Category Archives: publishing

News and insights into the mysterious book industry. Because it’s so much fun to say, “I work in publishing”!

ECC Event Invite: Hunger Pub Games!

Calling all young publishing professionals (sorry, Early Career Committee events are for employees of CBC member houses only) –

Join us for the 1st Annual Hunger Pub Games!  See below for the event invite I created… and RSVP to see in person all the challenges that await. It’s going to be a ton of fighting- I mean, fun!

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The Blog Is BACK!!!

It’s finally time to resurrect my blog from its long hiatus!  I’ve actually missed being on Walking In Public… digging up blog content has always kept me engaged with the publishing/art/design industries, and it motivates me to write and draw regularly.  So, I’ll be back on the blog for a long while, with all-new features and updates on my journey to success in the children’s book world!

What have you missed while I’ve been away from the blog? Here are the best things that happened, circa 2011:

Annie’s Top 5 2011 Professional Developments

1. Illustrated and designed the Little Farmer app.

You may remember that I began a project working on a toddler game app, called Little Farmer, back in May.  Well, after months of illustrating, designing and developing, we released it for sale in the iTunes store in October!  It has been a really wonderful experience working with a talented developer, Anita Hirth, to create artwork that children can interact with, right there on any iPhone.  There’s much more to say about the process of creating an app, and my future in the digital world… but those are subjects for bigger posts!

In the meantime, purchase the app here, or watch the video trailer, above!

2. Joined the Children’s Book Council’s Early Career Committee.

I’ve been attending events for young adults in the publishing industry for awhile, so it was exciting to be asked to represent Penguin Young Readers (and designers everywhere) on the Children’s Book Council’s Early Career Committee.  This organization creates opportunities for those in the first 5 years of the children’s book industry to network, learn, and become more involved in their fields… so their mission is right up my alley!  Since becoming a part of the team this summer, I’ve had a TON of fun making great friends with 20-somethings in different houses, through planning creative programming.  I’m also having a blast designing fliers, making good use of my design time and talents.

If you haven’t already, make sure to catch up on the CBC and ECC’s fabulous social media enterprises – Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

3. Made friends with WordPress.org.

One of the biggest hurdles in creating marketing materials for Little Farmer was: what to do about the website?  A website is obviously essential for promoting any business or product, but my knowledge of web design is spotty at best.  I’ve taken a class on Flash, but I gotta admit, coding scares the bejeezus out of me. So I turned to the platform I knew best – WordPress, home of this very blog!  WordPress.org is actually slightly different from its blogging sister WordPress.com. In a day or two, you can create practically any site imaginable, using existing templates, posts and pages, and update new content anytime – hardly any coding required.  The process is worth a separate future post, but here are the first two sites I made:

www.smartcookiestudios.com (using Suffusion theme)
www.anniebethericsson.com (using Blue Bubble theme)

4. Designed a few picture books.

What was I up to at my real job? Designing wonderful titles with Putnam and Nancy Paulsen Books!  In addition to my regularly scheduled board books, anniversary editions and novel interiors, I had the opportunity to have my own picture book assignments.  My first book, Half-Pint Pete the Pirate, was quickly followed by Dave Horowitz‘s hilarious, “spaghetti-western-style” Chico The Brave.  I also was honored to redesign Jan Brett‘s Beauty and the Beast reissue, and also redesign the jackets of a few international imports.  My favorite? The Aussie “new classic”, Maudie And Bear.

5. Freelanced Projects.  

Lastly, I’m happy to report that in addition to my busy schedule and pet app project, I also picked up a few freelance gigs.  Chief among them was an exhibition catalog for the Simms Taback retrospective at the Museum of Ventura County.

I’ll never forget that I was able to get to know Simms and work with him on this 16-page booklet of his work, in the few last months before his death this December.  He was a truly exceptional man with a kind heart, a keen eye for design, and an inspirational wealth of artistic creativity.  It was always wonderful to speak with him, and I loved that he was so involved with every aspect of his craft.  It does give me comfort, though, that before he passed, he saw the publication of his final book, Postcards from Camp, the opening of the exhibit, and travelled with friends and family.  He will be sorely missed!

Read more about Simms’ amazing life and work here.

. . .

And now, looking forward to 2012… keep reading here for more posts, new content, and as always, a love of illustration, books and design all around! 

