Monday, July 07, 2014

Query question: illustrations! Drawings! Art!

I'm writing sci-fi/fantasy. An artist friend has offered to illustrate the manuscript with b/w line drawings. Maps and illustrations. He's pretty good, he's been a NY professional illustrator for 30 years and makes a living at it.

My question is whether agents are likely to appreciate this effort? Or do they tend to think all such things are in the domain of the publisher, and they're only interested in the words?

Unless you are submitting a graphic novel or a picture book, you don't send illustrations with a query. For starters, illustrations would have to be attachments and most agents specifically say "do not send attachments" with a query.

Secondly, most SFF books are not illustrated. Illustration adds to the cost of book production, and most publishers are trying to keep costs low, particularly if you are debut novelist.

Third, you haven't mentioned money, but unless this artist friend is a Very Good Friend, and or your spousal unit, the question of making money from his/her art and not compensating him/her is going to be tricky.

Here's what you do: you say thanks, and mean it, for a kind and generous offer. Then say you know you can only send text in a query but if the opportunity arises, you'll be honored to mention this offer to the publisher.

This kind of offer of help happens a lot to writers at the query stage. Well-meaning friends and family want to help but they don't know enough about how publishing actually works to offer usable help.


Anonymous said...

This is helpful. In my current WIP there is a picture - kind of - more like an inserted Clip Art thingy of a snake, and then my created name of a branch of an organization below that. It's supposed to represent a symbol used by some of my characters. Something tells me when my agent gets this draft, he might say, "Meh. Lose the pic." Even though I love it, I'll lose it if need be.

B/c my new mantra is...whatever it takes!

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

I've been thinking about posting an illustrated glossary of aliens from an upcoming sci-fi novel to DeviantArt or a similar site. I figure it might drive sales from a social media site I'm not currently targeting. I have no idea if it will be effective or not. Maybe you could have your artist friend do some sketches and share them on your blog or DeviantArt or FB or somewhere.

Colin Smith said...

I like Stephen's idea--see if your friend would be willing to do promotional artwork on DeviantArt, or perhaps your own website in the event the book is sold to a publisher. You could, perhaps, mention this to your agent/editor when they ask about promotional efforts you plan to employ. They might like that.

D. B. Sundstrom said...

I'd be honored if my MS inspired someone to create art in their medium and they posted it, but I wouldn't put it to my own social media sites. It would feel like jumping the gun, and I'd worry an agent would notice and assume self publication.

Jenz said...

I had the same thought as everyone else. It's a great idea for promotion once you're up to the point of publication. Definitely don't try to send anything along with the query. As Colin said, you bring this up when an agent asks about promotion plans.

And of course you will pay your friend. Quality work will take a good deal of time. You want quality, and to keep your friend.