another agency crit for Temean Blog

cathyWO spread 10-11

Chris: LOTS GOING ON! This artist is very technically proficient – draws and paints very very well. But are we more aware of that talent than of this individual story?  There is SO much to look at which can be great fun for the young eyes while listening. Lots to explore.  But the eye SHOULD be allowed to see clearly the main focus, characters and action.  It should be ‘lead’ around each image as the ARTIST wishes.  In and out, back and forth, leading to the page turn. Something artists need to be always aware of.  That isn’t happening here in both the images.  The near, middle and far plains are almost equally distinct.  Even a camera wouldn’t accomplish that!

I think these perfectly lovely and well rendered pieces would benefit from a ‘tone down’ of color everywhere that isn’t story essential. A slight ‘graying’ or blurring. (the cars ARE moving after all…not parked) Then we could SEE the dog and friends at their best. The story becomes the important flow.  The crows would ‘jump out’ of the garbage bin behind instead of almost disappearing into them. Another observation about distraction for me is the sky. The sky is our ‘resting place’…the calm. But here there are ‘waves’ evident in the paint….grain of the paper perhaps? But only there?

Texture in a faraway sky where there isn’t much at all in the nearest walk ways? The sky should be an area to rest the eye and let it take in the detail below.  Pull back just a bit so that your characters can take the center stage and dance!

CathyWO spread 12-13

Christy: There’s lots of “story” here, which I love. A lot to take in! I’ve been surprised by the fact that some very “busy” pieces such as these DO interest and captivate children. I would think that these would be a bit too visually stimulating for a child (and in some moods, they would be!) but oftentimes children of all ages really enjoy this more realistic work with lots of detail. There is a lot in both of these illustrations to find that enhance the story and viewing experience  – making it multi-layered, and a visual feast!

On the other hand – is it too busy? There is such a thing as overwhelming the eye, and the high amount of detail in inconsequential things (like the cars in the way background and the signs and the grass!) might distract the reader from the story at hand, and become to jumbled to follow. You want to main character (I assume the dog) to POP – which he doesn’t in either of these pieces.

The artwork itself is beautiful. SO detailed and realistic; it’s astounding! Great depth, too – foreground/middle ground/background – all proportionately accurate. With beautiful, vibrant color!

I want to thank Chris  & Christy for taking the time to share their expertise with us. It helps so many illustrators and is very much appreciated. Here is the CATugeau Agency website link:


For the next few months illustrators can submit two consecutive story illustrations for critique by CATugeau Agency.

If you do not have an agent and would like to be featured and hear what you should do or how it could be tweaked to help you sell your work, then please send Two SEQUENTIAL illustrations – not just 2 pages of illustrations, but two with the SAME “story/characters‎” to:

Kathy.temean (at) Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide. Please put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and include a blurb about yourself that I can use to introduce you to everyone.

Each Sunday one illustrator will be chosen.

If everyone likes this, we will continue until the end of the year.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATORS: Remember I’m always looking for illustrations I can use with articles I post. Send to: Kathy.temean (at) Put ILLUSTRATION FOR BLOG in the subject area. Remember all illustration need to be 500 pixels wide. Include a blurb about yourself, too.

Talk tomorrow,


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ARTIST INTERVIEWS: Iwai’s Daily Sketch Booking

First off, thanks, Chris, for inviting me to do a guest post! J
You’ve continued the daily sketch practice …in spite of lots of paying projects… how?!  ;)  (from Chris with great interest!)

I’ve always loved to sketch from life, but I never maintained the discipline to do so on a regular basis. When I was in art school, I remember they always told us to keep sketchbook journals, and I was terrible at it! I think part of the problem for me was that psychologically, I would get a little self-conscious at the thought that whatever I sketched would be “captured” forever in a sketchbook. So I always had the feeling that it had to be “good”. This focus on the end product held me back, I think.

I would sketch occasionally from life if the opportunity fit – that is, I’d have to have my sketchbook on hand, and there had to be someone sitting in front of me not moving much. Here is a sketch I did, dated 2013.

iwai lawyer 1

Often, my subject would be Jamie, my son, because he was there, and he didn’t mind being drawn (unlike my husband, Denis!).

Iwai 2

Jamie and I even participated in the Sketchbook Project that is organized by the good people at the Brooklyn Art Library in Williamsburg after reading about it in the New York Times.

Here is a sample page from our sketchbook which had a food theme:

Iwai 3

As you can see, it is pretty “tight” and looks more like a finished illustration. My mindset at the time was still trapped in that focus of “it has to look ‘good’”.

