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artistic76
08-07-2009, 06:54 PM
Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to read this post - I need your advice!

Two months ago, I attempted to illustrate a children's book with my art, using abstract art techniques filled with bright colors. It's about a character I created and based on a journey. I've heard great compliments from those I've shown it to, and they suggested that I make every effort to get it published. That lifted my spirits a bit and so much so, that I even stated doing a follow-up to the book, one that is almost done. This second book runs 12 pages, full of illustrations, and one - two sentence dialogue describing the illustrations. Primarily for kids 6 month - about 5 years old, maybe a few years older for those who can read by themselves.

I did some research and found this publisher online, based in NYC. The website for that company, indicated some "guidelines' as in an outline, of a proposal, what they look for and so on. Such things as "who will read your book," "age group," "competitors," Why should we publish the book," "why did you write this book," and so on. Now, for a 10 page book, with one - two sentence dialogue, I manged to complete a 24 page proposal, again, based on those guidelines. I called up the company and was given a contact name.

So I mail it to the contact name, only to get it returned to me three weeks later, with a RTS sticker. Now, I don't know if I addressed it wrong (this pub. co. has only one address), or I don't know if the name I was given was not really the correct person (I called asking for the children's dept), or plainly, simply lied to, or maybe that, in fact, they don't accept unsolicited mail - something, though, NOT indicated on the website.

In any case, I don't want to give up. Like I said, the reason why I sent the whole proposal, was because the site does indicate they accept it. So, here's my thinking:

1. Do I send, now, a simple query letter to this person? Along with that, I will print out a few illustrations on the second page, just for her to get some idea of what my work. I think it'll help show my work and what I'll be talking about. All this in a #10 envelope with a reply card. Or,

2. Do I try this other publisher, one that states they accept query letters only, that they take 3 - 4 months to respond to? Now with this one, I have an Associate Publisher contact name, and two exective editor names. Do you address it to an editor or an associate publisher? I don't know.

3. Or, do I just look into finding a literary agent if I want to be serious about this? I really believe in my ideas and I think they will be impressed.

Thoughts? What do I do? I have a 01 bachelor's in business, but this is what I really want to build a career on. I'm also submitting works to greeting cards companies, one that said my work was not really what their line is looking for, but told me to resubmit work based on their line & they'll consider it. Any advice, please!

CACTUSWENDY
08-07-2009, 07:09 PM
You might want to go by the newbee part and say hi.

Welcome to AW. Hope you enjoy your stay with us.

How do you like your popcorn?

You also might want to search the threads as there are lots of stuff about your questions.

ETA: I looked in the forum jump and could not find the area you need. Maybe one of the others can link you to it.

I am sure some AWers will be by and also drop some nuggets in your lap. I wish you wonderful success with your books. I bet you are excited.

suki
08-07-2009, 07:14 PM
Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to read this post - I need your advice!

Two months ago, I attempted to illustrate a children's book with my art, using abstract art techniques filled with bright colors. It's about a character I created and based on a journey. I've heard great compliments from those I've shown it to, and they suggested that I make every effort to get it published. That lifted my spirits a bit and so much so, that I even stated doing a follow-up to the book, one that is almost done. This second book runs 12 pages, full of illustrations, and one - two sentence dialogue describing the illustrations. Primarily for kids 6 month - about 5 years old, maybe a few years older for those who can read by themselves.

I did some research and found this publisher online, based in NYC. The website for that company, indicated some "guidelines' as in an outline, of a proposal, what they look for and so on. Such things as "who will read your book," "age group," "competitors," Why should we publish the book," "why did you write this book," and so on. Now, for a 10 page book, with one - two sentence dialogue, I manged to complete a 24 page proposal, again, based on those guidelines. I called up the company and was given a contact name.

So I mail it to the contact name, only to get it returned to me three weeks later, with a RTS sticker. Now, I don't know if I addressed it wrong (this pub. co. has only one address), or I don't know if the name I was given was not really the correct person (I called asking for the children's dept), or plainly, simply lied to, or maybe that, in fact, they don't accept unsolicited mail - something, though, NOT indicated on the website.

In any case, I don't want to give up. Like I said, the reason why I sent the whole proposal, was because the site does indicate they accept it. So, here's my thinking:

1. Do I send, now, a simple query letter to this person? Along with that, I will print out a few illustrations on the second page, just for her to get some idea of what my work. I think it'll help show my work and what I'll be talking about. All this in a #10 envelope with a reply card. Or,

2. Do I try this other publisher, one that states they accept query letters only, that they take 3 - 4 months to respond to? Now with this one, I have an Associate Publisher contact name, and two exective editor names. Do you address it to an editor or an associate publisher? I don't know.