SCBWI 2011, Part II: Beyond Picture Books, to New Media!

(Oh hey, check out this new Oliver Jeffers’ Heart And The Bottle app!)

Everyone – and I mean, EVERYONE (that’s right, NPR) – is talking about e-books and new media.  While adult e-readers are already a major part of consumer culture, childrens’ apps and e-books are still in their infancy (pun intended).  People seem to have a special concern and defensiveness reserved for the future of kids’ books – after all, who wants their kids’ future reduced to bedtime stories curled up with an IPad?

Most industry professionals and consumers alike agree that traditional children’s books aren’t going anywhere.  For one, buying a two-year-old a Color Nook is a lot less cost-efficient than a $4.99 board book, if all the toddler’s going to do is chew on the corners.  For another, people like the visceral experience of buying a hardcover book and turning its pages, reading aloud themselves instead of pressing a button.

Instead, we’re heading towards more and more options for kids books, and while we adults will have to nervously or excitedly adapt, kids will grow up expecting content on myriad forms of media.

So I commend SCBWI’s Illustrators’ Intensive for making the focus of their annual NYC event “Beyond Books: Picture Books and the New Media“.  Hey, if we don’t know about it, let’s invite some panelists to tell us about it!

As excited as I was about hearing the “Online Presence: A Panel Review of Websites, Blogs and Social Media”, it wasn’t my focus of the day.  Mostly, I was there to hear about the latest digital development shrouded in mystery: apps.  It’s something we all know is the future (SO much cooler than e-books), but we don’t REALLY know how they’re created.  First off, we sat in on the “Development of Apps from Classics” discussion, with panelists Virginia Duncan of Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins) and Colin Hosten of Hyperion/Disney Digital Books.

Ms. Duncan explained the making of Greenwillow’s first app, Freight Train by Donald Crews.  With bold shapes and different views from its companion book, Inside Freight Train, this was a perfect way to get an introduction to all that can be done with an app. Take a simple story, then add movement, games, songs… the sky’s the limit!  Check out storyboards and other making-of tidbits from Freight Train here.

Now, say what you want about Disney’s creepy corporate hold on America, but there’s no denying that they’re best suited for transitioning to new media.  Colin set the tone for the whole Intensive by explaining Disney’s philosophy like this: “It’s not about format, it’s about content.” Whether it’s a book, movie, TV show, game, or app, it’s all telling stories. Not so scary, after all, right? And those that can seamlessly translate their work to many different mediums are those that will survive the shift in technology.

As Kristen McLean said in PW the other day, “kids are omnivorous consumers of media”.  They’re not picking apps over books, they’re doing both – and why shouldn’t we?

The Intensive-closing “Practical Application Panel”, with Lisa Holton of Fourth Story Media and Rick Richter of Ruckus Media, summed it up pretty nicely with some fantastic content they’re creating, that is pushing the boundries of physical books and beyond. The 39 Clues was ground-breaking, for example, but my new favorite is The Amanda Project, a story about an enigmatic girl who goes missing from her new school, leaving 3 “guides” behind to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

On The Amanda Project‘s collaborative website, teens (um, girls) create their own character within the series’ world, discuss clues and theories among themselves, and read weekly short stories. The web stories incorporate readers’ thoughts and original plot twists, so every person on the site has a chance to be published as a part of Amanda’s life. They can even share their own writing and artwork in an online Zine… awesome!

Just as you were wondering what’s the point of it all, at the center of The Amanda Project is a book series – written by different YA authors, and published after all the buzz was created online.  It translates to IPad and IPhone apps, e-books, anything digital… but it all comes back to the original books.  Genius.

Now let’s see a picture book do the same thing!

SCBWI 2011: Stand-Out Illustrators!

This past weekend was the annual SCBWI Winter Conference, a 3-day event, packed with speakers, panels and workshops, that brings authors and illustrators to Midtown from across the country.  I’ve always wanted to go, and finally had the chance to attend the Illustrators’ Intensive by begging offering to help out a bit.

Friday was all about children’s books and new media (more on that later), but one of the most fun perks was getting to see the showcase of illustrators that was set up for judging and industry viewing.  As I tried to have fun and not to get overwhelmed by the VIP cocktails and networking, I managed to grab a few cards of my favorites.

