April 30th, 2015

writers and illustrators: what we REALLY do all day

In discussions about illustrator earnings, I've realised a lot of people have no idea what we actually do for a living. They think we create a book, then have a rest while we earn lots of money from the book.

From Twitter

From my blog

To be fair, I had no idea about what I'd be doing when I went into this job, either! So I thought I'd make a list of some of the things I do that aren't actually sitting at my desk, drawing a book. I wish I'd known some of these things earlier, I might have prepared better!

I have between two and three books published each year. But making a book isn't enough to make a living at it. If no one knows about my books, they won't sell and my publishers won't want any more books. I have to make my books stand out from all the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of books being published. This kind of work and admin probably takes at least 70% of my time. So what REALLY goes into this writing-illustrating job?

* Public speaking: Wow. I had NO IDEA how much time I'd be standing on stages, putting on actual shows to the public. I had a vague idea I might be doing the occasional story time reading, and maybe a couple times a year, talking to a group of illustrators about materials and drawing techniques. But it's been a lot more than that. When you're asked to go on stage and 'talk about your book' for an hour to a bunch of five-year-olds, they don't really mean just talk about your book. 200 fidgety kids won't happily sit for an hour in a room listening to an adult lecture them; I had to learn to make it interactive and put a lot of variety into it. My events occur in fits and starts (I might do three days of events and none the next week), but if you evened them out over a year, I probably do two hour-long events a week. I love doing events and meeting people, but I find the whole next day I'm often exhausted; I'm not a natural extrovert but I've learned how to adapt.

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