Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Query question: art on the blog

I'm an (aspiring) professional writer but an amateur illustrator. I draw characters and scenes from my book strictly for my own amusement and to help me develop my ideas. They are not intended to be part of the published book. Obviously, I don't mention my art in queries or anything like that, but I'm wondering what is and isn't wise to do with this art. For instance, can I post it on my blog and social media, where it isn't directed at agents, but they're likely to see it if they research me? Or should I keep it under wraps to avoid looking amateurish? (For the sake of argument, let's assume that I'm a fairly good artist.)

You haven't mentioned what kind of books you're writing. If you plan to write novels for adults, art work won't help much at all, since most of those book don't contain any illustrations.

If you're planning on writing for kids, illustrations are used in varying amounts depending on the kind of book: picture, early reader, middle grade etc.

Art is a very tricky topic. Some really awkward looking things can end up as phenomenal successes:

And some images are so wonderful they just grab your heart the second you see them and never let go:

And some aren't cute or funny, but they really make you want to read the book:

But in the end, this is your art, and your blog, and if you want to share your work, you should. You can't predict what anyone's response will be. I can't imagine an agent looking at your blog and saying no to a project that was otherwise a yes simply because s/he didn't like your art. (although, I do have very strong feelings about certain fonts....but that's another blog post.)


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Funny thing about Art, almost everybody likes him. They get inspired by him and moved by him, even if he’s funny looking and especially if he’s funny looking. He is everywhere and I think that’s great. I love Art, and I’m not talking about the guy married to my aunt, although I do love him too.

Unknown said...

And then there's the cousin, DeviantArt. Great place to post if you're feeling more the artist than the writer.

Amy Schaefer said...

I suppose a lot depends on your motivation for posting your art. Are you writing short essays on choices you make in your writing, and are using the pictures as a tool to explain what you have done? Are they just great pictures you want to share with friends and family, no explanation required? I'd think about why you want to put your work online, then choose the most appropriate format based on that.

I make little sketches to help me visualize rooms, characters and so on, but these doodles are nothing to share, if for no other reason than I lack artistic talent. When my youngest was four years old, she brought home a little book from school called Draw a Bunny. The two of us sat down and each followed the instructions. When we were done, she looked over at my work, patted my shoulder and said, "You tried your best, Mom." That pretty much sums up my abilities.

french sojourn said...

I was asked to take down my gallery page by quite a few commentors.

Then again it was for my short lived Dino-Erotica series.


Anonymous said...

I used (plagiarized) some Clip Art from MS Word and tossed it into my current WIP for one chapter where the characters are branding someone as a symbol of loyalty. I realize the pic won't stay IF the book sells, but I liked the way it looked. It was cool. I was grateful for Clip Art b/c my abilities run along the same lines as Amy's.

I provided a description in the story, and probably should have left it out...although no one has pointed it out other than to say "the branding scene was fantastic."

Dena Pawling said...

I looooong time ago, I warned my Pictionary partner Julie that I couldn't draw at all, so whatever my drawing did NOT look like, that's what she should guess as the correct answer.

The word I was given was butter. How do you draw butter? I had no idea, so I just drew a rectangle on the paper. Julie said "What is it? Butter?"

Unknown said...

I think putting up novel-related artwork, as long as it IS an adult/YA novel, is a neat way to hook in potential readers. As long as you're clear that these drawings are meant as interesting anecdotes only and not drafts of actual future illustrations.

If you're writing children's books though, I would consider carefully. Picture book illustrations are so integrated in with the story that it could cause problems if people see your illustrations online and then the published form uses a completely different style. Like when you realize, annoyingly, that a character is portrayed one way on the book cover and described completely differently in the book--you don't want to accidentally put off your readers over something you ultimately don't have much control over.

Good luck!

Steve Forti said...

Anyone else suddenly want to throw a koala?

wolfman141 said...

Maybe your art can find a new life as part of the book trailer that has become a popular piece of the promotion effort. Of course if you get published, and the publisher has a budget for that sort of thing, they may decide your art isn't quite up to the job...

Adib Khorram said...

I for one am curious which fonts are on the No Type List.

I recently saw the most hideous font ever: Comic Papyrus. Thankfully it was a joke.

Janet Reid said...

Comic papyrus? *clutches smelling salts*

Janet Reid said...

In case anyone wants to see that horror show of comic papyrus, it's here.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I spoke to someone in the publishing industry who said they are considering incorporating visual media into e-books; interactive maps, short clips and stills, even apps and games.

This is how our children are learning to read: interactive e-books.

Their first reading experience is different than mine was. I bet their future demands for reading will be different than mine. Probably interactive. Already, people want more experiences and less stuff. Anyone selling stuff can tell you. C’est la crise.

I haven't a kindle or a tablet, I like books that float in the bath.

If the e-readers were sort of interactive or more than sort-of, I might buy a tablet, especially if it was waterproof. That could also mean higher prices for e-books.

Writers could be lazy, limit themselves to narrative summary.

Maybe this is farfetched but so was talking on a telephone standing on a rocky summit.

I wouldn't hesitate to blogpost illustrations, maps and photos which inspire your writing. If anything, you are spinning a platform that your future readers can connect to.

Anonymous said...

Derailing here.

Arguments online about font?

Apparently, "we" have much more time on our hands than we think. And now, after glimpsing Comic Papyrus, YES, I do want to throw a koala, Steve.

Christine Sarmel said...

Adding the creepy koala book to my TBR list. Love the picture.

Elissa M said...

Gosh. I fully intend to liberally illustrate my blog and/or web site whenever I get around to making one. And I don't really care how it influences people (though I hope they enjoy it). I just love to draw.

Full disclosure: People have paid me money for my artwork. I'm not afraid to put it on display. Also, I've endured scathing critiques of my art. Still not afraid to put it on display.

Karen McCoy said...

Comic Papyrus! HA! Have to show this to the husband. He's a graphic designer, and hates Papyrus with the fire of a thousand suns.

Anonymous said...

I donated some gift baskets for a relief auction given by writers. The "baskets" were actually rope bowls like these I make out of catch ropes. I then added Texas barbecue items that are hard to find elsewhere, some Texas Trash snacks, and original drawings.

I post a lot of my creative efforts on my blog, including the stuff in the gift baskets. I can't imagine any agent declining something they wanted due to art unless the author said something like, "I just finished my cover art for my next best seller and here it is!"

That being said, back in a former life when I had a real house, I designed and built my office so it had an antique door with the glass panel that opened to my storage closet. Why would you want a door with a glass panel for a storage closet? Well, mon ami, for when you sell a book and then do a stained glass version of the cover. Dream big or go home, says I.

I've changed my mind now. Who puts stained glass in a little trailer? Now, I'm on to the next cover dream. Cover art on my mixer!

Anyway, I digress. I can't imagine anyone would be put off by a writer's art unless they give the impression they're going to be the one designing the cover and insisting on illustrations in the book or it's something offensive, like tossing koalas! *gasp*

Am I a sick person for admitting that made me laugh?