Chicken!

Activities & Play, african, design, Events, idea, London, North London, publishing, Zimbabwe

chicken-magazine-2013-cvr

It’s been an incredible few months.I’ve been slowly and steadily heading back to doing books full-time and it hasn’t been easy at all.

The plan was to return to the days when there were only  books and book ideas on my work list. I have a couple of titles to try as ebooks and started planning for the Bologna Book Fair 2014.

But the idea of becoming a book publisher and a micro sized book publisher at that, worried me. That hasn’t gone away. It may be my vocation, but it’s still business, right? All that lies before me is an incredible schedule of trying to get the titles noticed, paying for a print run and then worrying about when (if) it will make the invested money back. It ooh several more weeks looking at numbers trying to find another way to minimise the risk. With th sol school publishing knowledge I have, it feels like  the path gets narrower the further down it one travels. And its great like that; you might brush against a revolutionary new idea and succeed. But you might also brush against something disastrous.

The past few years I have started to value community. These are the people that we can all count on, in however small way. Your neighbourhood, your family, your friends around the world are all incredibly important. I struggled to tell these stories in book form for children. Its better when they are experienced in a different way, somehow. I’ve also been designing and editing newspapers and magazines so have been aware of the many ways to tell a story.

All this preamble is a fitting introduction to the subject of this post. I think I’ve cracked it; the other way to tell stories and still get everything I want!

A tabloid sized newspaper for primary school people. Have a look at the preview.

It won’t be available everywhere. It starts in my neighbourhood early next year. It’s a quarterly. It involves its audience and their grown ups. It brings children’s content to the fore, not just children’s books and I think it’s the closes thing to a physical blog that have ever worked on. If it works, then it will grow and spread. Time will tell.

K

Getting into the world of insects

Activities & Play, character, Events, From the sketchbooks, idea, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, London, pre school books

© KenWilson-Max 2013

© KenWilson-Max 2013

Okay. Coming from an African country, I have seen some crazy (and dangerous) insects in my time.  Whether I’m right or wrong about the bugs I like or dislike, most people have a thing, a phobia, if you like, about some creepy crawly. For some it spiders, for others its anything that has wings and buzzes. Children are fascinated by them, though and that’s what this upcoming project is all about. Wtih your help (hopefully) I am, I mean, WE are going to create a complete entomology of made up insects.  The finished ones should look like the above.

Cool, yes!

I have a dozen or so in my sketchbooks waiting to be finished, appreciate any other suggestions or even sketches. There might even be some prizes in it, you never know.

This should be fun…

K

New For July, 2013

Activities & Play, african, character, design, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, London, publishing

photo1

Two new Lenny Books; Lenny Goes to School & Where’s Lenny? Available in the UK from July…

These two tittles took a little time but came together very well. It’s still thrilling to see your own work in print!

K

Summer Events

african, baby, Events, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, London, North London, pre school books, Profile, publishing

A3 opb Carnegie_Page_1

I have two important events this summer. One is Pop Up 2013 and the other, running parallel to the announcing of the Carnegie Greenaway 2013  Medal Winner, is happening tomorrow, June 19 at Platform on Hornsey Road in North london. Schools have had the chance to look over the shortlist and will be making their own choices for the winners. They will announce them at  the same time as the formal announcements are made.

Preparations for both events are underway and they are connected. I have always done events as part of my ‘job’- I’ve treated them like an add-on and not paid too much attention to their importance. Last year at the Pop up Festival, I did a short (20 minute) event for young children which ended up with me becoming one of this year’s festival creators/curators. I have finally realised how good my events can be, without blowing my trumpet too loudly. How many times to we creators miss out on self publicity because we’re just not thinking of the potential business? I will be writing a post about the business of creating very soon. Anyway, these two events mark a change in attitude for me since I realised that events are a big part of what I do as a creator.

I am working with a drama professional, Sylvia Cohen  and we have devised a workshop (hopefully the first of many) on finding ideas that will excite, educate and entertain. The brainstorming and teamwork is energising. So, I guess the third event of the summer is the one where we get to plan and launch this refreshed approach.

Would anyone like to know how to present better? Or to run a workshop? Keep watching the Illustrationist.

 

K

ps. Here’s a sample of the workshop content. We’re making an e-book which should be ready in the next two weeks. We’re also printing a One Page Book for kinds to take a way.

A3 opb Carnegie-dig

Self promotion in your own back yard

Activities & Play, african, design, Events, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, London, pre school books, publishing

It’s a rainy summer Sunday in London. Another one. I am due to perform at a festival called Zim Arts day, in South East London. Last weekend I performed at the Pop Up Festival of Literature, which was a great success.

I had a chance to watch James Mayhew in action, which was really good. I first met him when I worked at Orchard Books back in the 80’s. I worked on some of his books – his rich, saturated Chagall-like colour stood outing a sea of subtlety.

But I digress. At that time, promotion was a choice. It was not expected of writers and illustrators. It was controlled by the publishers and agents, all comfortable in the knowledge that it wasn’t necessary, really. They knew the prices they were selling the books were not likely to change as the had made agreements with book stores to keep them at a certain level. The Net book agreement is a topic for another post.

Jump to this decade and things are very different. Children’s publishing is a shadow of its former self. Authors and illustrators who don’t promote themselves are forgotten. It is part of the job. The biggest challenge is to wrestle your list of fans and followers away from your publishers and into your own control, if you are published. If you are not, the challenge is to build that community for yourself.

The event today is one of those opportunities. I have books published in 10 languages, from Estonian to Korean, around 60 books sunder my belt and my own countrymen don’t know me or any of this. It will be interesting.

K