Last week we interviewed illustrator Natalie Hoopes. Today she is sharing some of her tips to help you break into the publishing world.
1. Take every piece of advice you receive and consider it very carefully, including your own
I am not an expert and am still learning how to navigate the publishing and illustration worlds myself. I’ve been told a lot of contradictory things by many people in the industry and for a while, I was too paralyzed to make a move for fear of messing up. Don’t be afraid! Sometimes successful people aren’t always the best teachers. Important things can be gleaned from many people, but you are ultimately the master of your own fate. There is a very helpful article written about it here.
With that in mind, here are three other things that have worked for me or other illustrators I know:
2. Go to conventions and workshops
It’s a good way to meet agents or publishers and to get your name out there. I’m planning on attending the ICON conference in Austin next summer. There are also many events hosted by the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI). They have a chapter for each state, so check out scbwi.org to see if there are events coming up in your area.
3. Make sure you have a strong portfolio
I know this sounds really obvious, but honestly, investing in a domain name and having a clean-cut, functional website goes a long way. I try to keep at least 12 of my best work (not just filler illustrations, but quality pieces) in an online portfolio at any time. If I’ve created something less-than-stellar (which happens more often than I care to admit), I just don’t include it. And if you don’t feel like you have any good art to show from past projects, invent projects for yourself to keep busy! I feel like some of my best work comes from projects I do in my spare time.
4. Do your research
When submitting manuscripts, portfolios or book dummies, make sure you check the submission guidelines on their website. Some publishers prefer emailed submissions, some prefer hard copies, some won’t accept anything without an agent, etc. Make sure you know what you are doing before you send anything in! The Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market book is a fantastic resource that includes information on many publishing houses. Good luck!