Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mark Wayne Adams ******* Award Wining Author, Illustrator and Publisher

When Tiffany Flowers, coordinator of the forthcoming South Carolina Literacy Celebration contacted me about featuring an author here, on Jeralyn Writes, I said, 'YES!' 

I waited in suspense and wondered: what author, what genre - WHO? When I found out WHO, I said, 'WOW!' 

I'm delighted to present the following interview with the nationally recognized illustrator for the Best Fairy Books Series ; Nicholas, That's Ridiculous! and numerous other children's picture books:

Mark Wayne Adams
Born in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, Mark Wayne Adams graduated college with a BFA in Drawing from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. He then moved to Central Florida, and has called Florida home for over twenty years. His work experience includes Walt Disney World Company, SeaWorld Orlando, Art Director for GSI Architectural Sign Company, and store manager for Sprint Print, Inc. Mark is now CEO of Mark Wayne Adams, Inc. and serves as President Elect for the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. 

Mark has illustrated over thirty children's books in six years winning numerous children's book awards. An unexpected reward in his publishing journey has been public speaking. Whether at professional organizations or elementary schools, Mark offers valuable insight, inspiring presentations, and a voice that reaches audiences across the United States. 

Q) It all started -  How, Where, When? 
A) Where: My mother was a librarian. Life for me was filled with books, mainly children’s books.

When: In 1996, my first publisher hired me to illustrate a fifteen-page book. I completed the project in fifteen days. My next project was a thirty-two-page book.  I completed that book in thirty days. The publisher was curious, how I finished two books in forty-five days. Especially when his other illustrators took a year per book.

How:  I draw at an animator’s pace. Animators draw hundreds of illustrations a day. As a children’s book illustrator, I decided 1-5 pictures a day meant I’d complete an illustrated picture book every 30 days. Six years later, working about 6 hours a day, five days a week, eight months a year, I’ve illustrated almost 40 picture books.

My first publisher was right, “If you keep this pace Mark, you’ll make a ridiculous amount of money as a children’s book illustrator.”

Q) Where do the ideas come from? 
A) The key for me is continually drawing in my sketchbook. I draw from life, my imagination, and from inspiring stories. As a child, Walt Disney’s animators inspired me.

Now, current award-winning books inspire me. Applying an award-winning standard creates successful books. Professional illustrations, graphic design, and editing are key for all my projects. These elements help me stay inspired.

Q) Do any of the characters pertain to your childhood? 
A) Of course! I’ve hidden countless people in my books. The characters from “Jilli, That’s Silly!” and “Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!” are the author and her children. My entire family is hidden in “King for a Day, the Story of Stories.” And the sweetest, most important, childhood character is “The Belly Button Fairy.” The Belly Button Fairy was my babysitter, Mrs. Ila Mae Parker. She never saw herself immortalized inside the book.

Q) What part does humor play in your work?
A) I’m the illustrator of “The Fart Fairy.” Humor is a given. To set the mood for most projects, I listen to Christmas music. How can I be sad with Santa Claus coming to town! The music reminds me of being a kid and reflects joy in the expressions of my characters. The Fart Fairy came from other inspirational sounds. Ha Ha!

Q) What advice can you offer to upcoming illustrators/authors? 
A) Treat publishing like a business. I don’t push retail store sales much these days. Amazon is the largest retailer of books. Opening an Amazon account reaches the largest consumer audience. Retailers (bookstores, gift shops, etc.) collect up to 50% of the retail price. Authors and Illustrators are usually responsible for shipping costs, damages, and returns. Profit is less successful in these markets.

I focus on point of sale locations: book festivals, schools, my website, and running promotions. I make the most profit in these locations even when offering sales and discounts. Diversity in distribution is a must. Not every consumer shops for products in the same way. Be prepared by having accounts not only at Amazon, but also other large chains. Wearing a publisher hat means a book is a product, not your baby.

Q) With over 30 illustrated books, what's next?
A) I have four great new books, “Polly and Her Pigtails,” “Scribble Dee Sophie,” “Franny’s Rescue,” and “Johari’s Joy.” Polly and Johari both received medals in the Mom’s Choice Awards.  I’m currently illustrating and publishing “Parts of Speech Parade,” “Frozen Floppies,” and “The Freckle Fairy,” which is the fifth book in the award-winning Best Fairy Books Series.

I’m also releasing my first illustrated novel in the “Bothers & Sinisters Series,” Spanish print and eBook versions of “Nicholas, That’s Ridiculous!” and “Jilli, That’s Silly!,” and my first how to book,“AIM Kit, Authors & Illustrators Marketing Kit” all before July.

After July, I plan on promoting authors and books until December. Followers can also find me at numerous speaking events from Ohio to Florida.

In between writing, illustrating, and publishing, plus his many speaking events, and cherished moments of humor, Mark Wayne Adams can be reached at: www.markwayneadams.com; or, follow him on Twitter: @markwayneadams 


  1. The kids have all the Fairy books. The Fart Fairy is their favorite. Good interview.

    1. With so many books, Mr. Adams is quite impressive. I'm familiar with many of his books and can attest that kids love them all. My step-daughter likes the Belly Button Fairy of all.