019: Consider the Illustrator

Consider the Illustrator

Are you being a good partner?

September 30, 2016

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Listener Question of the Week:

Sue asks:

How do I know if I have a story that's worth publishing?

Listen to the episode for the answer!

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These tips come from notes taken at a Writer's Retreat several years ago when the wonderful illustrator Brian Lies helped us gain an illustrator's eye view:

* Think about how things look as you write.

Sometimes we writers choose creatures for a story based on how funny they sound to our ear. We might giggle at the idea of an elephant who goes to live with a family of mice––but think for a minute about the job of the illustrator. How big is an elephant? How big is a mouse? How do we make them both fit on a page? Are we saddling the illustrator with choosing between showing the whole elephant (and little dots of mice) or showing the whole mouse (and just the tip of the elephant's trunk or perhaps a toe).

* Consider little things that make illustrations interesting.

It might be interesting to read a story that is a conversation between two kids––but after the first illustration, it's pretty dull to draw it. Keep the characters moving --new actions, new places, and new times of day can go a long way to making the story look good.

For more tips on how to be a good partner with your illustrator, listen to the podcast. Also, a comprehensive list of the length of children's books from board books to YA novels to magazine article is discussed in this week's episode.

Download the show notes for a handy guide on word count!


Katie Davis
October 10, 2016

Vanessa, Especially since you feel such a kinship, I'm so sorry, but Deborah Warren is not one of the people accepting submissions from Picture Book Summit attendees. To answer your question of it seeming pointless to have her at Picture Book Summit unless she was accepting––the point was to represent the perspectives of multiple agents, including one like her who is well-established. The point also was to share information and give you access to her knowledge and her answers to questions we knew many, if not most, attendees would want. As wonderful as Deborah is, there are many agents out there, and I feel confident you will come across others with whom you feel a kinship!

Katie Davis
October 10, 2016

Alicia, would mind calling in your questions to http://writingforchildren.com/speak so more people can benefit from the answers? Thanks! SO appreciated!

Vanessa Gates Miller
October 6, 2016

Dear Katie, I have a question that I am dying to have you answer about Deborah Warren from the Picture Book Summit. I don't have any other way of getting an answer from anyone, so I'm really hoping you will get back to me at your convenience. I fell in love with Deborah Warren when I watched the interviews. She has the heart I am looking for in an agent. Plus, my manuscripts fit her criteria so well. I hope (pray) she will accept me as a client. The problem is she only takes clients who are exclusively referred. It seems pointless to have an interview on the picture book summit if she is not accepting our submissions. So I am confused at this point. Will she accept submissions from picture book summit attendees? Are we now considered referred? Please help me know if I can submit to her as she is someone I feel deeply connected to now and have a passion to work with. I would be so lucky to be agented by her. You are always so helpful, I was hoping you would be willing to help me out on this issue. You can reach me at Vanessagatesmiller@gmail.com or Vanessagmwriter@gmail.com. I check them both throughout the day. Warmly, Vanessa Gates Miller

alicia minor
October 2, 2016

From reading some of my writing colleagues manuscripts, they include their own art suggestions in the manuscript itself. Is this a good practice since we all know that each artist has each own job/role in the making of a picture book? You write, she/he illustrates. Are there cases when authors chip in their own suggestions? What if the author is not satisfied with the illustrations? I guess an agreement/solution should be reached between two parties before the go signal. There are so many conflicting questions out there that float around. If I should reach that stage/situation, I guess the best thing to do is to trust the illustrator and everybody is happy.

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