Saturday, 30 June 2012

Inside Picture Books: a panel discussion

Blogger: Nathan Luff, author 
reports on some of the highlights 
INSIDE PICTURE BOOKS - a discussion with Corinne Fenton, Nina Rycroft, Sue Whiting & Claire Saxby – chaired by Frané Lessac. A discussion on how they created and published their award-winning picture books. 

On first getting published
Claire Saxby took writing classes to begin with, including a writing for children course that 'felt like coming home'. Fortunately her first picture book was accepted after having been sent to only 3 publishers. It got to final proof and then the company went broke. That was 2001 and that book has never been published. In 2002 she submitted another one, which through a series of publisher related complications didn't come out until 2006. PERSISTENCE is the key.
Corinne Fenton had published educational books first but always wanted to write picture books. She chanced upon the story of Queenie the elephant and wrote a picture book manuscript about her, which turned out to have huge relevance to the owners of Black Dog Books (and she met with them on the anniversary of Queenie arriving in Australia) "Sometimes there's work and sometimes there's luck".

Sue Whiting's first love was PB but she was clueless as to the process. She received many rejections so to learn the craft of writing Sue took a diversion and started writing for the education market and a novelty publishing company. She still had her first love – picture books.
Nina Nycroft was a massive collector of picture books and would hang out in bookshops. Didn't know anything about illustrating kids books however – she gave up graphic design and came up with some concept sketches that she sent to publishers. She was rejected by everyone before Koala Books called asking to meet her. "It's a marathon not a sprint"

On authors letting go of control
Corinne –there's no choice she has to hand it over and let it go – she trusts the illustrators who are chosen. Keeps illustrators briefs as short as possible. It helps by getting caught up in another story. She gets a chance to query the artwork but is careful that she only queries things she feels really strongly about.
Claire has no idea what her characters look like unless it is relevant to the plot – only includes illustrators notes if it is important to plot. She has never been disappointed.
Sue is very visual – she sees the whole story as she writes it. So getting the first proofs can be really hard, especially the first book – it was so removed from her vision. But now she can't imagine them in any other way. You have to let go – a PB is not your book, it is a collaboration. The beauty of the PB is that it is the meeting of 2 creative minds. Like Claire, she doesn't give any notes to the illustrator.

How do you feel about receiving notes (as an illustrator)
Very rare to meet the author of the book you are illustrating. Nina prefers when there is little text because she gets to be more creative. She knows a MS is hard to write and knows she must respect it but also has to add to it. Loves getting into the process of it and being able to play. The illustrator is a storyteller too and must be given that opportunity.

How do you get a 99 word book accepted by a publisher? Corinne has one with 54 words coming out (but it didn't start out that way). You just send it in ... LESS IS MORE. Sue mentioned you don't need many words to tell a good story – it can be tricky but if there is something plot wise that is important and not covered in the text, you might include it as a note. These notes should be given within the manuscript in italics and brackets – but be careful as there are very few books that need notes.
Are multiple submissions okay? Check the publishers guidelines to see if they like that or not. Be aware. Jill Corcoron always sends to more than one publisher – they are holding your life and can take AGES with it. Sue says, 'just act professional and if you get a niggle, just let people know.'

No comments:

Post a Comment