I was talking with an author friend of mine who’s recently jumped into the eBook market. Her work is outstanding. Our conversation eventually turned to comments and reviews, specifically on line reviews. She was bothered by a particularly ugly comment left by some pompous jerk with nothing constructive to say. I commiserated with her and mentioned that anytime I’m feeling a little cocky or too full of myself I head on over to YouTube and read my reviews. There’s always a few over there that’ll shake you up and leave you questioning the future for humanity.
For the most part people on line are amazing. They cheer you on, say wonderful things about your work and make you feel great. It’s really gratifying to see your hard work actually appreciated by someone other than your mom or your grandma. The problem is sooner or later some jerk comes along and sticks his finger in the cake. But is that really the problem? Or is the problem that we focus way too much attention on the jerks. I mean lets face it small minded people will say hateful things. Do we really need to listen? Do we need to even pay attention? The first time I received an ugly review like that it really upset me. I deleted it and then spent WAY too much time thinking about it. It even made me second guess myself the next time I wanted to post something. I knew there was nothing constructive about it but for some reason it stuck with me and I obsessed over it.
I mentioned the the comment to a friend of mine who gave me some great advice. When I asked him what I should do or how to respond he told me simply not to do anything. Just to leave it and watch what happens. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of leaving something like that in my comment section and I let him know it but he laughed and told me again to just watch.
True to the Youtube comment section’s nature it didn’t take long for some other jerk to crawl out of the slime and leave another steaming pile of horse manure in my comment section. This time against my better judgement I left it in there just as my friend had advised. I decided to give it a day, if nothing happened I would delete it just like last time. I closed the browser and came back a few hours later. Someone had posted a comment calling this guy out for the jerk he was, and then another. Eventually the nasty comment was buried by friendly support. My faith in humanity was restored but more importantly I realized that focusing any energy at all on a loathsome review was completely pointless. I had a roomful of viewers who were kind, supportive AND actually took the time to leave friendly, encouraging reviews. Why in the world would I not focus my energy there.
If you’re on the fence about posting your art because you’re worried about dealing with the occasional nasty comment I’m not here to sugar coat it. It’s going to happen. Will it sting? Yeah, probably… but the way I see it you have a choice. You can either listen to one voice telling you you’re worthless or you can listen to a roomful of people who stand behind you and can’t wait to see you succeed. I don’t know about you but the choice seems pretty obvious to me.
On a side note. Since the time I originally wrote this article I’ve found something interesting. An empty or unattended post often draws the most flies. In other words by being present and participating in whatever you post, comment on, add dialog etc., you will gain more support and experience less negative feedback. People who leave comments are hoping for you to engage with them so take a little time and engage the rewards are immeasurable.
I’ve been working with author Julia Dweck on an eBook about dinosaurs. We’ve been having tons of fun with this book and it should be coming out any minute now. Here’s a quick behind the dino-scenes look at how to illustrate a dino-eBook.
Illustrating an eBook step 1:
This book is a based on a poem about dinosaurs. The theme for this particular page was about a dino party at night. I wasn’t quite sure where to go with it so I sat down with my iPad and started sketching. As you can see my initial sketch is pretty rough but loosely blocking things in allows me play around, have some fun and not get too attached to the drawing. After trying a few different directions I decided to go with a dino-pool party.
Illustrating an eBook step 2:
I was pretty happy with the rough so I printed out a version so I could trace and clean up. I work with super-cheap copy paper… mostly because it’s super cheap. Sometimes I go directly from the iPad to Illustrator but in this case I was having a little trouble getting the exact look I wanted. Whenever that happens I throw down a fresh piece of paper and grab a pencil. I guess I’m just an old school guy because pencil on paper never fails.
Illustrating an eBook step 3:
The next step is to drag everything into Adobe Illustrator and create the line art. It’s all done on layers because as you know there are about 37 different types of e-readers out there and they come in all shapes and sizes. That means we’ll probably need to shift things around to fill pages better when the proportions change. Having things on layers makes that A LOT easier.
Illustrating an eBook step 4:
Once the line work is complete the illustration is colored in Illustrator and then assembled with text in InDesign. Even though I had roughed out the book in advance I thought this illustration looked better flopped. That’s the beauty of using tools like Illustrator and InDesign they are super flexible and allow you to make changes on the fly (of course depending how fussy you are that can be a double edged sword). You young whippersnappers out there with your fancy technology will not appreciate the magnitude but to us old timers being able to make changes as you go is something we used to only dream about. So that’s my story. From here it’s off to Julia for review then straight to production. If all goes well you’ll be hearing about the release of this book very soon. Thanks for reading.
Here is a little video for anyone who loves cats and loves drawing. I did this one down at Burning Oak Studio down in Raleigh a few years ago. I had a great time shooting these. I was a little nervous when I first went in because I had no idea what I was doing but the folks in the studio were great and helped me figure out which end of the marker to draw with and other things that seem so natural when the camera isn’t rolling.
We shot these videos over a couple of days and at the end of the first day I quickly realized it wouldn’t be a bad idea to actually have a few things prepared to say while I was drawing. So, I went home that night and worked on a little script I would use for each of the drawings the following day. I imagined the witty banter I would toss about as I appeared completely relaxed drawing away in a carefree, happy go lucky studio environment. I imagined being the envy of artists everywhere.
Flash forward to day two. Lights on, cameras rolling, me clumsily clutching my pencil for dear life with sweaty palms, a giant shiny forehead and a neon orange shirt…..And Action! Oh no…My mind goes blank. All the witty banter, all the carefree happy go lucky dialog flies right out the window and it’s just me in my orange shirt with a marker and some paper. Wait, what’s my name? Where’s my website?
The guys at Burning Oak, Rob and Matt, were great. They stopped cameras, calmed me down, clowned around a little and got things back on track. It’s funny how something as simple as, My name is Bob Ostrom and you can find me at Bob Ostrom Studio.com ends up being five takes.