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Help! Criteria and illustration to agents

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Hello everybody ! First post here

I have some questions I would really love help with. I’ve created a picture book related to my career. I’m a hygienist and the story follows a tooth during her cleaning.

My page is 21 pages and approx 400 words.

I do want to submit it with a query(because hey why not), but have some questions you guys can hopefully help with.

1) So my biggest confusion is with the illustrations. I do have the book fully illustrated but I’m hearing that sending it with the manuscript can hurt my chances since they’ll want their own illustrator? I’m open to then changing it, but it’s a tooth …photos would be helpful in my opinion haha.

2) I’m also learning picture books need to be a minimum of 24 pages so I would need to add s few more which is no issue. But since they don’t seem to want it fully illustrated anyways, is it tacky for me to send a story board with only the 21 photos? Or do you think I really need to have 3 more pages illustrated before sending??

3) When looking through query tracker there’s two genres one for children books and one for picture books. Would I only submit to picture book authors altho it’s still a childrens book?

I’d be SO appreciative of any feedback please!
#1 - September 05, 2022, 11:12 AM

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Here are some answers:

1. If this is nonfiction, photo illustration make sense, but if this is a informational fiction, it may well be illustrated. The difference is that informational fiction has a fictional element. For example, the tooth speaks. If the tooth is narrating the story, then maybe it should be illustrated. Some works contain photos that are manipulated to give a sense of the world and characters. Your story sounds like informational fiction.

2. It can be better to think in terms of two-page spreads instead of unique pages. You need 12 or 16 spreads. Some may contain two images, one per page, but others will have a single image or even a few smaller images. With a picture book, art is carrying as much story as text. Look at  bunch of informational fiction and see how they are laid out if you can. A children's librarian is a great resource for things like this. Look at nonfiction too to see which your book fits with.

3. Children's books is a broad term. Some people use it to refer to picture books and up. Others may only want chapter books and up. Other categories are middle grade and young adult novels as well as graphic novels in both fiction and nonfiction. If an agent says they take children's books, look for images or descriptions of the books they rep. Sometimes you'll see picture books and sometimes you won't. Also see if the guidelines mention subbing a picture book. And look for interviews and MSWL (manuscript wishlist) info to see what is mentioned there. In other words, Query Tracker is just the starting point. An agent website is the most accurate.

I hope this helps. Good luck.
#2 - September 05, 2022, 05:53 PM
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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1) So my biggest confusion is with the illustrations. I do have the book fully illustrated but I’m hearing that sending it with the manuscript can hurt my chances since they’ll want their own illustrator?
I'm not 100% clear if you hired someone to Illustrate it or if YOU are the Illustrator? If you are and if you feel the art is up to the standards you are seeing published, then many Agents are looking for AuthorIllustrators. If it was Illustrated by someone else, then you're correct, you just send out the manuscript to Agents that still accept sub's by Author only.

The Library is the best place to pour through ton's of PB samples for layout, page numbers, text/Illustration pacing (spreads singles/vignettes) and as Debbie says, ask the Librarian if she/he can help you find other examples of PB's featuring inanimate objects.

#3 - September 06, 2022, 04:25 AM
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