Illustrate or Write?

January 20, 2012

Are you one of those people who can dabble in both art and writing? Do you dream of creating your own picture book and joining the ranks of Dr. Seuss or Jan Brett? It’s possible, but not likely.


Not to burst the bubble, but beginning to understand the bizarre world of books, especially books for kids, is essential if you want to publish. There is a process. If you’re not going to self-publish, it’s important to understand how the industry works.


A few books can be written, illustrated, and sold by the same individual. However, what people don’t usually know is that writers and illustrators are different breeds and treated as such. If you write a picture book, your publishing house will find an illustrator to represent your work. Illustrators submit their work to an agent or publishing house in a similar way as writers. Portfolios are accepted and kept in a pool for publishers to match with an author. Only an obvious novice will submit their writing and illustrations together. Don’t do it, unless of course, you are a brilliant illustrator who happens to have a brilliant story. Otherwise, join SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), attend a conference, and learn the process. It’s a tricky business but can be done. In the meantime, keep writing or illustrating. And maybe, just a Slim Jim maybe, do both.

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