Good Monday, everyone! (Doesn’t that sound like something Shakespeare would say?)
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the need for an extra dose of cuteness this morning, since things have not been going according to plan of late, so how about this?
I feel much better now! You?
I could do this all day, but that would probably not be considered productive 🙂
Now then, I hope you’re all going to take note of how efficient and brief I am today, so that I can get to work finishing my
gakawful mss for NaPiBoWriWee. Ready? GO!
First, it’s time for the April Pitch Pick.
Here’s the refresher:
#2 Rebecca C
Please vote below for your favorite by Wednesday May 9 at 11:59 PM EDT:
Now then, today’s Oh Susanna question comes to us from Tracy and actually has a couple of layers to address.
Here is her question:
My children’s book manuscript (early reader) is one where the characters are kids who also happen to be food. (You may remember this from my Would You Read It pitch in October). There’s Pizza, Juice Box, Cake, Waffle, Cereal, Bratwurst (he’s a bully), Lemon Chiffon (fashionista with an attitude), Cinnamon, and Apple. I’m working with a book coach who is suggesting that I grab pictures of food to include with the MS so that an editor understands that this is not a joke and takes my submission seriously. I looked online and I don’t like any of the illustrations and while I still need to look in magazines, those images will not have arms and legs and look like kids. My question is: I’d like to sent out a tweet or blog post request to illustrators in my online community and ask if anyone wanted to make some rough sketches. I can’t promise or offer any compensation or even promise that those comps would be used in final production. Is it fair to ask illustrators to help?
In answer to the main question, “Is it fair to ask illustrators to help?” I would say, yes, it is fair to ask as long as you are up front with potential illustrators about what the project is and exactly what is involved. I think you might have a hard time getting anyone to do it, though. If an illustrator is going to work for you, she/he should be paid for their talent, expertise, and time – it’s not professional to ask them to work for free. If by helping you out their work is going to be seen by an editor, potentially opening some doors for them, that might be enough payment for some, or it might help reduce the payment for others. But I think if you want someone to provide you with the kind of custom illustrations that are going to help you sell your work, you should offer to pay them something. It can be work-for-hire, you can make an agreement as to who owns the rights, but I think you should at least offer some payment. (Please see Oh Susanna – How Do You Find And Pay For Illustrators? for a further discussion of getting illustrations.)
That said, your question raises some other questions for me:
First, why wouldn’t an editor take your work seriously in the first place? If you’ve done a good job writing your story, it should be clear that you’ve personified food as characters. Your dialogue and story problem should help make it clear that the food characters are children. Editors have good imaginations. They read picture book and early reader manuscripts all the time and they are accustomed to visualizing what illustrations would be like. If your story is strong, the editor shouldn’t need visual cues. If it’s not strong enough, visual cues won’t save it.
In addition, unless you are a professional illustrator yourself, I think you’ll find that most editors react negatively to an author sending art with their manuscript. To my knowledge, editors want to read your manuscript and envision the type of art they think would suit it, and then choose the illustrator themselves.
I’m not a book coach, but I’m not really sure what you would accomplish by following this suggestion.
I think you would be better off writing the best story you can write, trusting your editor’s intelligence and judgment, and letting your submission stand on it’s own merit. If you feel your story is strong but it’s still not clear, put a brief explanation in your cover letter.
I would really like to hear from readers, though, as to what they think about this issue. Do you agree with the book coach, or with me, or do you think something else all together? Collectively, there is a lot of experience with submission in this readership, so please share your thoughts to help Tracy out with her dilemma!
Have a great day, everyone!