Friday, October 13, 2017

Querying as author and artist

I have a question for your blog. You've said before that it's really hard to do two things well. But just supposing someone is crazy enough to do both writing and illustration, how would they best seek representation? How would that work? Say this person wants to write and illustrate their own graphic novel.

Oh you mean like


Otter is of course not a graphic novel; it's a picture book but the author, Sam Garton, is also the illustrator.

And I believe Marjane Satrapi did the art for Persepolis as well as the text.

This isn't two things. Each of them are one: a graphic novel, a picture book.
And you are the author/illustrator. You can be a good author/illustrator, you can be a GREAT author/illustrator. You can be a terrific graphic novelist. 

And you query for it with text about the story. It will help a LOT if you have a website with your art on it so I can click on the link you provide in your query and see what you've got.

You'd be a savvy author to check out the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators. They have author/illustrators by the wheelbarrowful.


Arri Frranklin said...

Wait. I thought there were to be no hyperlinks in the query such that Priscilla did not devour it? Web address, yes, clickable link, no. This has not changed, has it?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Well, there you go. I wish I could draw. Author/Illustrator is way cool.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Here’s an OT observation that is sort of related.

Illustrating your own novel reminds me of the signs I see around town this time of year. They’re sheets of 8 by 11 computer paper, stapled or duct taped on power polls, trees and anything stuck in the ground at intersections. Scribbled in fine or medium Sharpie, they say “yard sale”, plus an address, dates and time. Hard to read one of those buggers when the light changes or when you’re rushing to get to work or home or to daycare or catechism.

Then there’s the YARD SALE signs on orange poster board, block lettered in w-i-d-e marker with address and times absolutely visible. They work.

Moral of the observation: The right side of your brain writes and paints the sign, the left side gets you the perfect tree.

Stacy said...

OP here. Thanks very much, Janet! I will check out that out. This answer makes me feel a lot less crazy.

Sherry Howard said...

Author-illustrators are tremendously admired and desired in the picture books world! Many of the best books are by author-illustrators. Some agents will only represent author-illustrators, not author only in picture books.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Good luck Stacy !
Let us know when your book hits the shelves...because it will.

Stacy said...

Aw... shucks. Thanks, Carolynnwith2Ns!

Colin Smith said...

Arri: If you include your blog/website with your email signature, the agent's email software might automatically hyperlink it. Otherwise, most agents know how to copy-paste a URL into a browser... I think... I hope! ;) In other words, yes, you should have an email signature that provides your social media sites. If an agent isn't interested, she won't care and it won't make any difference. If an agent is at all interested, she'll go visiting.

Stacy: All the very best with your work!! Let us know when you land that agent, get that book deal, and have an Amazon link. :)

Craig F said...

Can't master more than one thing? Are writers insects?

First, I don't know what a master writer is. I have met a few who said they were but there are doubts, especially since they all teach Creative Writing. Writers should continually strive to get better, not rest on their laurels.

To be a writer you have to have mastered research, spatial equations and many other things. As the world changes, you have to keep up with it. Emotion is wonderful if you can express it but books need to be grounded in other things too.

As far as the writer/illustrator combo platter, we have two who are regular reiders. Panda and Angie are both professional artists along with being considerably accomplished on the writing front.

Megan V said...

Now if only I had a web-page where all of the agents could marvel at my stick figure drawings. They're pretty fabulous!

Sarah said...

SCBWI is the best! (Even if it took me about three years to be able to pronounce it easily!)

The community is both supportive and educational, both in the craft and business side of the industry. The agent/editor/art director critique sessions that you can purchase at regional conferences are often very reasonable– and absolutely worth the expense!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Good luck Stacy with finding an agent for your double-jointed talents! And let us know when you do!

Megan, ha! stick and me both!

I read Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis last winter. What an interesting thumbnail scrutiny of girlhood in Iran as it shifted into a repressive religious/political environment. I'm glad to be reminded of this author (she fell off my read-more-of-her list amid family turmoil) as I'll now get her other books.

BJ Muntain said...

Great question, Stacy - and best of luck in your agent search!

