOU need to be responsible for the color in your artwork. Print out your postcard on paper BEFORE you send it out. Set your printer to default. If it looks good this way, you should be fine.
Design to the size of your postcard. Do not take an illustration designed for something else and try to squeeze it onto your card. It won’t have the same effect.
Double check your work before you upload it.
Think about the size of your card. Big sizes look great, but are hard to carry at conferences, book events, and school visits.
Order with plenty of time for shipping. This also costs less. Quantity over quality is best here – as far as printing goes. You want decent printing, of course, but wait for a sale – and get as many as you can.
Just make sure your image is worthy! A good image is not about the printer – it is about the artist!
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
Carolyn has some more to share about postcards (for published and unpublished illustrators)!
Give out postcards that you would be THRILLED to get! If your postcard thrills you, it will thrill others too!
Consider investing in nice envelopes, maybe translucent, when you are mailing out to publishers and agents.
Insert a postcard in every book you sign.
Have a set of postcards ready to stack at SCBWI meetings, or at signing tables when you are signing your books at events.
Use your postcard as your business card.
Hand out cards to special students at school visits, and sign them.
Don’t be surprised if little, little kids start to eat them. (You might want to hold off on giving postcards to the under-five-year-old set.)
Postcards can get you noticed by agents, editors, and even publishers – but, postcards can also get you school visits, speaking engagements, and book events. Always have your postcards handy!
Take chances! Take risks! Push the envelope! This is your chance to show off and have your postcard represent you – your art, your thoughts! The greatest thing you can possibly offer a publisher is a unique point of view! So, run with it!!
Postcards have made a huge difference in my career. I hope you have great success with yours!
Thanks so much for your very all these helpful tips, for sharing your thoughts, and your beautiful illustrations, Carolyn. I love your enthusiasm for postcards!
As promised, links!
Highlights Workshop with Carolyn and Meg Medina, Sept. 22 – 25, 2019: https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/programs/1054/nurturing-your-artistic-voice-a-guide-for-kidlit-rebels-and-risk-takers-2019/
Check out the links below to see more of Carolyn’s work:
Children’s YouTube Channel: #HowToMakeAPictureBookForKidz: http://www.carolynflores.com/youtubechannel.html
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 searching for The Postcard Post on this blog. See you next month.
I’ve followed Carolyn for several years. Thank you both for this inspiring interview. Congrats Carolyn on your successes. You are a true renaissance woman!