I love being a picture book author. And, I love talking to other people about what I do. Family. Friends. Students. Teachers. Librarians. Aspiring writers. Bloggers. Journalists.
As I talk to these people, there is one question that I get asked in practically every conversation. It is:
“Do you get to choose the illustrator for your books?”
It’s usually followed by: “Do you at least get to tell the illustrator what to draw?”
I don’t mind that people ask. It’s a logical question, especially for folks who aren’t familiar with traditional publishing. But because it comes up so often, I made a video that answers the question, using my forthcoming picture book with illustrator Suzy Lee — SEE YOU SOMEDAY SOON (Roaring Brook Press, June 2022) — as an example of how the author/illustrator relationship works when it comes to traditional publishing.
Check it out.
Even after I explain this to people, they often still seem concerned. They ask: “But what if you don’t LIKE the art?” Or: “What if it’s an ugly book?” I have two responses to that.
First, all traditional publishing houses have art directors and designers on staff who work with the illustrator on their art. Just like I, as the author, get notes from the editor on how to make my story stronger and better, illustrators get notes from the art director on how to make their art stronger and better. So, there’s a whole team of experienced, creative, professional people dedicated to making the best possible book.
Second, that team of people is like an orchestra. As the author, you might think that you’re the first-chair violinist in that orchestra, but you’re surrounded by other talented professionals who know what they’re doing. And, you have to trust that the clarinetists and bassoonists and percussionists will all do their part professionally and beautifully to create memorable music. The author is a professional who is trusted to write a good story, and so is the illustrator.
In fact, one of my favorite parts of making a picture is seeing which illustrator my text gets matched with and watching the sketches and proofs come in. And, with 15 picture books currently on the shelves, I have not yet been disappointed.
On another note …
My two most recent picture books are WHEN I’M WITH YOU, about friendship, and IN OUR GARDEN, about seeing possibilities and blooming where you’re planted. When I have new books come out, I like to think about other picture books that pair well with them — for classrooms or story-times or read-alouds at home.
So, I made two videos recommending other books about friendship and other books about gardens. I hope they introduce you to more titles to read!
Here are my friendship book recommendations:
And, here are my garden book recommendations:
There are SO MANY great picture books out there. Feel free to share your friendship and garden recommendations in the comments.