Published Fall '07 in SCBWI Metro newsletter "Illustrators'
And on the lighter side: WAR STORIES!
Maybe it's because I'm planning my ‘baby girl's' wedding this year, but the thought of ‘war stories', near disasters, unplanned happenings, surprises, survivals and ‘Plan B's' appeal to me for this issue! It can be entertaining and educational, not to mention reassuring, to hear of others' trials. Our market being what it is these days, we can use some reassurance, so I thought I'd share some of my personal war stories and lessons learned.
One of the worse things that can happen to an agent – and her artists – is to have an artist fail to complete an assignment on time and in the expected professional style. When one artist in an agency behaves badly, it reflects poorly on all the others. If clients doubt the agent, they will doubt the artists! Years ago a talented new artist, coming with a published trade book under his belt, was lucky enough to get TWO trade book assignments rather quickly. We were thrilled! But trouble started early as both sketch dates were missed and delayed; deadlines moved several times. Short story, after lots of calls, chats, sleepless nights, he never completed EITHER of the books. As if that weren't bad enough, he'd also spent the advances and ‘couldn't afford' to repay them. Kiss of death in any industry! FIRED of course. I repaid both publishers out of my own pocket with hopes of keeping them as clients, which was successful. There is NO excuse for this behavior from a living artist - and he was lucky to still be living at this point! There is an obvious lesson for all artists in this story about the meaning of professionalism. Funny (sad?) side-story…. Two years later he had the gall to call and ask me if I'd consider taking him back!!! (No mention of my lost $ either!)
Life does happen though and when it does, communicating with clients in a timely and respectful manner is the key. Recently another rep's artist, overwhelmed by too many deadlines mounting up, couldn't make an educational job deadline. NOT GOOD. This can happen when an artist accepts too many assignments with too tight a work schedule, and then finish dead lines change and get jammed up.