3. Or, do I just look into finding a literary agent if I want to be serious about this? I really believe in my ideas and I think they will be impressed.

Thoughts? What do I do? I have a 01 bachelor's in business, but this is what I really want to build a career on. I'm also submitting works to greeting cards companies, one that said my work was not really what their line is for, but told me to resubmit work based on they'll line & they'll consider it. Any advice, please!

Ok, before taking any further action, it's time to consider your primary intrests and to do some research.

I do not recognize the company you referenced, or whether they are legitimate, but your description raises some concerns because they do not sound like a commercial, trade publisher.

Now, what is your primarly goal for the book? Do you just want it available in print for friends and family, etc., to purchase? OR are you interested in some kind of long term career as a picture book (pb) illustrator and/or author?

If it is the first, there are reputable self-publishing options - check out the self-publishing forum.

If, however, you want to pursue illustration or pb writing professionally, you need to educate yourself on the market and expectations, and then, if you think your book(s) fit the expectations, research publishers and/or agents that represent pb authors and illustrators

PBs published by commercial trade publishers follow a very specific format - usually 32 pages, with specific requirements for text and illustration layout.

You also need to look more carefully at the target age range - there are books with widespread appeal to kids of various ages, but it's somewhat rare to see a book pitched as for kids "6 month - about 5 years old, maybe a few years older..." because books for beginning readers, for 4-6 year olds, are generally different than books for 6 month olds.

I suggest going over to the childrens thread and reading up on picture books. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=11

You can also Google picture book illustration and writing, read up on blogs about the process and expectations.

You might also want to post the text for your book in the Childrens sub-forum in the Share Your Work forum.

If you are serious about doing this professionally, go to the bookstore or library and read every picture book published by the trade publishers in the last 5 years, paying special attention to the award winners - ie, Caldecott medal.

Then, join SCBWI - Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators, where you can make connections with other writers and illustrators, and get industry info and info on conferences, etc.

Again, if you just want the books printed, do check out the self-publishing forum for reputable avenues.

But if you are interested in mainstream, professional publishing, roll up your sleeves for some serious research.

good luck.

~suki

artistic76
08-07-2009, 07:35 PM
Hi,

Thanks for your reply. With regards to the age group, no I simply mentioned that age for this board's sake, for you to get some idea of what age I a talking about. I did not state it in those terms on my proposal.

No, I am not thinking just to publish it for just family and friends. I am not interested in self publishing, as I have heard quite a few negative experiences from that. I am really looking to make a serious attempt at this book because I do believe it has promise.

To be a little more specific, it is along the lines of the Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. in terms of illustrations, but mine is centered specifically on a character.

suki
08-07-2009, 07:51 PM
Hi,

Thanks for your reply. With regards to the age group, no I simply mentioned that age for this board's sake, for you to get some idea of what age I a talking about. I did not state it in those terms on my proposal.

No, I am not thinking just to publish it for just family and friends. I am not interested in self publishing, as I have heard quite a few negative experiences from that. I am really looking to make a serious attempt at this book because I do believe it has promise.

To be a little more specific, it is along the lines of the Eric Carle and Bill Martin Jr. in terms of illustrations, but mine is centered specifically on a character.

Then it is time for research.

The books described, at 10 and 12 pages, generally do not meet the standard format for picture books published by the commercial trade publishers. You will need to research to what extent pb manuscripts outside the 32-page standard are acceptable. If you envision them as board books, maybe there are other parameters, but it is my understanding that most board books come out of books first published in standard format.

I would suggest starting in the library/bookstore and looking at what was published by the large, trade publishers for the last few years. Take notes as you read - publisher names and imprint names, things about the illustrations and text that stand out, how many pages, how many of those pages have tex, how many double page spreads and their placement, what kind of text (and wordcount), etc.

If your illustrations and text are comparable to what you see in the bookstore/library, then join SCBWI and start researching specific publishers and/or agents.

And there are text-less picture books, but they are less common. The master of them is David Wiesner.

A regional SCBWI conference might be a great step for you - you'd get to meet other writers and illustrators, and editors and agents, and get more info on publishing. But that step should come after you've done your reading and made the decision this is the right move for you.

