Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Art Notes- Can't Live with 'em, Can't Live without 'em

As a picture book author, I always struggle with when to include an art note and when not to. Some editors and agents seem to hate them. My agent mentor at the NJ March SCBWI conference pretty much told me, "They should ALL go!"

But... won't the editor/agent be wondering what happens there?" I asked.

"NO," he replied. "CUT CUT CUT"

So, I sent my story to an agent without art notes and got this response today. "What happens there?"

I AM NOT KIDDING!

She said there seemed to be a gap in the story. Well, it is a bit of a Catch 22. Industry wisdom dictates that a picture book should be half told by the author and half told by the illustrator, but you can't submit half a story! So, unless you happen to be an illustrator, you are in a bit of a bind.

What's a PB author to do?

10 comments:

Solvang Sherrie said...

Damned if you do, damned if you don't! Do agents/editors ever give guidelines for what they personally like, specifically with regard to Art Notes?

Travis Erwin said...

I never thought of that dilemma, but then again I've never pondered much about the creative process for PBs. Thanks for opening my eyes.

Hardygirl said...

I don't know how you can get by without putting art notes in a picture book manuscript. To actually be called a picture book (as opposed to a picture story book), the words are not supposed to make sense without the pictures. They are co-dependant.

Sometimes in your query letter you can clarify some of the big issues in your manuscript that are going to be explained with illustrations. Then use illustration notes sparingly--where they are absolutely needed.

sf

Kelly H-Y said...

I feel the same way! Ugghh ... how frustrating to get that response!

beth said...

LOL! I just asked on #askagent whether to include my blog in my query: one said (resoundingly) no! Another said (resoundingly) yes!

B.J. Anderson said...

Wow! I had no idea how that whole process worked.

Corey Schwartz said...

Well, they say you should only put them in if they are absolutely necessary. But apparently, "necessary" is subjective.

MelissaPEA said...

You're right, Corey. "Necessary" is subjective. Most editors say to keep art notes to a minimum, and use them only if the text is unclear without them. At one conference, an editor said not to get "too didactic" with art notes. I'd be interested in hearing from editors and agents on this point, to see if they've ever rejected a manuscript based on excessive or unnecessary art notes.

Shelli said...

go with your gut! yo cant please everyone. I herad only put art notes where you need a pic to help explain. That should not be too many times. I also heard you could send one with and one without. That way if they are interested - they canlook at both.

Sherry Dale Rogers said...

I have often wondered about this too. It is so hard to know what to includ to an agent or publishing house. Everyone has a different take. I assume (but we know what that means) that you only put them in if absolutly needed.