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Will my illustrations ruin my submission?

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Against all advise I went and illustrated my picture book.  I am not an artist, and my art does not compare to any I have seen by members here.  I felt compelled to do so  as I needed to read my story to my patients as they are my authenticiy readers. In doing so, I created the "layer cake" that Veral Kay referred to in her post, which I realize I will have to let go of unless I am the author -illustrator.
So my question is--does this type of sentence in my query letter ( and a few samples) allow for the option of just having my manuscript accepted? Or does it present a problem an editor would rather just avoid altogether?
"My patients were my authenticity readers and they required illustrations. While this submission is not contingent on the use of these illustrations, I am happy to provide the complete “dummy” should you so desire."
I will also attach one sample of the art here-- so you know what I'm working with.
Also, would the critique board be the better place for this question?
#1 - November 04, 2020, 05:41 AM

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Hi Suzaane,

OK. So if I'm reading this post, you already sent the query out? If so, what's done is done. But this is my answer for future queries: If you are not an author/illustrator, which it sounds like you are not, then do not send sample illustrations. Your words are enough. Editors and art directors are pros. If the book is well written, they will "see" what the illustrations might be and they will hire the illustrator to do the work. Yes, you said that the illustrations you sent weren't contingent, but including illustrations not intended for the book is not the norm and it likely shows your inexperience. Which is fine. Everyone starts out new and makes a few mistakes! :-)

In addition, I would recommend finding a critique group to review your text instead of relying on your patients as "authenticity readers". While their opinions may be helpful , getting the input from other writers, people who understand the craft of writing a PB, will improve your text immensely.

I hope this helps! And I thought your illustration was cute.
#2 - November 04, 2020, 06:25 AM
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I agree with Deb, but I will also add that I wouldn't  reference patients as beta readers, which is what they are. It's like saying your children read your book and just loved it. I wouldn't reference any beta readers. Your query and manuscript should speak for themselves. You can include illustration notes with your manuscript if the text absolutely needs it, but be sparse with them. As Deb said, the agents and editors you submit to know their business.
#3 - November 04, 2020, 07:45 AM

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Thank you both for your replies. I have NOT sent my query letters yet, so I very much value your input.  This is a story about a boy with paralysis from spina bifida -- I am hoping that changes your opinion about the "authenticity readers".  My patients were invaluable in creating this story. My kids were just tolerant. Looking forward to this answer too now, thanks.
#4 - November 04, 2020, 01:25 PM

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I will add that, since you are a scbwi member, there are wonderful opportunities on their website to learn more about the industry. The webinars in particular are an absolute gift. They will help in many ways, one of which is to appreciate how much is involved in illustrating a picture book. Seriously, as a writer, my eyes were opened to another world entirely. Illustrating is so much more than making pictures from the words! I haven't said this particularly well, but I hope you go and check them out. You may reconsider mentioning your pictures at all in a cover letter. Having said that, we are all beginners in this business at some time, and editors/agents are usually pretty understanding of that. Best wishes!
#5 - November 04, 2020, 02:00 PM
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suzanne, you've rec'd good advice regardinging your illos. i agree to submitting the text only and you can mention you consulted people with spina bifida for accuracy in your query. best wishes on your submission.

how i wish i'd known about submission etiquette when i subbed my first pb: https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com/2020/09/my-first-picture-book.html
#6 - November 04, 2020, 02:51 PM
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This is a story about a boy with paralysis from spina bifida -- I am hoping that changes your opinion about the "authenticity readers".  My patients were invaluable in creating this story. My kids were just tolerant.

It's fine that you consulted with your parents and their expertise. But do yourself a favor and just don't mention this in a query letter. Some writers do have kids who love their stories, lucky them. But no matter, they shouldn't mention it in a query. If *you* have have authority on the subject, it is relevant to mention. Relatives? Better not. It's a matter of wanting to put forth the most professional appearance on what is, in fact, a business proposal..

#7 - November 04, 2020, 05:27 PM
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If you have expertise in this area, by all means, mention that in your query. Once an agent or editor likes the ms and wants to know more or accepts it, that's the time to talk about how you have vetted the ms with actual patients.
#8 - November 04, 2020, 05:56 PM

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It's great that you took on this project with patient input. I bet the kids loved seeing themselves in the book you were working on. But do not mention that in the query. Do mention your experience in the field. You can talk about the rest once you pass the first stage with an industry professional. My guess is they'd prefer an adult authenticity reader or two, assuming your patients are kids like your main character.

We have critique boards for both the text and illustrations. It might be good to get some feedback on both. https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?board=121.0 and https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?board=181.0. It can be hard to accurately judge our own work.
#9 - November 04, 2020, 06:45 PM
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