I was pleased, but not surprised, that Leeza Hernandez (above) won the Grand Prize at the showcase. She’s super talented, and has a friendly, approachable personality to boot. But I’ve been following her work for some time, so while she deserves much congratulations, she doesn’t count on my list of “new discoveries” . . .

1. Andrea Offermann /  It was so lovely to meet German illustrator Andrea Offermann, whose rich, detailed porfolio is breathtaking.  Her work is perfect for older, middle-grade readers – book covers, black and white interiors, graphic novels.  I won’t be surprised to see her art all over the shelves!

2. You Byun / Aww, how sweet are those characters’ faces?  And look at the lush range of texture!  And warmth of light!  When it comes to creating worlds, You Byun has it down.  And I’m seriously gushing over every single one.

3. Greg Pizzoli / Okay, this guy’s silkscreen prints are just too freaking cool. I’ve got major jealousy looking at his 32-page promotional zine, C’mon, Go!, and the hand-bound editions of his books are fine art, but could so easily be commercially reproduced.  His website is most effective too, with a fun, in-depth look at his process.

4. R.S. Posnak / We designers made a beeline for R.S.’s Oliver Jeffers-esque line work and letterpress business cards (we’re too predictable).  Turns out, she’s also a designer, and has an online portfolio with a healthy mix of sleek commerical projects (for adults) and vintage curios.  Hello, animal dioramas!

5. Brian Gerrity / On the other end of the spectrum, Brian Gerrity’s work is made for kids.  Fun, bubbly characters, with a smooth digital look, are perfect for little ones.  And what a whimsical sense of pattern… you can look back at the picture again and again, and still find something new.

Matched: Will Leave You “Breathless”

When considering the perks of working in publishing, I have only two words: free books.  Between galleys and take shelves, there’s always something to bring home. But the best part is when Penguin decides to give away a free, hot-off-the-presses title… delivered right to your desk!

I’d heard about the famous “Penguin 5”, a selection of new YA titles whose advance copies were packaged and sent to industry folks, setting them all abuzz with excitement (did I mention the power of free books?).  I’d be surprised if the above trailer and website didn’t send every teen reader of paranormal/romance/horror/dystopia/fantasy running “breathless” to the nearest bookstore.  But the book I was excited to read myself was Matched… and guess what pretty, pretty hardcover showed up on my desk in honor of its release yesterday?

I think I can accurately describe Matched as The Giver for the teen girls of 2010. Heroine Cassia Reyes is a 17-year-old member of The Society, the universal government that dictates everything from your clothes and your food, to the art you consume, your job and – of course – your mate.  Cassia receives her optimum match, and in a stroke of luck, it’s her best friend and resident blond hottie, Xander.  But in an unlucky “error”, another face comes up on her match-card as well: outsider Ky.  Ooooh snap!

Who is her true “match”?  Will knowledge lead her to buck “The Society” and realize it isn’t all that perfect?  Though the answers seem obvious, I’m a third of the way through… and I’m still enthralled.  Definitely a great YA read!

Check out the super-mysterious website for Matched, as well as a video of the author, below.

Penguin 75: An AIGANY Panel

As I’ve mentioned before, this year is a great time to join the Penguin team – it’s the 75th anniversary of the classic paperback publisher.  Since (of course!) I feel that Penguin’s greatest strength is its design and branding philosophy, I wasn’t going to miss the chance to hear about it from some of the best creative brains in the company at last Thursday’s AIGA panel.

First of all, can I just say that AIGA kicked off the event with some hilarious and heavily-accented (do those two things go together?) moderators!  Board member Matteo Bologna, founder and president of Mucca Design Corporation, introduced Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich, an amazing book designer and creative director in his own right. You may know him as the creator of the children’s book Bembo’s Zoo (don’t miss the amazing online version!), which always reminds me of the best Type II project anyone could produce. I mean, it’s the same concept as your standard “play with letterforms” exercise, but blows every student out of the water.

Anyway, Bologna and de Cumptich got the crowd warmed up for what would continue to be a very witty discussion on the process of book cover design.

