Every year I get many inquiries from kind folks asking me to illustrate a story they have written. I am honored and touched by these inquiries. Illustrating is what I LOVE to do, and I am privelaged to be in a field where I can create artwork for a living. But there's a lot more to getting a book published than meets the eye, and while I enjoy answering the many emails I receive, it can be a time-consuming process. Therfore I thought it would be helpful to set up an Advice & FAQ page to help first-time authors navigate the often confusing (and tedious) road to getting published. These are actual questions I have received from nice folks looking to publish. I strongly encourage you to read this page if you are an unpublished author looking for an illustator, but also to please do some further research on the internet. I have provided a couple of links at the bottom to get you started. I am by no means an expert on all there is to know about the publishing industry, but perhaps this will help you on your journey to becoming an author.
Q. I've written a story, can you illustrate it for me?
A. Im sorry to say, the short answer is no - but I have a very good reason for this. I always recommend to serious, first-time authors that they send their manuscripts directly to the professional publishing houses for consideration. If you do send your manuscript to a publishing house, you will NOT need an illustrator. Let me repeat that: YOU DO NOT NEED AN ILLUSTRATOR. Should a publisher decide to buy your story, THEY will supply the illustrator. You will not be involved in the process in choosing the illustrator (and you will most likely have very little contact with the illustrator if they decide to publish your book.) Unless you are a writer who is also an illustrator (like me), you will NOT NEED to supply any illustrations or sketches to a professional publisher when submitting you manuscript. Do not waste your money paying an illustrator to create artwork for you, as it will most likely (99.9% of the time) be rejected by the publisher. Concentrate on polishing your maniscript and your query letter and leave the rest to the publisher.
Q. I am planning on self-publishing a children's book, can you illustrate it for me?
A. Again, the short answer is no. Here's the longer answer: I only work with established publishing houses, editors and art directors. Illustrating a book is time consuming work that can take months to complete (6-12 months, depending on the book). The guidance of a professional art director (and/or editor) is ESSENTIAL to creating a beautiful, polished, finished product. Art directors spend many years in the industry honing their skills, and learning what makes a picture book successful. They know when to trust the illustrator to make artistic design decisions regarding layouts. They know when to veto a design decision. They play buffer between the author and illustrator. They manage what is often a complicated, tedious, and long-term process of getting a book to print -from start to finish. I prefer to leave all of the 'managing' in the hands of the professionals, this way I can confidently concentrate on my job as an illustrator.
Q. Can you send my manuscript to the publishers you have contact with?
A. Again, I'm sorry, but I cannot. While I do have a direct line of contact with some publishers, I do not have any special "ins" to getting anyone, including myself, published. In fact, 99.9% of my manuscripts are rejected by publishers, including the publishers I have already worked for. It's an extremely competitive business, and the reality is most people who submit work will get rejected - including established authors.
Here is a great book I recommend to all first-time children's book writers and illustrators. There are many good books out there on getting published, but this one of my favorites. It contains tips and advice on the business, writing query letters, creating marketing material, websites, publishers names and addresses, interviews and more. I buy a copy every year simply because I like to keep tabs on the publishers to see who is or isn't accepting work, or if the editor and/or art directors names have changed, etc. It's really a great resource, please consider picking up a copy.
Here is an article called, 10 Things to Know When Working With An Illustrator
I am in the process of collecting more website links to add to this page. Becoming a writer can be a long, arduous journey- but quite satisfying when you finally see your work in print. Hang in there and keep writing! CHECK BACK SOON FOR LINKS!