Thursday, March 14, 2013

Working With Children's Book Editors


I've been working on one of the funnest books I've ever had the privilege to illustrate. "Skeleton For Dinner" by Margery Cuyler is due out this coming fall by Albert Whitman - and is a very cute story about miscommunication among friends. The image above is just a mock up - the real type treatments to come.

My advice when working with editors and art directors:

1) Seek after the advice of your editor. It's a collaboration. The publisher is paying the bills. They are risking their money to make the dream happen. You and I are risking our time. We all have risk but I often hear about illustrators who feel that art decisions should be their call alone. Many of my books have been greatly enhanced by the discretion, suggestions, and requests of my employers and this cover is no exception. I had to completely re-do this cover because I broke some of my own design rules - I cut corners. I am so much happier with this current version and the input from my editors Nick Tiermersma and Wendy McClure.

2) Get to know your editors with good back and forth communication. Be clear in what your expectations, aspirations, intentions, plans, goals, etc are. Let them know how passionate you are - they want to know. Don't make it a secret that you're tickled to work on their project. Don't hide the fact that you're trying to do your best work ever. Let them understand that you value their opinion and input. After all you're a team even though you may be many miles apart geographically. If you're not a team player...good luck.


18 comments:

  1. Absolutely! I'm always pleasantly surprised when I find my illustration working out better as the result of my editors comments and suggestions.

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    1. So true Guy - I think we get used to it being just about our personal vision and it's not natural to let go a little.

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  2. Great advice. Love the cover, too. My daughter saw it and asked if we could read it.

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    1. Aww - thanks Dena - It won't be too long :)

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  3. I agree. My work always turns out better with the help of an editor.
    Your blog is so wonderful. Thank you for all you do. Oh, and the book cover is awesome!

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    1. Thank you Melissa - means a lot to me.

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  4. Thank you for your advice and beautiful cover

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  5. Oh please! I want to buy this book in Amazon when it will be possible. Thank you very much for show with us your suggestions...!!!! :D

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    1. I think they will start pre-selling it in a few months...It has to be out for this coming Halloween though - I'll announce a release date and I'll be posting more sketches and finished art here on the blog in the coming weeks.

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  6. This such helpful advice, as I am finishing up the illustrations for my first book! Yay! Have you made any tutorials on cover design?

    BTW, my kids approve of your work, too!;)

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  7. Awesome Will, I can't wait to see this when it comes out.

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  8. You have got the skills Will...

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  9. Dear Will Terry,

    You are right that artists/writers have to compromise with editors. I have been on both sides of this because I am a published writer, a former editor of the literary magazine Primavera, and also a college professor teaching composition and creative writing. As an editor and professor, I find some writers too prickly to deal with constructive criticism. However, as a writer, I find some editors too bossy and too intrusive when they ask for overly specific revisions, rather than letting the writer or artist make changes within his or her aesthetic.

    Best wishes for the spring!

    Janet Heller
    Author of the award-winning book for kids about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Sylvan Dell, hardback--2006, paperback--2007, e-book, audio, and Spanish edition--2008, 3rd paperback edition and iPad app--2012)
    Website is http://www.redroom.com/author/janet-ruth-heller

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  10. Love this Skeleton character, he look very cute!

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  11. Saw this book at B&N last year.
    Probably one of the best illustrated kid's books I've ever seen.

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