I honestly don’t know how it happened that I decided to consciously change this thinking. I big part of it was reading about habits and making little daily changes in one’s life. I love the writing of James Clear on this topic. He makes the analogy of working out, putting in the reps, to learning new skills, whether it is writing or creating art. The focus is more on the process, rather than the end product.

I also loved Malcolm Gladwell’s, Outliers, which underlines this idea of doing something repetitively in order to improve one’s skills. He mentions that it takes ten thousand hours of doing something to achieve mastery of it.

Another bit of inspiration came from seeing all the sketches another CAT artist, Priscilla Burris, does. You had mention that she does these and how they actually had gotten her book deals! They are lovely and whimsical and have the feeling of spontaneity which I love.

I decided last fall to do a daily sketch in my Moleskine sketchbook of people in Brooklyn and post it on Instagram to keep me accountable. I chose people because I really, really wanted to get better at drawing them. And I love looking at people. There are so many interesting characters in our neighborhood too!

Another thing I decided was that it didn’t matter how it came out—that I would just keep plugging away and focus on the practice of doing a daily sketch. One of the things I promised myself was that I wouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes on it. I hoped that doing this daily would help me to lose my attachment to the end result, and with a 30 minute cap on it – there wasn’t much expectation for it to be great, anyway, and it would certainly allow me to fit it in every day.

A friend of mine, Jennifer Orkin Lewis, has kept up a daily sketchbook practice for a long time now, and I liked her method of limiting her dailies to 30 minutes or less.

This is my first post:

Iwai 4

I drew this at my son’s annual school picnic and painted it at home. Last week, we attended the picnic again, and I was trying to remember if I had started the sketchbook project last year or the year before! It seems like I’ve been doing it forever!


Here are the sketchbooks I’ve used throughout the year. I still love Moleskine, but I’ve since switched to their watercolor sketchbooks (they are a slightly different shape).

Iwai 5

These are my favorite because I can get the small ones and they are durable and well made.

In the beginning when I started, I was sketching in pencil, then painting loosely and quickly in acrylic at home. I used acrylic because I have been painting in that medium for years and I was most comfortable with it.

Iwai 6

I really liked that, flipping through my sketchbook, you could see the changing of the seasons. It seemed like winter lasted forever!

Iwai 7     Iwai 8  Iwai 9

Later, in the early summer, I switched to watercolor, because I decided I wanted to learn how to paint with it better. Watercolor is also easier to transport and we were traveling in the summer.

Then I started doing sketches in watercolor and pen and then later with India ink.

Iwai 11   Iwai 12

Recently, I’ve been having fun using a combination of watercolor and brush pens (these are also easily transportable!)


People often ask me how I do my sketches and whether or not I paint on site. There are five different methods I use depending on the situation.

1.  Draw from life; paint from life(I don’t usually do this, as it’s difficult to paint in public places inconspicuously!

 Iwai 13        Iwai 14


2.    Draw from life; paint at home from memory (court house line)

3.   Draw from life; paint at home with photo reference(Bear playing guitar)

4. Draw and paint from photo reference.  (grand Dad)

Iwai 15    Iwai 16                                       

5. Draw and paint from memory

Iwai 17

I still try to only spend 30 minutes on a sketch. But sometimes it is less and sometimes it is more, depending on how complicated it is. I just got by how I feel and how much other work I have.

I’m really glad that I’ve started this practice and kept it up. I have missed a day or two (I didn’t do it in December because I was doing an Advent Challenge that I was doing in its place!), but I don’t stress about it. It really has become a habit, and I feel my drawing has improved. I don’t freak out about an empty sketchbook page anymore and just enjoy the process. It’s kind of become a meditative ritual for me. And I feel that I SEE more in my environment on a daily basis. So there are only positives.

As for work, I got a random job on a tv commercial as a “Water Colorist” from my postings on Instagram. And I’ve gotten a lot of ideas from my dailies that I later incorporated into my illustration work.

This is the sketch that inspired the fall CAT promo.

Iwai 18         Iwai 19

And here is the promo piece.

If you’re interested in doing a similar practice, tag me on Instagram and we can follow each other! J   I’m at:

thank you Melissa! this is wonderful advice and a worthwhile challenge for all artists!  

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“COWBOYING UP” in Wyoming!

