Saturday, October 25, 2008

Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood

I've spent the past 10+ hours tediously reading and taking notes on self publishing. Then I logged in to Blogspot to check for some blogs on publishing children's books and came across your blog. Now, I really don't want to self publish! I'm hoping you can help me find a resolution.
+10 points for realizing you don't want to self-publish.
total=10 points
Here's the deal: I've written an Early Reader children's book and my boyfriend (who is a professional Graphic Artist) illustrated it. I have no idea if my book is good or not. Friends and family who've read it have given positive reviews and even bought a few copies. I'm a nanny and have brought it with to the kids I care for who also seem to love it. But, ever the skeptic, I'm still not sure if I have something or not since I know I can't really rely on what those close to me are saying.
+20 points for realizing your friends and family cannot be relied upon to tell you the truth and/or know what will sell in the children's book market.
total=30 points
I've looked into how to go about submitting manuscripts to get the book published, but I've found that publishers want manuscripts without illustrations. This is where my problem lies. I understand that each publishing house has a certain style and most prefer to pair an author with an illustrator.
+50 points for doing the research that tells you this about publishing.
total=80 points

total points needed for possible authorhood: 500
But my boyfriend and I came up with everything together... the illustrations were created based on the story and parts of the story were inspired by the pictures. I don't think it's right to separate the two, which is why I've been looking into self publishing. Will this stubbornness on my end prevent my book from ever becoming published (sans self publishing)?
If it's possible to still submit my book, what is the proper way to go about doing so while requesting his illustrations? Should I send everything compiled as I have it or type the manuscript and submit a few illustrations separately? Is there any guarantee we can keep everything together? I have no problem with editing if that's what the book needs or tweaking the illustrations. I have no problem with putting in the work required to compile queries and submit them to publishers - it's just breaking us up that I can't do.
If you feel the text must be paired with his illustrations, you should say so in your cover letter. Bear in mind that this may be a reason for instant rejection at some houses. The chances that both your writing and your boyfriend's illustration are professional quality seem slim at this point, but perhaps they are. If the most important thing to you is keeping the text and illustration together, then do that. If the most important thing to you is getting this published, then split them up.

You'll have noticed that you still lack some points in my brand-new rating system. The steps left for you to do are:

+20 points: For knowing you need to keep researching, and keep researching, and keep researching. The researching never ends, because publishing never stops changing.

+100 points: For joining a critique group or in other ways connecting yourself firmly with a wider group of writers (like the SCBWI).

+300 points: For putting aside your first, beloved project and realizing that your first effort is almost certainly not your best work. Write some more, and some more, and some more, and realize that you'll love your later projects just as much... and they'll likely be better deserving of your love.


Anonymous said...

"...your first effort is almost certainly not your best work."

Aint it the truth!

Kate Lord Brown said...

Tough love. But great advice. In these chilly times, early manuscripts at least make great insulation.

Chris Eldin said...

LOL! The most points given to a trunk novel.

Merry Monteleone said...

Wow, if I go by your system, I've hit adulthood! Now just to convince an agent...

Judy said...

Good advice,and maybe save that first one with the pictures until later after being published without.

That said, I have run across some smaller companies who actually WANT only books with illustrations, so that is still a possibility.

Jill Murray said...

Different situation but perhaps relevant:

When I submitted the MS for my novel to my editor, I casually included an illustration on the bottom of the stack, and some samples of my own art. This eventually led to that illustrator being commissioned to illustrate the cover of the novel, and to the publisher inviting me to create small illustrations to decorate my chapter numbers. I was really pleasantly shocked by that though. No one expected it, I never asked verbally, and it was never promised. The new cover illustration just landed in my inbox one happy happy day.

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