Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Note to Aspiring Illustrators

An illustration student emailed me recently asking for advice on getting her work published. I've been in the industry for less than a decade and am by no means an expert, but I can say with certainty that there's no magic formula for instant publishing success. The trick isn't about making good work, it's about getting that good work noticed by the right people. Challenging, but not impossible. Here are some of the things I encouraged her to do:

Maintain a web presence. 

Don't be hard to find. Have a blog, website, or digital platform that shows your best work. Keep it current.

Send postcard mailers to art directors and editors. 

I'm not the only art director who loves getting postcards in the mail. I keep them for reference when I'm hiring for new projects. Don't be afraid to send updated mailers every couple of months—just remember to include your website and contact info so we can find you.

My postcard drawer.

Get involved in the industry.

Stay current on what's happening in the industry and make as many connections as you can. Organizations like SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) help aspiring and even established illustrators connect with folks in the publishing world. Other organizations like the CBC (Children's Book Council) and the Society of Illustrators will offer helpful insights, too. Don't work in a vacuum, get out there and see what other illustrators are doing.

Consider representation from an agent. 

Most publishers don't accept unsolicited manuscripts or project pitches. Hiring an agent is a little like jumping to the front of the line: It doesn't guarantee success, but you'll have a better chance of getting your work in front of the right people. Good agents have strong working relationships with editors and art directors and know the kind of projects those folks might like. Agents are like partners, find someone you connect with and who understands your work. They will be your second biggest advocate. You should be your first.

Most importantly: Be persistent and patient. 

Getting published rarely—and I mean rarely!—happens overnight. Be persistent. Be patient. Be kind. Repeat.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Maria! I bookmarked your blog a long time ago and just rediscovered your recent posts. Wonderful advice for both new and experienced illustrators. Hope you are doing well and enjoy the holidays!

    Joan Waites/Mid-Atlantic SCBWI coordinator