Few agents rep picture book illustartors and authors because of the relatively little money they can expect to reap from a deal (small advances for picture books), but there are some, and author/illustrators sometimes are more attractive.

Agents can be researched here in the Beware and Background checks forum, and elsewhere on AgentQuery and PublishersMarketplace and other sites.

The Verla Kay boards are specifically geared toward publishing for children (I think).

And there are many other online resources for researching publishers and agents for pb publishing. But you will have to do that research.

SCBWI might be your best starting point, if you are sure this is something you want to pursue.

If not, start in the Writing for Kids forum or the childrens sub-forum in Share Your Work, for some idea of what this site has to offer.

ETA: This board can help you with critique of your text, or in research/sharing information about specific publishers and agents. But you still need to actually research those agents and publishers. If you think you might want an agent, start with agentquery.com and look up agents who rep pb authors and illustrators (ones who list author/illustrators are looking for people who write and illustrate their own books). Then go to the bewares and background thread forum here, and read up on them. Make a list of your top choices based on this research. Then draft a query, and post in the query letters sub-forum in Share Your Work for critique of the query (there are how to and guideline threads in there, too, because it is not a lengthy proposal but a one page pitch).

But before you start querying agents or editors, it is important to make sure your work is ready. That you know what those agents and editors will expect (ie, how will they see your illustrations? will you sned them hard copies? or scan them and post them on a webpage where agents can go look?). That's where the research comes in, the critiques in Share Your Work, and reading other books, etc...

good luck.

~suki

artistic76
08-07-2009, 09:11 PM
Hi,

Thanks again for the reply. I will consider SCBWI - I think it is $40 to become a member, or something like this.

Oh, I am sorry, with regards to the pages, it is 10 text and ten illustrations, a total 20. As a result, I picture the book rectangular, with the text on the left, describing the illustration on the right. It looks nice in person, whereas the way I'm describing it in writing may be difficult to explain.

However, just your opinion, you say I should not submit my query to the publishing company I have? Even though it does state they accept query letters?

roseangel
08-08-2009, 01:44 AM
What's the name of the publisher?

Cyia
08-08-2009, 05:56 AM
What Suki said.

Commercial publishers for PB use the 32 page standard (this includes the illustrated pages as well as title page, and copyright info, etc, so it's not 32 pictures.)

IF a book is exceptional, then a publisher might go with a 24 page format or a 40 page format, but for a real - legitimate - publisher it will always be a multiple of 8. That's the way the pages fold, and 32 is the Max. # of pages per sheet, so it's the most economical (24 wastes paper and 40 requires double the cost... and wastes paper)

IF a publisher is offering to take you on at your word count, CHECK THEM OUT From what I've seen here, vanity publishers will perfect bind PB's of any length, but they're not going to be on shelves.

Most of the time publishers DO NOT want to see your illustrations, only your text. They have their own stables of illustrators with whom they are familiar and prefer to rely on them.

Find legit publishing houses and send them the full manuscript (unless they say otherwise, like some of Penguin's imprints). They'll let you know if they're interested or not.

suki
08-08-2009, 06:49 AM
Hi,

Oh, I am sorry, with regards to the pages, it is 10 text and ten illustrations, a total 20. As a result, I picture the book rectangular, with the text on the left, describing the illustration on the right. It looks nice in person, whereas the way I'm describing it in writing may be difficult to explain.

What Cyia said - the format you describe is still non-standard for professional trade publishers. Might not be a deal breaker, but may make it harder to sell as is.

And I still think you need to go look at every picture published in the last several years by the major publishers so you can begin to see the formats and expectations.



However, just your opinion, you say I should not submit my query to the publishing company I have? Even though it does state they accept query letters?

I don't know. I don't know what company it is. But even if you listed the name, I probably still wouldn't recognize it if it wasn't one of the large, trade publishers.

You should research them - go to the Beware and Background Check forum. Use the search tool at the top of the page to search for references on AW to the company. Look them up on Preditors and Editors. See what others say about them.

But, again, I don't think you will really be in a position to know your options until you know how your work stacks up against what is being published.

I'm not trying to be difficult or vague, but there are no short cuts to you doing your own research.

And Cyia is also correct that it will be harder to sell the book if you will only sell it with your illustrations, but that is your decision. If you are ok with it taking longer or not at all, but only want it published if it has your illustrations, then go for it. But, Cyia's right that the large publishers usually like to choose a professional illustrator. But, again, research how your illustrations compare to the market and make that decision.

good luck.

~suki