The featured guest of the evening was Paul Buckley, Executive VP and Creative Director of Penguin, not to mention editor of the featured Penguin 75 book.  Aside from jokes about his former ’90s mullet and current “Penguin-esque” bald look, Buckley had some seriously enlightening things to say about the evolution of covers.  Since Buckley was/is an illustrator as well (that’s his first love and original life plan), he’s passionate about integrating art and design, and pushing the limits of how the two can transform the surface of a book.  Although he oversees hundreds of titles per year, you can still see his mark on the direction of new and old classics, such as the mind-blowingly AWESOME Penguin Ink series featuring tattoo artists.

Bridget Jones’ Diary, illustrated by Tara McPherson

Moon Palace, illustrated by Grez at Kings Avenue Tattoo

Two of Paul’s designers also took the stage: Gregg Kulick, whose punk-rock meets kitsch sensibility is just as cool on book covers as it is on show posters, and Jim Tierney, whom you may recognize from my last post (um, what a coincidence! We’ve met! We started Penguin the same day! I really did not put any of it together until I got to this event!).  One of the most surprising things about their talks is that they showed a lot of their past work – what they did as a student, where they went after graduating, that sort of thing.  It’s both encouraging to see one’s style evolves after graduation, and intimidating that they were just as talented then.  I’m at home redo-ing my senior projects, but these dudes? Publication-ready from the start.

I spent most of the evening astounded by how many completely different versions of adult covers get made before the final is approved.  Penguin 75 showcases these shelved variations, with added commentary from the designers and authors involved. Interestingly, some of the essays are brutally honest, such as (the guru of Minnesota Lutherans) Garrison Keillor’s scathing review of his cover, Love Me.

So it was only appropriate that they brought up an author, A.M. Homes, to comment, improv-style, on the unseen covers of her novel, This Book Will Save Your Life.  I give her major props for going up in front of an auditorium of judgy discerning designers to talk about the subject they know most.  And she really held her own, keeping it light, funny and honest, and still sounding intelligent.  The panel added their “insider’s view” of the evolution of her cover, and while any number of the versions could have worked well, I think they ended up with a great result.

This Book Will Save Your Life, hardcover and paperback covers

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Penguin 75 soon… can’t wait to hear what more authors have to say about their classics!

Video Half-Day Friday: Happy 75th Penguin! + Austen-Mania

Happy Birthday, Penguin! Today, the revolutionary publisher of paperbacks new and old (also known to me as “work”), turns 75.  I couldn’t be prouder to be at a company with such a historically strong emphasis on design.  And what better way to celebrate than with this adorably informative documentary?

Video – Penguin Books 75th Anniversary – Penguin Group (USA)

(Can’t embed this for the life of me… so you’ll just have to clicky click!)

Now, on to some video fun, posted by Laura from Combreviations over at 100 Scope Notes:

… SO funny!!  I’m not a huge Austen fan, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Emma, my soul-sister in misguided matchmaking.  I’m always amazed at the many ways that Austen can be adapted, on- and off-screen, so I have probably seen more spin-off movies than read original books.

Penguin, as a publisher of classics, has done an amazing job of reworking old material for a modern audience, so it makes sense that Austen is perfect for them.  They’ve even expanded into “Austen-Mania” with this page on their website, so that fans can delve into the world of romance, long after they’ve read the books.

To show just how innovative Penguin has been with this one author, here are a few examples any Austen fan should check out:

1. I’ve been drooling over this Hardback Classics cover of Emma for months!  It epitomizes that delicious feeling of holding a really beautiful book in your hands. Make sure to take a look at the books by other authors as well.

2.  Penguin UK created a fun and simple project called My Penguin.  For just a few dollars, aspiring designers can pick up their blank copy of Emma (or another classic), and create their own book cover.  While submissions are closed, it’s really interesting to see the gallery of work that came out of it from bands, artists, and anyone else who wanted to contribute.

3.  Still not satisfied creating your own Georgian-Regency world?  The book, Lost In Austen (wasn’t this also a movie?), is a choose-your-own-adventure style tale through all six books.

3.  Ah, Penguin UK, why are you so pretty?  The evolution of Pride and Prejudice, here, here and here.  I even found an article from 2006 where the Brits turned Austen into chick lit, with Colin Firth and all.  Now that’s a little ridiculous…

4.  Want to read all the novels at once, just like that hot dude in The Jane Austen Book Club? Of course, Penguin Classics has a complete set.

Now, it’s a beautiful day, time to get to the park and celebrate Penguin by reading my book!