I was just having a look at your website and the amazing artwork you've produced.
My wife recently suggested that I should approach a publisher in regard to some children's
rhymes and stories that I wrote for my kids.
I thought I would try picking the brain of an experienced illustrator first if that's OK? I don't know much about publishing but noticed that most children's books are a collaboration between writer and illustrator, is this correct?
If so, would a publisher normally put the 2 parties together or could the writer and illustrator approach a publisher as a partnership in the first instance?
I realise you are a busy person and probably inundated with work offers but if you get a minute to reply it would be much appreciated.
Nice to hear from you.
You are right in thinking the publisher will match up a suitable illustrator to a children's
manuscript when they buy it from the writer. The writer never has to submit her manuscript with sketches or illustrations that she has commissioned privately - it would be very costly for her and more importantly, may discourage a publisher from looking at her text seriously - it's just not how it works.
The publisher's are very used to looking at submitted manuscripts without pictures - in fact they prefer it unless the author is also a professional illustrator - and are good at visualizing what illustrator
they should hire to compliment the text. They tend to 'know best', although would obviously not want to pick an illustrator the writer would not be happy with. It is not unusual for the author and
illustrator to not even meet. After a manuscript has been accepted and an illustrator has been selected, the author and illustrator are paid 50%-50% of the fee. Then the illustrator starts work, often it's a bit
of a three-way team effort involving the illustrator and the publisher's editor and designer. By this stage the author is probably off working on her new manuscript!
But as I say, some professional illustrators also write their own manuscripts (like me).
The best advice I can give you in order to give your manuscripts the best possible chance with a publisher are:
- Do your homework! Children's publishing is incredibly competitive, most of the creators have special training and the publishers are quite strict - every sentence is reviewed in detail, in fact every comma. As
well as the overall plot. They will need you to show something unique as well as a love for and awareness of modern children's picture books so do spend several pleasurable research days at your library and book shop armed with pen and paper. Who publishes stuff similar to yours? How many pages is a normal picture book? (32 is industry
standard.) What is the language like? How many words in total should a children's picture book manuscript be? (under 1000 is ideal, spread over 12 double page spreads.)
- Get a copy of this book. It is basically a catalogue of all UK children's publishers, plus lots of priceless advice on how to submit your texts.
Best of luck in this very rewarding but demanding endeavour!