Megan and Lisa: I do very nice stick figures. You can get much emotion into a few lines and a couple of large expressive eyes. Maybe I should hire myself out to xkcd... but they don't use eyes...

Beth Carpenter said...

Good luck, Stacy. I'll look forward to your lovely books when they're published.

Stacy said...

Sherry Howard, I had no idea. That's great to hear. I wonder if it's the same for graphic novelists who illustrate their own work.

Colin, Lisa Bodenheim, BJ Muntain, Beth Carpenter! thank you!

I've been on the SCBWI site all day. What fabulous writers and artists.

Claire Bobrow said...

Stacy - I'm so envious of your "double-threat" capabilities. It's a huge advantage to have both skills. El Deafo, by Cece Bell, is another example of an excellent MG graphic novel. Good luck as you go forward!

Kate Higgins said...

Stacy! I belong to SCBWI, I love it, it is a great place to belong because you feel like you belong and aren't some kind of chimaera.

It didn't include illustrators when it was founded in 1971, that was added 20 years later. As for pronouncing it or remembering all those letters, my husband and kids just call it "SCooBieDo" Go to their annual conference in LA and you will be hooked forever.

Some day when I get the courage, I'll query some of those agents. In the meantime when life doesn't get in the way, I'm illustrating and writing and rabidly following blogs like this one. Good luck!

Panda in Chief said...

Stacy, best of luck in your search! And yes, as Janet mentioned SCBWI is a fabulous organization, and if you are writing for any level of child readers, the membership is well worth the price. I felt like I got a masters degree in writing for children and publishing in general in my first several years of membership. In fact, it's also how I ended up with my agent, through an SCBWI mentorship program.

Even though I am now represented, I can't break the habit of reading agent profiles and I see many in the kid-lit world looking for author illustrators. Yay! It's probably more normal than not to be both author and illustrator for graphic novels and memoirs. Beside the excellent Persepolis, check out Victoria Jamieson's Roller Girl and other graphic novels, Cece Bell's El Deafo, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, Raina Telgamier (sp?), and one of my all time favorites for non fiction, Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series. There are a lot of fabulous graphic novels being published right now, so it seems like a great time to dive into the market.

Still in the submission trenches with my graphic novel, but you can be sure I'll be swinging from the chandelier spewing cuppycake crumbs over everyone when it finally sells and is published.

Thanks Craig for the shoutout.

Panda in Chief said...

One of the advantages of being both the author and illustrator of a graphic novel (besides the HUGE amount of work you get to do! Twice as much! Yay!) is that part of the writing gets done visually. Under the editorial direction of my agent, I'm learning to start with writing the script, editing through several rounds before even getting to thumbnail sketches. I do make scene and action notes as I'm writing my early drafts, because I'm kind of a pantser when it comes to writing. Then when I start the first round of thumbnail sketches (which I do on tiny post it notes so I can't get too obsessive) I find it helps edit the text and sometimes rearrange the action and see redundancies.

Then I go back to another round of revisions in the script, which leads to another version of the story board, done larger on 4x6" file cards. After the next (couple) rounds of script revisions, I do a full scale pencil dummy in a sketchbook. When I revise pages at this point I just tape a new drawing over the old one, so I can see how the story flow and page turns work. See how much fun you get to have when you do the writing and the illustrations?

And around here, we either pronounce SCBWI as Skweeba or SkibWee.

Nae said...

My SCBWI membership is singlehandedly the best thing I have ever purchased. You know, unless you count paying hospital bills from the birth of my kids.
Not only will you have incredible resources at your fingertips, you will also have ENCOURAGEMENT. The community values what you bring to the table and will help you improve. I found multiple critique groups. Good ones.
I hope you already signed up, and if you have, welcome!

Stacy said...

Thanks very much, Claire Bobrow. I'd heard of El Deafo, but I hadn't yet had a chance to check it out. On my TBR pile! :)

Kate Higgins, it just so happens I have a friend in L.A. who is a member of SCBWI.

Panda in Chief, I feel like you've given me a masterclass right here. Thanks!

Nae, one of my biggest challenges has been finding a good critique group. Definitely going to join.

Really appreciate all the advice and encouragement, everyone. Definitely joining SCBWI.