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author/illustrator agent trend

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ladylind

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When I first started to do research on how to get published, I kept reading that you don't do your own illustrations because the publisher will choose one, so I was tiptoeing around a bit.  But then it looks like agents are looking for writer/illustrators.  So I wondered if that is a recent phenomenon and what is causing the change AND if writer/illustrators are finding success.

Am I wrong in thinking that when children's books first came out that they were generally author/illustrator, Peter Rabbit, etc..  When did that change?  What history book covers these topics? :tease

Thanks,

LL :cricket
#1 - August 24, 2009, 01:39 PM

Z-cat

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I just wanted to add that I think you're right.
I was dabbling with PBs a while ago, and it never even occured to me to look for an agent- maybe an art rep, but it seems like their clients still wind up doing a lot of the work themselves.

Recently, I've been researching agents to query for a MG novel, and I was really surprised how many author/illustrator agents I found out there.
I might have to dust off the ol' PB mannies, and get them in better shape!
#2 - August 24, 2009, 03:12 PM

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I don't know if there are more agents repping author/illustrators now or not, but I think that a lot of that advice is aimed at people who mistakenly think that if they write a pb (text), they are responsible for the artwork. I have a feeling publishers see an awful lot of well, awful "art" attached to text that is not only unnecessary, but something that adds a negative impression to the text because of its amateur quality. Hence the advice "never" to include illustrations. But I do think it's a whole lot different if you are an author/illustrator. (And the information about how to do/be that seems a closely guarded guild secret, as far as I can tell...:) )
#3 - August 24, 2009, 03:21 PM

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When I first started to do research on how to get published, I kept reading that you don't do your own illustrations because the publisher will choose one, so I was tiptoeing around a bit.  But then it looks like agents are looking for writer/illustrators.  So I wondered if that is a recent phenomenon and what is causing the change AND if writer/illustrators are finding success.

Am I wrong in thinking that when children's books first came out that they were generally author/illustrator, Peter Rabbit, etc..  When did that change?  What history book covers these topics? :tease

Thanks,

LL :cricket


Not just PB's, think about all those questions you see on writers' boards where people insist that they design their own book covers and just won't let it go! So, I bet there probably ARE a lot of wanna-be author/illustrators out there...not to mention people who have their kids do the illustrating. It's a wonder some agents take submissions at all!

But hey, why would an agent NOT want to rep a competent author/illustrator? Author/illustrators don't have to split royalties, so more $$$ for the agnet!
#4 - August 24, 2009, 10:27 PM

ladylind

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(And the information about how to do/be that seems a closely guarded guild secret, as far as I can tell...:) )

I was thinking that too.  A guarded guild secret.  Hmmmm.  How to get the keys to That closet.

LL :ha

#5 - August 26, 2009, 02:01 PM

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Author/illustrators are NOT a new phenomenon, nor are they something that existed in the days of Beatrix Potter and then disappeared until recently. Think of Maurice Sendak, or Ezra Jack Keats, or (somewhat more recently) David Weisner or Emily McCully, or...  And they were usually repped by their artist's rep, or an agent, or by themselves.

For a great history of children's publishing in the US, which covers some of this and many other topics, you should read Leonard Marcus's Minders of Make-Believe.

If you're a professional illustrator with a fully developed picture book dummy, that's OK and always has been -- that advice not to present a package really applies, as a couple people have said, to writers turning their hands to illustration without training. For more on this, see my article, Picture Book Manuscripts and Illustrations, which includes some advice about how to unlock that closely guarded guild secret (not so closely guarded, actually)....
#6 - August 26, 2009, 02:24 PM
« Last Edit: August 26, 2009, 02:26 PM by HaroldU »
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/HUnderdown

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If you're a professional illustrator with a fully developed picture book dummy, that's OK and always has been -- that advice not to present a package really applies, as a couple people have said, to writers turning their hands to illustration without training. For more on this, see my article, Picture Book Manuscripts and Illustrations, which includes some advice about how to unlock that closely guarded guild secret (not so closely guarded, actually)....

Thanks for the link to your article. It answers a lot of questions I had.
#7 - August 26, 2009, 08:19 PM

ladylind

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Harold,

Nice piece, I went to amazon directly to purchase Uri's book and for the history of... I'll check it out at the library.

Thanks for the information.

LL
#8 - August 27, 2009, 07:55 AM

ladylind

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Harold,

Another question for you. 

Do you think that putting together a dummy over just providing 3 sample drawings is more likely to get a book published?

Thanks so much.

LL
#9 - August 28, 2009, 11:09 AM

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All other things being equal? Yes. It won't make a huge difference, though. In terms of making a difference, it would be much more important to write a tight, engaging text with no copyediting glitches rather than a loose, bland text with many typos and sentence structure problems.

But a dummy does showcase your book design and layout abilities and reassures a publisher that you know how to put a picture book together. So if they are on the edge, it could tip them in your favor.
#10 - August 28, 2009, 11:57 AM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
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Z-cat

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Ha!
I was reading that post strictly in regards to agents.
A few years ago, when I was putting together dummies (trained illustrator talking) I didn't think about looking for a literary agent, because the consensus seemed to be that not very many agents took on first time pb writers as clients. If you were an illustrator, there were art reps, but no one advised me that literary agents might be looking for author/illustrators. Then the advice about who you should send the dummy to, editor or art director, became even more confusing.
Since then, I have seen come across more agents that are looking specifically for author/illustrators, but still not just authors, or just illustrators.
I think that *maybe* those folks really looking for author/illustrators are starting to make themselves more visible to all the emerging talent out there.
Just my couple of coins.
#11 - August 29, 2009, 07:03 AM

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