Tonight, I visited my first Holiday Schmooze for children’s authors and illustrators, an event put on by the NorCal SCBWI chapter. I have to say, it was quite a nice experience. Being surrounded by others with similar ambitions, and at different periods of their careers, was so refreshing. I got to ask several writers about their work and about their publishing history. Some offered information that I didn't know, others offered interesting conversation. And, it felt so good to be able to say that I too have sold work (yay Highlights!). I got to see Rosi Hollinbeck, a member from the critique group I'm in, and met some new up and coming authors. And not to mention, there were sweets as far as the eye could see!
In addition to meeting new people, I had a chance to hear a talk from Deborah Underwood, the award-winning author of The Quiet Book and a Crystal-Kite winner. She had provided some good information, and some tips to evaluate our own writing careers. While she was signing my copy of The Quiet Book, I asked her what advice she would give to new writers. At first, she said “perseverance”, but then she told me how beneficial it was for her to take a beginning illustration class. She said that having a chance to learn about picture books from the perspective of the illustrator, really opened her eyes and changed the way she wrote. She said that she feels it is definitely important to leave space for the illustrator to do what they do so well—illustrate.
I think that this is important to keep in mind too. I understand that as an author, usually, you have no say in who the illustrator is and how the illustrator illustrates (at least if you are a new author). In other words, once your book is accepted, the editor finds the illustrator and the author may not see the pictures until the book is finished. So, I’m sure, many books may not up the way that the author had envisioned it. But with that being said, again, the illustrator is a professional too; picture books are a joint effort and a collaborative process.
The world of illustration seems so interesting. I’d love to learn more about it! I think I will. : )
Here is Deborah Underwood's book "The Quiet Book," if you're interested. You can check out her website at: http://www.deborahunderwoodbooks.com/index.html