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New to all of this and need help with getting started...

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Hi everyone! I'm an aspiring author/illustrator who is very interested in breaking into graphic novels. I have been to the library and the bookstore to do some market research on what is currently out there. I have read several recently published graphic novels already and will continue to read and research further. I am also deaf/hard of hearing and would love to incorporate that into my work, since diverse books are such a big thing right now. The problem is, I'm so overwhelmed I just don't know where to begin.

I think my first step is to put together a portfolio? But then what? Do I start querying agents or do I go directly to the publishers? And do the agents/publishers want me to have a book proposal ready first in addition to my portfolio? And if that's true, then what do I put in the book proposal? And I believe for a graphic novel I don't need to actually have the whole book fully written and illustrated first, right? I just have to have a few sample chapters and a script? Do I need anything else, like additional sketches that aren't fully done but show a basic idea of what I want to do with the story? Or am I supposed to wait to do that until I actually get a publishing contract?

I just want to make sure I'm doing this right before I get started. Any tips that can help point me in the right direction will be much appreciated!
#1 - August 09, 2022, 04:38 PM

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I'm going to take your question one at a time in order to try to keep from overwhelming you further.

First, are you interested in illustrating work written by other people? If so, a portfolio is the way to go. Use the art style you hope to sell. But if you are willing to do picture books or cover art, have some pieces in appropriate styles.

Second, once your portfolio is solid, you start querying artist reps and some agents. (Look for folks interested in author/illustrators for graphic novels.) You may also query with a graphic novel proposal.

If you are not interested in illustrating material written by someone else, then you put together a proposal with sample art. Here's a page from a literary agent on what a proposal contains: Read the bottom section first. And here's a related page on how to query it:

Good luck.
#2 - August 09, 2022, 06:41 PM
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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:welcome Iris. You're in the right place. It's normal to feel overwhelmed with what all one must be doing to be successful in this business. You're doing the right thing by studying what's published. While you're reading to study, also take note of who's publishing the books, who the agents are for these authors and illustrators. But I'd focus on the craft at this stage since you say you are new to all this. Write the story you want to write. Draw the pictures. Try to find a local group with whom you can share your work with. Your regional advisor should be able to help you find a critique group. When you've made the work as best as possible, only then would I consider sending it out. And by that time, you'll have an online portfolio to attract agents and publishers. Check out the portfolios of our members and see what elements you like, what makes sense to showcase, and go from there. You might already have come across Cece Bell's memoir El Deafo. If not, check it out. It's wonderful you are both a writer and artist. Good luck!
#3 - August 10, 2022, 01:16 PM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags

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MANY yrs ago (maybe 12?) I attended a Highlights weekend with Matt Phelan talking about Graphic Novels. If memory serves (these days it usually doesn't) his submission to Candlewick was in a movie script format, because he went to Uni to study, hopefully write, movie scripts.
Since many GN's might only have text moving the story along in less then 1/2  the book, a script can be used to describe panel by panel, pg by pg, what's happening in the story.  Google Matt and there are a number of interviews (like for "Snow White", at the Miami Book Fair) where you'll get glimpses of inspiration on setting up your Manu"script" :) For a GN all thumbnail sketches need to be completed IMO because they are in essence, your text and you always complete any other manuscript before submission. BUT nothing needs to, or should be, final art.
For your portfolio, SCBWI has on-line events from time to time that pertain to them. I just saw this one, and reg closes tomorrow (Friday) coincidently. It's $50 for members but does sound very good, because of the Art Director doing it. I'm sure the 15 private portfolio reviews are filled up by now but doesn't hurt to find out. Either way, you can be part of the on-line course.
Do check with your regional IC to find out what other events might be happening for Illustrators, specifically for GN's and Portfolio. (you can also spend time going region by region to see what up coming events they might be hosting) Good luck!
#4 - August 11, 2022, 05:08 AM
"Penelope and the Humongous Burp"
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