I was just fumbling through my email box looking for that one needle in the haystack note. I finally found that one needle, but I also found several emails that I opened and read, but never responded to.
I get many offers from authors who've visited my website. I am greatful to those people who take the time to view my artwork. And I thank those who send notes with offers. I am flattered. All that said — and I hope I don't sound snobbish now, but — I'm at a different place in my career today than I was maybe 15-years ago. Then, I was itching for any opportunity to illustrate any book that might have any possibility of being published. But I scratched that itch many years ago. Guess I just ain't as itchy no more. Not to say my excitement level about illustrating children's books has waned — that's far from the truth. But I am now more selective in the offers I receive.
Recently, I received an offer from Harper Collins. Did I accept it? Of course! I may not be very itchy, but I'm still kinda hungry. And a book deal with Harper makes for a nice meal.
Typically, publishing houses acquire picture book manuscripts from authors. An author does not need to find their own illustrator before approaching a publisher. Approaching a publisher with an illustrated manuscript is not going to increase an author's chances of getting noticed. In fact it may detract. Art is subjective. What an author thinks is good appropiate art, may not be good, polished, marketable artwork in the opinion of an editor, agent, or art director.
So, am I saying that my art is less than polished, and marketable? No. A brotha's art is polished. Still, I too need to be particular about the manuscripts my art is associated with. If a manuscript is presented to me by an agent or directly from a publishing house — first of all, it's practically money in the bank. Second, it probably represents a quality that better matches my level of expertise.
Publishing houses typically have their own talent pools of artist from which they choose. They choose the author's manuscript. They match the manuscript with an artist. It's my goal to become a part of those talent pools.
When an author approaches me directly with an offer to illustrate their books, in most cases, that's a clue that maybe this manuscript isn't a good match for me. That's not always thee case. I know of many authors and artist who colaborate directly before presenting their ideas to a publisher. Pam Munoz Ryan and Brian Selznick are an example. So unless an author's name is Pam Munoz Ryan, Kathi Appelt or anyone else who's already sold a zillion-and-one award-winning titles, it makes better sense for me to get offers from editors. That's not a slam on the manuscript or the author who is approaching me. It's just that an editor or agent is probably the conduit I need in helping me discern what manuscripts I should be considering.
Now, all that said, dissing your email still isn't cool. I honestly try to return every one. I apologize if yours is one of the six unanswered notes I just found. I'll get to them right now.
I'm off to answer emails.
Unrelated thought for the day: I do love Paul's art, but... are you kidding me?