This is the second instalment in my six week series called
Picture Books: Making It Count
I hope you find some interesting tips here. Thanks for reading!
Jill Carter-Hansen, Illustrator of Bearly There
(Windy Hollow Books, 2013)
Part 2: How Do I Find An Illustrator For My Picture Book?
For those seeking commercial publication, one thing that holds them back is the belief that they need to find and pay for an artist to illustrate their work before they submit it to a publisher.
Whenever I run a picture book course or speak to beginner writers, one of the first questions I’m asked is ‘Where I can find an illustrator for my picture book?’.
This is a common misconception people have when they’re starting out.
Unless you’re thinking of self-publishing, the task of finding an illustrator is undertaken by the publisher.
Publishers work with several, if not many, illustrators. They may even have a ‘stable’ of illustrators who they regularly employ on projects, whether they are picture books, chapter books or book covers.
Authors may not even know the illustrator who is commissioned to work on their picture book. I’ve worked on a book where the illustrations were done by two manga artists living in Japan.
Fangs was a full-colour illustrated chapter book
(a little unusual - chapter books normally have B&W illustrations).
The drawings were done by a Japanese manga group called Gurihiru.
Other books I’ve worked on have involved illustrators who live in different states. Our only correspondence has been via email or sometimes telephone. Sometimes not at all. In other cases, I’ve known the illustrator before they’ve signed onto the project or met them afterwards and become firm friends with them. We’ve even held joint events to launch or promote our new picture book.
Different types of relationships will evolve on different projects. This is all normal.
The publisher or editor will act as the middle-man or conduit for the relationship. They will manage the editing of both the text and the illustrations, passing on information or queries or feedback. This may seem a strange process to some, but the practice is conducted industry-wide and from my experience it works well because it allows each party their own creative freedom.
What the publisher does want to see from an author is fresh, clever, original words. And usually words alone. Your words have to stand out. They have to SING.
It wasn't until well and truly after our book, Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine, had been published that the illustrator and I actually got to meet. I live in QLD and Shane McGrath lives in VIC, so we were separated by geography. We spoke on the phone and via email quite a lot throughout the book creation process, however.
For those of you interested in writing or illustrating picture books, I thought you might be interested in this series of articles I'll be publishing over the next six weeks called
Picture Books: Making It Count
Picture books are one of the most popular children's book formats to write, but they're not always easy to master. Learning the craft of writing a picture book can take years. It's a good thing we all enjoy the process so much and that the rewards of publication make it all worth it!
Puggle's Problem was my first ever book,
and my first ever picture book, to be released.
(Wombat Books, 2010)
Part 1: The Magic of Picture Books
There’s something magical about picture books.
I view them as the Zen of children’s writing, as works of art, the fusion of two independent creators combining words and images to produce a lasting impact, a statement about the world or those creatures who inhabit it.
I create picture books because I love to play with words and rhythm and rhyme.
I create picture books because I love to write stories that enchant this younger age group.
And, I have to admit, I create picture books because of pure and unadulterated selfishness.
Sure, I create every story with a design and a desire to share it with others. To impassion. To entertain. To teach. To evoke.
But deep down, one of the key reasons I write picture book stories is because I know that one day, if the planets align and I manage to score some luck on my side, then I will have the heady pleasure of seeing my words brought to life by a skilled artist.
Warambi was my second picture book.
It was shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownell Award and
the Wildernress Society Award for Children's Literature.
(Working Title Press, 2011)
For someone whose drawing prowess extends only to stick figures illustrations, the joy I feel when I hold one of my picture books for the first time is immense. It’s like I’ve been handed a precious gift.
There’s no way I could bring to life the images of my story that exist in my mind. I couldn’t function as a picture book creator without the help of the talented artists and designers I work with. Admittedly, they need my words to provide the scaffolding for the story. But without their pictures, my words are lifeless on the page.
Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine is my latest picture book release.
It came from a passion for thylacines, a desire to tell their story from their POV and a hope, a dream, that they might still be out there.