Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Art of Choosing Illustration

On Thursday, February 11, 2010, In Memoriam, your blog says, "The story suggests some unusually good visuals - animation, in fact - though I have learned I should not bother with illustration before submission for publication." "That is correct."
But on Monday, November 23, 2009, In Which the Cockles of My Heart are Reasonably Tepid, your blog states, "They submit illustrated manuscripts, and the editor doesn't look at them and think, "Well, we'll get that illustrated by someone better." She thinks, "This is essentially done! Awesome!"

It appears it's a double edged sword. I'm curious because I'm a profession video producer. I have produced videos for 8 years now and I have a lot of marketing experience too. I have basically learned that you have a finished project and THEN you pitch it. But I have also included in my submissions a letter stating I'm completely open to having different illustrations done. What say ye?
Professional-quality illustrations are acceptable, and including a note that you're willing to be flexible about them is a good idea. The reason I generally caution against pairing a text with art is that the VAST majority of people have no access to professional-quality illustration, and don't know enough about the CHILDREN'S book industry to know what flys. Do you, for instance, know someone who does great animation for Pixar? Their static art may be a bad fit because they're not used to art being static. Do you know a fabulous cartoonist who appears in the New Yorker regularly? Their cartoons may be a bad fit because they're too adult in flavor.

On top of these considerations, it's just unnecessary! Editors acquire unillustrated manuscripts all the time!

There are some children's book agents -- and others who know our industry well -- who are good at matching art and text. To my readers, my advice is: if you just think you can do this well, you're wrong. The people who can do it well know it.


Josh said...

I cannot count how many times I've had people show me the 'illustrations' for the children's book they have written. It's hard to be tactful when the art is so atrocious (Sorry, being an illustrator, I find this kind of obnoxious). I wonder, could an editor be turned off of a story because of the horrendous art done by an author?

Sergio Ruzzier said...

Sometimes, pre-published authors contact me (a pre-Caldecott winning illustrator) with a picture book manuscript, asking if I want to illustrate it. Of course I would want to spend weeks on someone else's story, which was not professionally edited and has very slim or no chances of being published, creating characters and settings, making a dummy, while putting aside any other projects I might have on my desk!

Jan said...

I reviewed a self-published picture book some years ago which demonstrated wonderfully why you can't just go grab a talented painter/artist and assume the person will be a good illustrator. The illustrations all showed merit (especially compared to most self-published picture books) but the artist flatly could not carry a likeness through all the action of the book. The main characters were very inconsistently rendered and a publisher wouldn't have touched them...even though they were very nice pictures when viewed individually with lots of action and energy.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

When I create a dummy, I tend to do detailed drawings... Once an editor at a distinguished house passed because my character's eyes were *too* expressive. (I was writer/illustrator)

Lesson #1, I guess? turn in pages with generalized scratches on 'em, so the editor can imagine anything they want.
Lesson #2, this business be-fuddled!

To see what was deemed *too expressive eyes* go to -

In my gallery... scroll to Pic of Marlin, sea turtle and dolphins caught in fishing net!

I dunno... I just dunno. Are they *too expressive?*

Haste yee back ;-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the clarification. I agree, leave it up to the professionals and not "Daddy with a crayon".

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Sorry, link to above is...

if interested!

Haste yee back ;-)

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