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complete novice seeks answers to writing and illustrating a picture book

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bringiton

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Hello you talented bunch!!! Wow what can I say, I think I have struck gold with this site, it has all the answers you need for the budding illustrator such as myself.
I have read most of the posts here but haven't found one that answers my question, I'm sure its there but I was beginning to get eyeball ache searching though all the posts, although I have learnt loads on the way :). Anyway I have nearly finished putting together a picture book and am in the research phase for finding suitable publishers. I have my manuscript, my covering letter and copies of the illustrations. My question is, say I get extremely lucky and my illustrations are accepted, either with or without the story, will I be expected to do the final touch ups in photoshop or will they have a finishing team that does all of that? It seems that alot of you pros do all the finishing touches yourselves and even though I'm experienced in typesetting and finishing, I haven't got the facilities at this moment in time.

Thanks so much for your time oh wise ones
#1 - May 12, 2010, 12:54 PM

Rock of The Westies
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Hello Bring-It-On,

First, congratulations on taking your ideas to the next level and completing a manuscript and illustrations.  I would like to ask how many illustrations you have prepared to send with your manuscript. Usually three full color illustrations are best. If you've rendered more than that, you may want to consider putting a book dummy together. A dummy usually consists of black & white renderings with three full color illustrations included to show how you visualize the completed works. If you are submitting a dummy, then placing the text in the illustrations is part of the process. If you are submitting a manuscript and samples, it is not necessary to place the text into the artwork. If you are blessed with a yes and the publisher decides to put your book out into the world, the book designer will do the text placement.  Nothing is ever perfect upon submission and there will always be feedback, but it's best to get your works as polished as you can before you send them out.

Here is a link that may help with some of your questions: http://www.yellapalooza.com/tutorials/tutorials.html  

Edited to add: As you have noted in your questions, a publisher may be interested in your illustrations and not your manuscript. In that case, they may keep your samples on file for other projects that come their way that suits your style. An example would be if your story is about a dog and they love your way of rendering canines, they may want to contact you for another dog story they have in the works. It could also hold true for your manuscript  . . . There is the possibility that the publisher likes your story but thinks another illustrator's interpretation of your text would serve the story better. These are things to keep in mind when you both write and illustrate.
#2 - May 12, 2010, 03:19 PM
« Last Edit: May 12, 2010, 06:17 PM by funny stuff »
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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bringiton

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Many thanks for such a quick reply. Well at the moment most of the illustrations are complete, 15 are done and I have another 5 to do do which I'm hoping to get done in the next month. Iv'e heard they take a while to get a reply if at all so figured I will have enough time to get things completed. I hadn't thought about the dummy option before, all I have done is get 4 finished samples and scaled them down to fit one A4 piece. Which option do you think works best then?

I just wanted them to get the rough idea of what the book is all about. To be honest the more I am researching the whole business the more I'm realizing I have got one hell of an ambition to fulfill her, you guys are extremely talented!! Well I'm going to give it a shot but not holding my breath, I think there is a lot of work I need to do before I get to your level. I will post some pictures soon and see what the response is, little scared about the feedback but its all a learning curb for me :) I'm a woman with a mission right now and looking forward to the challenge so bring it on !!! I'm sure you will get lots more questions from me as the time goes on. Thanks so much again
Corrina
#3 - May 12, 2010, 11:41 PM

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From what I understand I don't think it's necessary to have all the art done. Like funny stuff says, three is enough to give the puplisher an idea of what your art is like and to decide if they want to have you do the illos or have another artist do them. Another common way to go about things is to make a book dummy like funny stuff says, but still you'd only have about three illos completely done. I think having the whole thing completely done could actually work against you...it's not really professional to submit a fully illustrated book.
#4 - May 12, 2010, 11:52 PM

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The editor and art director will have a lot to say about how a book is fully illustrated. They decide (with the illustrator) how the pacing of the book will take place, what scenes should be emphasized and which ones will be minimized, what the size of the book should be, whether it will be tall and skinny, short and fat, or square or some other shape, etc.

You've been given very good information about what to submit -- and what to not submit, too!

Just remember when you submit a fully illustrated book you are cutting your chances of getting published in half because the editor not only has to fall totally in love with your words, but also with your illustrations AND has to feel that those particular illustrations will make the book the best it can possibly be.

