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A question regarding the pinned "Picture Book Illustrations?" post above

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Hey everyone. I've only just started this journey to become a writer and I have a lot of questions. Currently I'm working on a series of Picture Books based around the same characters. As a writer you have a vision of how your characters look and if I could do my on illustrations I wouldn't have this question.  In a pinned post above called Picture Book Illustrations? Verla Kay stated the following:

Many new writers of picture books want to know where they can find an illustrator and how they should send their art notes to an editor with their manuscript.  The hard truth of the matter is you don't.

"Writing a picture book is only half the battle. The other half is learning to “let go” of your vision and allowing the illustrator to create his (or her) part of the book.  You write the words and build a verbal picture in the mind of the reader.  The illustrator will build a completely separate image for the reader (often adding many incredible layers that you never dreamed of) to your story. "


I noticed that this was written 9 years ago.  My question is does it still work this way or are publishers and illustrators more open to notes on the look of our characters then before?   My reason for asking is the universeI am building has a certain look that I plan on carrying on into Easier Readers, Mid Grade, Choose your Own, and YA books I am writing later.  I'd want to give some input to allow the illustrator to capture that tone before giving them the creative control over how the art looks.  Thanks for the information.

TR
#1 - July 16, 2019, 04:19 AM

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Nope, still true. It's a collaboration--the book is as much the illustrator's as it is yours.

You might have trouble carrying the characters forward into different age groups anyway. I think they'd need to be with the same publisher. I wouldn't worry about that for now, though.
 :goodluck
#2 - July 16, 2019, 07:13 AM
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What dewsanddamp said.  The publisher will find the illustrator and you will have to trust that they will do the story justice. Most PB authors state that the illustrations went above and beyond their imagination.

And I agree, as well, that carrying characters forward into different age groups may not be as easy to do. Focus on the first story, get it to be the best that it can be, then let it go into the world and see what happens. :-)

Best of luck!!!!!
#3 - July 16, 2019, 09:22 AM
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Yep, what they said.

Some of the most fun in seeing your book come to life is seeing what the illustrator brings to the table. They are amazing creators and I am in awe of them.
#4 - July 16, 2019, 09:41 AM
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What you may find too, is that some of your vision is evident enough in your text to have the illustrator's work fall somewhere in line with it. This isn't always the case. Sometimes you may be surprised that the illustrator's vision adds another level of story to your words.

One of my PB texts was picked up by an E-Publisher about five or so years ago. I did not feel my illustration style matched the text, so I sent the manuscript not mentioning I illustrate. The person they contracted did exactly what I had in mind on certain spreads. I was not asked for input and the work was never sent to me for a look before it was published. (Some publishers do send the illustrations to the author for final review).

For one of the books I illustrated, I had an idea to add story. It  involved adding details to the beginning and end of a cumulative rhyming text based on a song, that isn't exactly a story. I asked the publisher if they were okay with it, they sent the question to the author and I was given the go ahead. I've also heard a writer say that the illustrator for one of their books worked with the publisher on  an idea that gave more story and emotion through the imagery.

The illustrators vision is very much part of the story. There are times when illustration notes/descriptions are acceptable, and that's when it's integral to telling the story. If a character gets made fun of for having red hair and freckles, that should be in the text, so art notes wouldn't be needed. One of those times it would be needed is when the narrative is opposite to what's actually happening.   RE: " I Helped Momma wash the dishes." ~ And the illustration shows the child putting plates and utensils on the floor for the dog to lick.
#5 - July 16, 2019, 10:54 AM
« Last Edit: July 16, 2019, 10:56 AM by Cynthia Kremsner »
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You have great responses above. I wanted to add the reason changing age groups may not happen.

If you sell your first picture book to a publisher and the book does well, the publisher might consider turning it into a series. (The term well is relative.) If the series does well, maybe there will be chapter books and even a TV/streaming show. This happens. Picture books and chapter books are read by the same age group: 4-8 year olds. As kids learn to read, they jump back and forth. It's easy to keep the same or a similar tone as well.

I don't know if there are any series that have jumped from PB to MG. (If anyone does, please share.) There are licensed properties, like Star Wars, that are so popular they have work in every age category, even adult. But those are the exception. Even Harry Potter's jump from MG to YA is rare. It strikes me that visual media (movies, etc) may be a necessity for such a marketing boost.

Here's the thing though. If book one doesn't do that great, why would a publisher pick up book two, much less book ten? It wouldn't be good for business. So all of your dreams hinge on that first book.

This isn't to say you can't execute your other ideas. Even if book one fairs poorly, you can change the next book up so it uses new characters in a different world (unless the world is this one) and sell it. Just take it one book at a time.

#6 - July 16, 2019, 08:39 PM
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Interesting.  Thanks for the feed back. There seems to be a lot of different challenges with going with the traditional publishing route. I'll have to think about this further.

A few of you mentioned the challenges transitioning to different book levels. This journey started for me as a way for me to write books for my son who is 4 yrs old and using the same characters in each stage of books as he get older.  Its a daunting task where everything I write has an effect on later stories. Things I create in a PB like say an invention can be used in an older adventure book later on. It is all part of a greater Science Fantasy mythos.

These books are not just for my son and other kids. They are also for the geek culture parents. Trust me I know how this all sounds and I know how tough the journey will be.
#7 - July 17, 2019, 04:26 AM

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These books are not just for my son and other kids. They are also for the geek culture parents. Trust me I know how this all sounds and I know how tough the journey will be.

I love the idea of this, speaking as a geek culture parent. One step at a time, whatever step you decide to take next. Good luck.
#8 - July 17, 2019, 09:59 PM
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