I have written a children's book would you illustrate it?

I am sorry but I only work directly with publishers. However, that should not stop you from submitting your manuscript to publishers. It is not necessary for you to find an illustrator before submitting your manuscript to publishers. When a script is taken on, the editor working with the art director will decide what size and shape the book is to be. An artist is then approached, who has the skills to produce the right kind of illustrations, for the budget the publisher has in mind. Far better to leave it the publisher, of course if you like my work and your manuscript is accepted for publication, please feel free to put my name forward as a possible illustrator.

What do you like about your work?

I can get up in the morning and walk straight into my studio. Sitting down at either my computer or drawing board and look out over fields and watch the wildlife. I love being my own boss, and I love that I get to be creative and see my work in print. It is also nice to know that some place in the world a child could be reading one of my books.

What do you dislike about your work?

No sick pay, no holiday pay, sometimes no weekends, long hours and I get a little lonely from time to time working on my own from home (I have been known to talk to myself!) but these things are FAR outweighed by the positives!

How much do you charge for your work?

That really varies quite substantially depending on the project; the amount of work needed, the rights being purchased, the budget the publisher has, the turn-around time for the job etc.

Do you have any advice on how to get in to the children's illustration market?

Research the market as much as possible ­ Familiarize yourself with what different publishers do. Make notes- who publishes picture books, what kind of artwork do they seem to like? What styles of illustration are used for what age groups?

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How do I know who to approach?

Get a copy of The Writers & Artists Yearbook (or something similar) This has listings of all the publishers with their contact details, what kind of books they publish etc. (I would not be without mine)

How do I make contact?

Make colour copies of two or three of your best pieces, Photocopies are fine or colour printouts from a high-quality colour printer. Post these with a short covering letter to the publishers you have researched. Try to get a specific name to address them to - the Art Director or Commissioning Editor are the ones you are after. If in doubt, do not be afraid to phone the company and ask who that is. In your letter, tell them that you would like to visit and show them the rest of your portfolio. Follow up the letter with a phone call about ten days later, but do not be too disappointed if they do not remember your samples - they get hundreds. Ask again if you can make an appointment to visit them with the rest of your work.

What do I put in my portfolio?

Your portfolio should be no more than A3 in size, remember you are going to have to carry this around to all your appointments, so you want something light and easy to handle. Also bare in mind most publishers/editors tend to have very little free desk space, and that most children's books at the larger end tend to be no more than 305 x228 mm or 12 x 10 in size. Put together a portfolio of between 10 ­ 15 pieces. Try to exclude samples that you yourself consider weak, for maximum impact focus solely on your strengths. Good illustration communicates, if you find yourself having to provide an explanation for every illustration you show, those illustrations have failed in their job, and should not be in your portfolio. Try to include at least one board with several small drawings or paintings illustrating a given text (maybe a favorite fairytale/story, you yourself liked as a child). This will show character/development, setting and narrative and, it will help show how you plan a job. If you are successful when showing your portfolio, remember have an up- to-date printed sheet with examples of your work and contact details on.

Where can I get more help and advice?

Think about joining an organization like the AOI (The Association of Illustrators), they are able to offer you advice about your portfolio, who to visit, what to charge, what to do if you get a contract, how to publicize yourself and much more. They also send out newsletters and arrange talks and social events, where you can find out that there are lots of other people out there just like you!

Where can I get more information about illustrating?

Take a look at the illustrator resources links on my links page!

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