Creative Director, August House Publishers
Could you tell us about your professional background?
I graduated with a degree in art (photography) from Tulane University and have been involved in art, design and publishing ever since - mostly freelance. Served as art director for trade and consumer magazines. I created a line of greeting cards and served as editorial cartoonist for a weekly paper for nine years. I have had several shows of large format digital art in the Atlanta area. Much of what I have done, in hindsight, led me right here.
How many titles do August House per year? Of these what percentage are picture books?
It varies. Last year we released 20 titles. Most are picture books.
Of the titles you have been personally responsible for, which one are you most proud of and why?
Each is a special child with its own special quirks and unique personality. The fun is in letting talented authors and artists stretch their abilities. Sometimes you fall in love with the ones that cause the most trouble...but I don't want to test that theory.
How many illustrators do you typically work with per year?
What can we expect from August House in 2007?
Bolder, edgier product. We are animating many of our stories as fast as we can. I have 2 in-house illustrator / animators. They are super- talented and we share lots of ideas and tips from which we all learn. It improves style and process. You can see many of them at www.storycove.com
Within the last couple of years, which children's book has been the most successful for August House and why?
Traditional stories in our backlist continue to do well, books like Stone Soup by Heather Forest, illustrated by Susan Gaber. Perhaps the; best surprise has been the success of Spicy Hot Colors and Cool Cats Counting by Sherry Shahan, illustrated by Paula Barragan of Ecuador. Her bright color palette complements the lively compositions. Simple yet exciting. We hope to do another soon.
How much influence do the Sales / Marketing depts have over your work?
A lot. Hey we're in this to SELL books. If they don't sell, no one sees them and we don't get to the next round. On the other hand, good art wins out... and so creative influences sales and marketing as well. It is a team effort. Creative also wins at August House because we are on the front line of technology and animate many of our illustrated stories for digital replay.
Tell us a little about a recent project you have worked on, the stages involved and why you chose the selected illustrator(s).
I will speak to the matter of how story and illustration interact... We work a lot with old, even ancient stories known as folktales... in a TV branded, over-hyped, consumer market these stories can feel so simple and quiet that they might disappear in the mayhem of a short- attention-span world. But great illustration invites a child into the story in ways that are hard to define. I have learned that good art can't make a bad story good, but it can make a good story great. I love making that match.
How often do you work with illustrators from outside the US?
Border? What border?
August House works regularly with many talented illustrators. Would you commission a fledgling illustrator, or do you prefer only to work with established illustrators?
We like to work with talented people who are willing to invest themselves in the outcome of the book. As long as the illustrator is talented, professional, and meets deadlines we will get along.
How does August House compare to rival publishers in terms of advances and royalty fees?
I don't really know. We are middle of the road. We are a small publisher, but we share big dreams with our talent.