Thursday 17 March 2011

Illustrating Children's Books Part 3: a Foot in the Door?

Following last year's words of wisdom (!) about putting together a portfolio and initial contact with publishers, I thought this too might prove useful to new illustrators.

While I've been waiting for the go-ahead on my roughs, I've put together a few tips about what to expect if you are successful in getting an appointment with a publisher.

Dress code:

It's not like a job interview, so you can put away the suit. Dress normally, but just make sure you are neat and tidy (no ketchup stains on the T shirt...) so you look like you made the effort.

What happens?

Well, it normally lasts 10 - 30 minutes, depending on how busy and how interested they are. They will look through your work and ask you a bit about yourself. It's generally very informal, so try to relax and just be yourself. Be enthusiastic and friendly though. And remember to smile...

...sometimes shyness comes across as unfriendly. Most importantly: only say positive things about your work. If you don't have confidence in it, why should they?


You are still one of many illustrators they will be seeing that week, maybe that day. It is vital that you do not just become a blur with all the others. If you can think of a way to be memorable (in a positive way of course!) that's got to be good...

Another key thing is to have sample work to leave behind, something they can put in a file or, if you are very lucky, pin on their wall. They might make colour copies of your work - this is a good sign (and don't worry: they won't steal your stuff!!).


People ask me if they should get an agent to do all this for them. My advice would be no, not yet. You can learn so much in the early stages from meeting art directors in person and listening to their feedback. Also, until you are published, it can be just as hard to get decent agent as it is to get a publisher - they too are swamped!

If you found this useful, there is also a fair bit of detail about publishing, from an illustrator's perspective, on my blog posts over the past 18 months. It's all hopefully interesting and relevant stuff, but if you want specific advice, here are my hot tips posts.

Plus, don't forget, there are also the videos on my website, talking about how I got started as an illustrator and showing some of what I do.

Now: go knock 'em dead!


Maria said...

Dear Lynne, you are the most generous and inspirational author illustrator I have had the good fortune to come across. Your generosity in sharing your wealth of experience so unselfishly is most appreciated. I am a self published author illustrator whose dream to have my own book published one day only happened when I did it myself aged 55 in 2009.I have never regretted it and am about to make my first real school visit which scares the hell out of me, reading your blog is helping the nerves all I need now is a good dose of your confidence. You can see my book at thanks again Lynne, Maria x

Unknown said...

Great advice Lynne, thank you.

Tammie Lee said...

thank you for sharing your experience and advice with us. I dream of the day I get to present a book.

Diane Young said...

Hello Lynne. I love your site, there is so much interesting info here one visit is simply not enough! It is so lovely to see behind the closed doors of a working illustrator. I have a technical question if you time to reply ... I have seen that you use photoshop to eliminate backgrounds. With so many tools available for this what do you recommend?
Thanks again for sharing with us.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks folks - gald it is proving useful!

Manic Illustrator - I believe I have gone into the background removal thing on a previous post. If you go to the Photoshop tab on the right and scroll through, you should eventually come upon it! It's a combination of tools you need really.

Bethany said...

Thanks Lynne!!! You are the most generous person! I hope all good things come back your way!!!

Caroline said...

Super helpful information - your blog is terrific. Thanks for sharing with us!

Allen jeley said...

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