Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Monday night we had a Schmooze in Birmingham led by author-illustrator Lori Nichols, author of the charming picture book MAPLE, and a slew of others coming in the near future.

The topic was "Author-Illustrator Exchange: What We Want from Each Other" or something along those lines. :) I chose the topic because I've noticed in my career that part of what we authors must do is make our project so appealing to the illustrator that s/he can't say no. I mean, who wants their wonderful ms to languish after being acquired? Yet, that does happen. So what can we authors do to make our work irresistible?

Well. It's not as simple as that, of course. Lori reminded us that each illustrator has his or her own personal interests and strengths. Lori loves white space, and humor, so she may not be the best choice for a serious underwater sea life book. It helps to work with an editor who has good instincts for illustration and who is familiar with a lot of illustrators' work.

One thing that may surprise you: Lori said she personally really appreciates author illustration notes. If your book is about a bird in prehistoric times, for instance, it's fine to include a link to an image of a prehistoric bird. Or, if there's something you've deliberately left out of your text to be covered by illustration, of course, include it. My hunch is that mostly we are given the advice NOT to include illustration notes in order to show that we don't have rigid ideas about the art and that we are eager to allow an artist the freedom to bring what they will to the project. I mean, seriously, that's where the magic happens -- in the interaction of the words and images. At least that's been my experience!

Big thanks to Lori for sharing herself with us.. and to Joan, for hosting as well as posting this wonderful review of Lori's book MAPLE (which is completely adorable and beautiful).

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