Cody Rodeo us

Had to start this blog post about our recent Wyoming two week trip with a photo of the two of us, Bill, my husband of 46 years and about to have a BIG bday, and myself, at the CODY REDEO the first night we were truly in and beginning our Western adventure….to Cody, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole area, and Bozeman Montana before flying back home out of Billings.  So here we are ‘Cowboying Up’ as it was rainy and COLD! as you can tell by the amount of jackets and raingear Bill is carrying! And this before Labor Day!  But OH SO FUN~!  YEEHAW! loved the BB Cody Museums there too…really first rate and even Bill loved them!

old faithfulOld Faithful…one of many sightings!

DSCN0302 Morning Glory Pool – 3 1/2 mile hike…worth it!

We stayed at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge of Yellowstone for 5 days….wonderful spot and good ground point for seeing everything else there in the over 2million acres of AWESOME viewing!  It’s a boiling pot underneath which blows the mind! (pun intended)  and the WILDLIFE.  So heart warming to see, up close and personal at times, the Bison herds too.  And the varying tree regrowth of so many spots (800,000 acres!) from the 1988 fires brought tears to my eyes…the realization of time needed to repair damage!  So much there at Yellowstone! GO!  DSCN0175 and get out enjoy!

chuck wagon Roosevelt cookout… hokey and FUN!  many many waterfalls….

DSCN0254 DSCN0225

We then left YS and hit the Grand Teton area which couldn’t be more different! WHOA! the earth heaved and there they were/are! I think the ‘youngest mountains’ in America… powerful.  We stayed three days at TURPIN MEADOW RANCH which I name because it’s worth a visit! old and authentic it’s been redone in ’14 – even our individual log cabin was restful with modern bath, most clean and comfortable. THE NICEST PEOPLE and gourmet food included TOO! Changed to another ‘ranch’ outside of Jackson town for 3 days too, but this was our favorite – yes those ARE the Tetons in distance!  DSCN0334 TMR log cabin


We did a lot of UP hiking on our own to “hidden falls” on far side of Lake Jenny, and into some ‘back country’ with bear spray etc., but our favorite was the wild life again: some of our new friends!  bearmy pride! had to work to get this…Bill stayed in car! hmm  moose (3)  moose in Moose!

DSCN0287a huge 6×6 buggling elk right by car…cow ahead

Had much fun in Jackson town as well. real (if upscale) western feel everywhere! ELK horns surround the main square! wonderful places to stay, eat and shop tucked into a valley with Tetons RIGHT there. All a feel of ‘tough’ however…it’s outside and active and 7000 ft or more high! Not for sissies.  hahahahah  (note the Snake river white water pic!) Don’t miss breakfast at Nora’s in Wilson! And HAVE to ‘saddle up’ to the saddle bar seats at the Million $ Cowboy Bar but might not want to finish your drink in it!

Jackson Horns saddling up to bar white water 2 that’s us in rain gear…freezing! YEEHAW!

I must mention the most wonderful Museum of Western Art there outside of Jackson… a must go for everyone! Just to see the building! but the art is breathtaking and makes you SEE and understand more through the eyes of artists….ya know?

So much more I could say and show – of the sage I loved so, and the textures of the mountains, and streams, and geysers and everything! The subtle shades of colors, so earthy but distinct, and almost overwhelming beauty and hugeness of it all…even the tiniest detail. But I think my last picture will be of the birthday boy…my old man ‘Bison Bill’ (of 52 years really…high school sweethearts!) …a HAPPY COWBOY!

Happy Birthday love!

bill on horseback and here’s to MANY MORE COWBOY!  xo

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Kathy Temean blog borrow!

had to borrow this …our first agency crit for the ‘Writing and Illustrating Blog’ by the wonderful Kathy Temean!  It’s a great learning tool for artists if you check in each week….and send your two sequential illustrations in for consideration and discussion!


“Christy and I of the CATugeau Agency want to start by saying we’re thrilled to be the first ARTIST REPS to critique on Kathy’s site.  We think this might be a wonderful weekly overall artist learning opportunity to hear what ‘hits’ us with each of two sequential images from the same artist.  Look, read and listen to what we share with our honest ‘first impressions’, and see if it might pertain to or help out YOUR images as well. Christy (who is my partner now for two years and my daughter for 35)  is tied up this weekend, so you’ll hear only from me, Chris, this week…she’ll join us with following weeks. Now let’s begin….


