1. Tediously faulty data systems, or 'meta data'
2. People who don't think to question this faulty data
That's why we had an article in The Bookseller quoting Axel Scheffler feeling undervalued for his work, right above a listing where he's not mentioned with the picture book he illustrated (Superworm). It wasn't deliberate, someone just didn't put two-and-two together:
It happened again today: the Red House Children's Book Awards were announced and when I clicked over to their award page of their website, only the writers of the books were listed. Which is odd, because you can see a little picture of illustrator Oliver Jeffers on their home page. So they were obviously thinking about him, they just forgot to put his name into the listing.
Now anyone who looks at Drew and Oliver's book sees it's highly dependent on illustrations and Oliver's hand-drawn lettering. And you may think, does this even matter? Everyone knows Oliver illustrated that book. ...Well, yes, it does. That press release will have gone out to the media and there's a good chance many of them will plug the data into their articles without even checking to see the illustrator's been left out. Illustrators rely heavily on brand identity for ongoing sales, and this doesn't help.
I (rather nervously) brought it up with the award's hosts, The Book People, on Twitter, and they're like most of us, they're people who love books and want to get things right, they're just rushing a bit and don't have the latest software.
It wasn't just illustrators; even a co-writer (Amanda Swift) got left out because they couldn't fit two names on the date entry line.
But the whole point of these awards is publicity and raising the profile of children's books, so it would make sense for awards people to stop and think how they're presenting this information ('after careful consideration') to the public. I'm sure the judges put a lot of thought into the selection, and the website people are separate from the judging process, but it makes the awards look slapdash, like the people involved haven't actually sat down and looked at the physical books, to notice that they're illustrated. I'm sure this isn't true, but it's not a clever way to present the public face of the award.
I was happy to see a few hours later that the website had already been updated to include Oliver's name. Hurrah! So it IS possible, it's not too much of a programming nightmare. But there are several other illustrators who need added - Tony Ross (illustrator of Demon Dentist), Thomas Flintham (Baby Aliens Got my Teacher), and Bruce Ingman (Let Loose the Leopard). And throughout the website, there are lots of other illustrators left unlisted (for example, David Tazzyman and Sarah Horne in their Pick of the Year list). Here's the fixed entry:
Kudos to the rep at The Book People for replying so quickly and starting to get on the case! I realise they honestly do mean well.
But it's a call for people to think when they get book data. I'm hoping very much we can fix some of the most cumbersome systems (Nielsen - and Biblio/Virtusales, which I only just heard about) and encourage publishers enter all the right information. (Good ol' Nosy Crow...)
But until then, publishing world and media, if you love book illustration, please stand by us and fix this faulty data manually.
Keep an eye on the hash tag and add your comments: #PicturesMeanBusiness
. . .
NOOOOOOOO!!!! Just as a saved this blog post, I saw a tweet from wonderful writer Caryl Hart. And I love The Reading Agency, they hosted me as last year's Summer Reading Challenge illustrator, but guess what, they've forgotten to credit a lot of illustrators on their book list. And again, it's most likely a data problem. And people not paying attention. ARGHHHHHHH. Please, someone just make it stop...!
(See the picture book list here.)