So why do you the artist need a publisher? The most important answer to this question is, you are the talent, let someone else sell that talent! With the acquisition of an publisher all the leg work and time consumed trying to sell your art is now the responsibility of the publisher. Your primary concern as a professional artist is to produce quality artwork, not to try and flog your wares to the market place. So now that you have decided that you need a publisher how do you get one? What is a publisher looking for? What does a publisher expect from you? How do I know that the publisher is giving me a good deal? The following is designed to give you answers to these burning questions and help give you direction in the pursuit of a publisher.
Publishers are an active member in the art world. They are always on the move looking for new talent and the next "big thing" in the industry. I can not think of being at any art show, large or small and not being approached by several publishers and agents. By you becoming active in the art world and participating in art shows you will drastically increase your exposure to publishers. If a publisher starts to see you at several shows they now see a commitment by you to your profession and your work. A publisher is investing in you as much as they are in your work. Always present yourself in the highest quality that you possible can, never show up to a show in your painting smock with bed head and bad breath. Being eccentric once you are a world renowned artist is an asset, being unkempt and unprofessional while undiscovered is the kiss of death. Think like a publisher.
Would you invest your funds in someone who does not present themselves to the public in a professional and interesting manner? Of course you wold not, so why would you expect a publisher to. There are several different shows and venues that you can participant in that are sure to have publishers roaming at them. Every city has a art festival yearly. Some are at the local city hall and others are at librarys and civic centers. For example in my local area is the Toronto Outdoor Art show and the One of a Kind show. Both of these shows are full of local and international publisher scouting them. Other shows to consider are licensing shows and conferences. These are not only good for attracting publishers, but they are also great for picking up commercial licensing that will put your artwork out on mass and maybe attract a publisher. One of the best shows for licensing and coincidentally the show that I met my publisher is the Licensing 2010 show in New York, NY.
Be prepared for a publishers interest in you. Always have a CD of your current work and an up to date biography on hand that can be easily handed to a publisher. Once again having a package ready on the spot will show the publisher that you come prepared and are willing to go that extra mile. Be sure to engage in the conversation with the publisher and do not let them carry the conversation. One again, publishers want to see that you are able to interact with the public and present yourself in a favorable light. Be prepared to sell yourself and not just your work, remember you and your work are a package deal.
Another direct avenue to a publisher is through national portfolios such as Ducks Unlimited, Federal Duck Stamps and State or Provincial stamp competitions. Publishers are always paying close attention to the winners of these contests and judged art competitions. Winning the federal duck stamp is a sure fire way to draw the attention of a publisher. The national exposure that these contest provide should be looked at as free advertising for you and your work. You want a publisher to see your work in a winning light giving your name worth. Winning a major competition gives the publisher instant value to your name and he or she will be more apt to invest in you as part of their stable.
Finally the most direct way is to send your work to the publisher directly. Before you do make sure you have a strong introduction letter written. Introduce yourself in a confident manner without being cocky. Show confidence without arrogance. Start with your background, what you have accomplished in the past and what you are working towards in the future. Make it know to the publisher that you are a team player and looking to become part of the company "stable" of artist's. Publishers are not interested in glory hounds so make sure the structure of your letter of introduction is humble and modest. Always include a bibliography of all the publications you are printed in and a time line of credentials and awards you have won or placed highly in. Also include your work in both paper and digital form.
Have a few of your strongest works on a well designed sell sheet that should be placed on the top of your package so it is the first thing the publisher will see. On a CD include several (10-15) of your images in a high resolution JPEG format for the publisher to review. By having your strongest images on the front sheet you will peek the interest of the publisher and they will want to see more. A well designed sell sheet will encourage the publisher to read on and view your work on the CD. DO NOT HAVE WEAK IMAGES ON THIS CD JUST TO FILL SPACE. If you do not have 10-15 strong images I suggest that you spend more time building your body of work before you approach a publisher. A publisher wants several printable, marketable images available before they will even consider publishing you. It is better to spend some time and be prepared, you only get one shot at a first impression! Remember what I said earlier, you and your work are a package deal.
Once you do attract a publisher be prepared and know what to expect as compensation for the right to publish your work. A legitimate publisher will offer you anywhere from 15-20% of the whole sale of the limited edition. They will also offer the Artist's Proofs from the limited edition, this usually being 10% of the run. So, if you print a limited edition of 500, 50 Artist's Proofs will be yours free and clear, this is standard and you should be expecting this. Any other licensing is usually split as 35-50% in your favor. Beware of the small time publisher that is only looking to take your work and flog it to the lowest bidder. A legitimate publisher will want a written contract for every print published that will clearly spell out the terms of the production run. Make sure you have this signed contract in hand before your allow reproduction of your work.