SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Writer's Room => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: brett-dixon on November 04, 2020, 02:01 PM

Title: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: brett-dixon on November 04, 2020, 02:01 PM
Hello! New to SCBWI. I've been working with an illustrator partner. We concept book ideas together, and I get to writing while he creates the illustrations (and yes, we know that agents may want to divorce the two at some point, but we like co-creating together). My question is, as I look for agents to query/submit to, I'm often seeing that they want "author-illustrators." Do you think it's OK to contact them, or will they immediately "disqualify" us (and me, the writer) for being an author/illustrator team?  Curious if anyone knows more about this from experience!

And on a more general note, happy to be here and nice to meet whoever reads this. Hi. Hello. Have a good day.

 :yourock
Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: dewsanddamps on November 04, 2020, 05:28 PM
Hi, Brett! I suspect you'll have a more difficult time finding an agent as an author/illustrator team. An agent might want to sign one or both of you, but since your manuscripts and your partner's illustrations would be sent/showcased separately to publishers, there's no real advantage in querying together--and a good bit of disadvantage. You'll also find that some agents will rep PB authors but not illustrators (and possibly vice versa), so be sure to do your homework there.
 :goodluck
Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on November 04, 2020, 06:34 PM
There are publishers that don't mind teams, but those are uncommon. I've never heard of an agent interested in a team. They will sometimes team up people they already have, but taking on a team is different. There have been a few husband/wife author illustrator teams. Maybe see if those have the same agent and try those agents.

Think about it from the legal perspective. What happens to the agent relationships if you and your friend split up but were contracted together? If you do get an agent's interest, be sure to have an answer. If you are willing to be separated, consider submitting to the same agents separately. If you plan to share a single career, sub together.
Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: brett-dixon on November 10, 2020, 09:40 AM
Thanks, all. I appreciate it. To be clear, we'd be fine if only one of us gets signed. It's mostly a way for both of us to be able to present things in a more polished manner (he gets words to illustrate to, and i get pictures for my words).

These are good pointers, though. We'll talk it out based on your feedback. Thanks so much.
Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on November 10, 2020, 06:33 PM
Brett, to be traditionally published, if that is your goal, you don't need someone to illustrate your words. This does not benefit you. Agents want to see a publishable manuscript. Editors want the same.

Here's why: You are an unknown and your illustrator is an unknown.  Editors often pair up unknown authors with illustrators who have a following. That's a built in market for your words.

When you present the work together, it's assumed you intend to be a team. It is not seen as more professional or more polished than someone who presents only a manuscript. Polishing a manuscript is a matter of having it critiqued by people who understand the industry and have an ear to the market. To polish your manuscript, seek a critique group or post it to the critiques section of the boards. An illustrator's perspective can be invaluable in this process, but if your intent is to be taken on separately, you should both submit this way.

The illustrator can absolutely use pages done for your story as portfolio pieces for submission, which might get someone interested in your work. But there is no benefit to you in submitting their art with your manuscript.

So you won't be discounted as a team by everyone, but being a team narrows your options and doesn't offer much by way of benefit for either of you when you submit together. I hope this all makes sense.
Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: christripp on November 11, 2020, 04:18 AM
I'm often seeing that they want "author-illustrators." Do you think it's OK to contact them, or will they immediately "disqualify" us (and me, the writer) for being an author/illustrator team?

Hi Brett and WELCOME :)
As to the above question, yes, the Agent means by this they are looking for that ONE client that does both well. Not looking to sign 2 separate clients.
I would suggest that if you wish to try a joint submission, you might focus on submitting to those publishers that are open to Unrepresented Authors. If the art is professional, some smaller Publishers MAY be open to this.
Another problem with submitting finished/coloured art with a manuscript is, once the job of working with an Editor begins (for you), some or much of the text will change. Even the concept may change. Then the art has to all be redone because it's possible it doesn't make sense with the story anymore.  That's another reason a publisher doesn't look for an Illustrator until the manuscript is completely edited and ready to go.

Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: suzanne-meinert on November 13, 2020, 02:04 PM
Okay, this thread put the final nail in the coffin that is my artwork for my PB manuscript. 2 more questions-- if the manuscript does get accepted, is there any opportunity to mention at that time that you happen to have 32 illustrations that might be of interest? 
Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: olmue on November 13, 2020, 04:29 PM
Suzanne, I think yours is a different situation. It's much harder for a writer-illustrator team to both get in together (although it does happen!). However, if you are both the writer and illustrator and your illustration is to a professional level, then you can certainly submit (realizing that they may prefer your text be paired with someone else's art OR they may decide they like your style and want to match you with someone else). But I have seen so many author-illustrators that I think it is less rare than a team trying to get in together.

So don't give up yet. :)
Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on November 13, 2020, 06:02 PM
Once you are on the phone with an editor, you can mention that you have an artist in mind and point the editor to the artist's website. You can even say the artist is a friend who did some samples for you before you understood the usual process. There's no harm in putting it out there. At that point, the worst they do is say no to your friend's work. You'd still have your sale.
Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: suzanne-meinert on November 14, 2020, 02:39 PM
Olmue,  killing my babies was hard. Abandoning my stick figures is somehow harder.  Are your comments above made with or without having seen  my art on the illustrator page?  I LOVED making those simple figures. I love the idea of being able to split my story between my words and my own drawings, which I had to undo as I went forward as author only in my editing. And I love that Sunny is a cartoon and therefore looks like noone and anyone at the same time.    I am capable of upping the quality a little, but not a lot although I am toying with the idea of incorporating photographs digitally into the cartoons. 
Is the problem with a non-professional doing the art only the quality of the art? Certainly I can see the difference. Or is it the communication process-- I only just learned the difference between ygb vs cmyk for starters.
Debbie Vliardi and Pons have assuaged my ego with their much appreciated critiques of my manuscript. I am ready for the final blow for my art (with a back up plan of self publishing with my art  if my manuscript doesn't make it to a traditional publisher) but I would like an honest, objective opinion on if, having seen it, you or anyone feel it would be in my best interest to omit it in my submission or take the risk, or give the editor the option at the time of the query or drag it out if and when the manuscript is accepted. Thank you for your time.

This is the same link I put on the illustrator page.
https://1drv.ms/b/s!AgRrnqIdx9DkxwLhYnC7PkwI9kkl?e=ykph2g
I cannot seem to attach the art at this time directly.

Title: Re: Question about author-illustrator queries/submissions
Post by: dinalapomy101 on November 14, 2020, 03:27 PM
Is the problem with a non-professional doing the art only the quality of the art? Certainly I can see the difference. Or is it the communication process-- I only just learned the difference between ygb vs cmyk for starters.

Yes and yes. If you are not a professional artist, and your art does not look professional, do not submit it with your manuscript. Save your illustrations for your text if you decide to self-publish. An editor or agent will immediately see unprofessional artwork before they even get to the ms and dismiss it bc they don't have time to parse it out.