When people ask me about this, I often suggest that they submit their manuscript, and just a couple of illustrations (3 maximum - one in color) and in the cover letter tell the editor they would like to be considered for illustrating the story.

This lets the editor know you aren't locked in to doing your own artwork (assuming you aren't!) and that the editor can feel free to accept either the art or the text or both. It gives you a much better chance of getting accepted.
#5 - May 13, 2010, 12:09 AM
Verla Kay

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Another thing I just thought of--are you more interested in being a writer or an illustrator? If you want to be a writer, definitely do what Verla says and in your communications say that you don't mind if they go with another illustrator, because it's possible that the publisher might actually like your illustrations better than your writing and think you are applying for a job as an illustrator!
#6 - May 13, 2010, 12:49 AM

bringiton

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I'm definitely more interested in being an illustrator, it has always been a long lived dream of mine. I had to take a break out of anything creative due to having two children but now feel ready and eager to pursue this dream. I just thought I would give a crack at writing a book as well seeing that I have read hundreds of them now. The idea is actually my sons story and the characters are very much based on them so it is quite a personal project. I really do have confidence in the story and the illustrations I just wanted to see what the feedback would be to it. I understand that its a tough market but you have to give these things a go and at least its a starting point for me.

The only reason I am doing all the illustrations up front is for my personal use, my son keeps badgering me about when I'm going to have his story finished so we can read it properly. I wont be submitting all of them, I have just jotted down the ideas I had for each scene as a rough idea. As suggested I will send just a few examples and will keep my fingers crossed that they see some potential. At least this has given me a start to putting some portfolio pieces together. To either have the story on its own published or positive feedback to my illustrations will be a dream come true!
#7 - May 13, 2010, 02:12 AM

tamigirl

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There's a lot of great information here on the Blue Board, but you might also want to look at Harold Underdown's website. Harold is a frequent poster on the Blue Board and an editor. He's very helpful and really knows his stuff. Here's a link to what he has to say about picture books and illustrations- including a bit for author/illustrators in your situation  http://www.underdown.org/picture-books-illustrations.htm   And Harold recommends author/illustrators get a copy of Uri Shulevitz's Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books.
Good luck!
#8 - May 13, 2010, 06:02 AM

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As Tami said, Uri Schulevitz's Writing With Pictures is a wonderful book. I just pulled it out the other day for another look. It covers pacing and page turns, and the mechanics of PB's. I remember when I first got the book years ago I was intimidated about color separation . . . So happy that is not a worry now. With exception of that info, it's a timeless classic, possibly the best book for aspiring Picture Book creators.
#9 - May 13, 2010, 07:03 AM
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bringiton

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Thank you all for the tips, its greatly appreciated!! I have received my copy of the writers and illustrators yearbook and have now come across another dilemma...... which do you think is the best way forward to start off, submitting my ideas to a publisher directly or trying to find an agent first? I have read all the pros and cons and am struggling to decide which would be the best way forward. Any advice on what approach has worked best for  you?

Corrina
#10 - May 17, 2010, 01:38 PM

Corrina, First off, welcome to the boards!

As to an agent or publisher first, I think we all wonder about that and it comes down to what you are most comfortable with. Some people feel fine negotiating contracts and don't want to pay the fee to an agent while others would love an agent but it may be more difficult to find an agent than a publisher and others still don't want to do anything without an agent. So it really is a personal choice. You can always search for an agent first and if you don't succeed try publishers.

 Best of luck with your project, I'm sure your boys will love it!
#11 - May 17, 2010, 05:54 PM

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Thank you all for the tips, its greatly appreciated!! I have received my copy of the writers and illustrators yearbook and have now come across another dilemma...... which do you think is the best way forward to start off, submitting my ideas to a publisher directly or trying to find an agent first? I have read all the pros and cons and am struggling to decide which would be the best way forward. Any advice on what approach has worked best for  you?

Corrina

There's a FAQ page on one of my favorite illustrator's websites. He covers the agent and how do I get an agent questions with honesty.  It may be worth a look: http://www.chrisvandusen.com/faq
#12 - May 17, 2010, 08:23 PM
Fur Balls & Feathers & Fins, Oh My! Animals Are My Kind of People
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KenHenson

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Good luck with your project, Bringiton! 
#13 - May 26, 2010, 05:11 PM

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