Publishing as author and illustrator



  • Re: The Life Cycle of a Children's Book

    At the beginning of the episode "lifecycle of a children's book" y'all mentioned that the publishing process as just an illustrator, vs author/illustrator were a bit different and y'all would go over both, but in the end you only covered publishing as an illustrator. I was wondering if you could explain briefly the difference? Especially since you extol the virtues of being a creator, and bit just a "hired gun".
    As simply an illustrator y'all said that you are contacted by the publisher who has the manuscript already made, sees if it would work for you, on various different points, to work on the project. After the timeline is set and the contract signed you get some money and work on the sketches for the whole book. You send the sketches. They tell you to change them. You change them and do the final sketches, which you send to them and they tell you to change them. They you do one spread (completed in the style) and send it to them. They ask you to change it, you do, and you finish out the rest of the book illustrations and send them the final files eventually.

    If you were the writer illustrator would you send your agent to publishers with a finished book? Or do you submit your manuscript and follow the same route and hope they think your art is a good match for the story?

    I am wondering if the two routes are different and if so, how different they are because it seems to me that it couldn't be as simple as "here is this thing I made" and they publish it exactly as is. But on the other hand it could mess up the project or be disheartening if they wanted major tweaks-- you would have to basically restart ....

    I made a timeline for myself to make my first illustrated book, as a project for my portfolio and your episode got me thinking. Anyone with experience or insight?
    Thanks a lot for your time 😃🙏


  • Pro

    @Rachel-Realme From what I understand, authors (or author illustrators) need to send their manuscripts to literary agents. If an agent likes your work, they will sign you for representation and work with you on editing your book dummy to be most appealing to publishers. The agent will then shop the manuscript/dummy around, trying to get a publisher to pick it up. If a publisher picks it up, then their editor will work with you to make any changes they feel is necessary to the manuscript. Once the manuscript is ready, that's when the publisher would typically hire an illustrator and the process would be as described by the guys.

    But if the author also wants to illustrate and the publisher thinks that the art style/quality would be a suitable fit for the manuscript, then the author-illustrator will then continue the work as illustrator just as discussed in the podcast. Basically the illustration part, from what I understand, is the same. But if you're writing you also have to do the whole author part beforehand, which is very difficult. It is my understanding that getting a manuscript picked up by a publisher is a lot more difficult than simply getting hired as an illustrator.


  • SVS OG

    @Rachel-Realme hi Rachel. My current agent also represents author-illustrators and have been encouraging us illustrators to write our own books as well. I asked them about what I should send when making submissions and they advised me to prepare the following:

    1. Blurb/Synopsis - short description of your book
    2. Manuscript- your book
    3. Book Dummy - rough sketches of your entire book
    4. 2-3 Finished illustrations

    Once you have the following, the agent will help you improve your book, tweaking the story, dummy, and illustrations. Once they’re satisfied, they’ll send the requirements listed above around to publishers. If a publisher picks your book, they will most likely want to tweak it some more. And after that your book is off to publishing.

    I hope this was helpful.



  • @NessIllustration wow thanks, that is very helpful. I didn't know that the literary agents worked like that or were so helpful. Thanks for the insight and advice, I'll think about that while making this book for my portfolio 😃



  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz thank you as well, the prep list you provided is very helpful. I will be sure to take notes and incorporate what I've learned into my timeline for this personal project ☺☺☺☺


  • Pro

    @Rachel-Realme There are a few publishers that accept submissions directly from authors. You can do a google search to find those! But from what I understand most publishers only accept submissions through literary agents, so you almost don't have a choice to get one. Just getting an agent is a very hard first step O__O Honestly the publishing process sounds daunting to me, I'm almost relieved I'm just an illustrator!



  • @NessIllustration a lot of kidlit agencies (both illustration and literary agencies do both). They help you find illustration assignment and they also help you to develop your own manuscript. my agent does that (Plum pudding) does that, so does a few others: The CAT, Painted-word, T2, and many others. As far as my research goes (correct me if I am wrong) that most of the literary agencies only take illustrators who has a strong interests in writing, and plan to develop their own stories.

    Also, I remember when I was reaching agencies last year, sometimes it was not easy to tell which agency is a literary agency, and which is more of an illustration agency.


  • Pro

    @xin-li That's good to know!!