I love collage usage in illustration for many reasons, texture being one of them.  And I like it’s usage here.  Collage can be difficult to do faces and body motion well, but this artist I feel doesn’t struggle with this too much.  Their color choices work to the image benefit as well… making us see the eyes and facial expressions instead of other non-essential detail in the artwork.  One warning however, be aware always of ‘grain’ with texture used.  I feel the horizontal markings in the main brown haired characters hair is distracting as hair grows vertically.  The expressions are nicely done here on the bus and at the table.  There might have been more expression variety in the non-focus bus scene characters perhaps. If you observe a bus or crowd scene there will be MANY different expressions – not everyone smiles.   The two main kids are nicely framed by the others however. Even the back window frame lines tend to lead our eye to their faces. (the dark hair of the kid with ear phones almost draws our eye away)


In the table scene we see the same character done nicely again with new expression.  We ‘feel’ her conversation even though we don’t ‘read’ it.  I also ‘feel’ the relationship between the three women! Love the details of food prep on table without any distraction there. Composition is focused nicely with limited detail and color behind framing the activity at table. (I wish the point in table front wasn’t RIGHT on the border of image however.) I loved the lined ‘molted’ texture in old woman’s arms till I noticed it too in younger women!  Overall I feel this artist has done two most effective collage story telling images!  The style and detail seems appropriate for educational stories perhaps, and possibly some trade needs.  “


 Now for the crab images…. again good color usage and page design…simple and clean and focused. Moves the action of the story nicely! Like the characters and situation too….good expression change in a very limited possibility of change!  ;)


BUT AGAIN….the ‘sand’ looks like a wood fence…the texture/grain of sand (if that’s what it is) is horizontal, and this is vertical. VERY unnecessarily distracting!

Here is a description of the above illustrations from Kendra:

The girls illustrations were for a short story (written by Sona Charaipotra), printed in last month’s Girls’ World magazine.

The hermit crab illustrations are part of a flip book I created for a collage presentation at the local elementary school.

Kendra Shedenhelm is an artist living in Croton-on-Hudson, NY with her husband, their 7 year old son, Archer, and two cats, Tyco and Leo Lionni. You can see more of her work at

I want to thank Chris for taking the time to share her expertise with us. It is much appreciated. Here is the CATugeau Agency website link:

Chris and I admire the artists who put themselves out there for the betterment of all!

Here’s how you can participate:

For the next few months illustrators can submit two consecutive story illustrations for critique by CATugeau Agency. Each Sunday one illustrator will be chosen and their two 2 SEQUENTIAL illustrations – not just 2 pages of illustrations with the SAME “story/characters‎” will be featured and discussed.

If you do not have an agent and would like to be featured and hear what you should do or how it could be tweaked to help you sell your work, then please send Two SEQUENTIAL illustrations – not just 2 pages of illustrations, but two with the SAME “story/characters‎” to:

Kathy.temean (at) Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide. Please put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and include a blurb about yourself that I can use to introduce you to everyone.

If everyone likes this, we will continue until the end of the year.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATORS: Remember I’m always looking for illustrations I can use with articles I post. Send to: Kathy.temean (at) Put ILLUSTRATION FOR BLOG in the subject area. Remember all illustration need to be 500 pixels wide. Include a blurb about yourself, too.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted in Agency News, artist information, Artists Q&A, association of Jewish Libraries, Children's Publishing Art, industry tips | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Cat Nip Series: artist adventures in learning interviews…..

Christine Kornacki is the honored first artist interview in our new CAT NIP SERIES.  Artists take many different roads in their learning, teaching and ‘doing’ careers, and I thought it might be fascinating to share a few of those adventures and stories with you. There might be one or two that would sound good to you readers at this point in YOUR careers, or you might pick up a tid bit of great information along the line.

Kornacki photoChristine Kornacki, seen here on a trolley in San Francisco,  has been a ‘CAT’ artist since 2008. Happily not long after joining us, she was chosen as the first FEMALE artist (!) for an American Girl Doll book illustrator for Cecile and Marie-Grace, the A.M. New Orleans girls. Quite an exciting way to break into children’s illustration!  And several lovely books graced with her oil paintings have followed. BUT she wanted to go back to SCHOOL and get even better………

Tell us about how your Masters Program is set up Christine:

The Hartford Art School Low Residency MFA in Illustration is truly unique compared to other programs for illustrators.  Designed and run by Murray Tinkelman, the program provides students the opportunity to meet and work with leading illustrators from all over the country without having to put their careers on hold. It is the only Low Residency MFA dedicated exclusively to illustration.  Unlike other programs, we only meet three times a year for a week or two,  spending most of that time traveling to different parts of the country and meeting and learning from other illustrators.

In the summer we meet for an intensive two weeks of classes at the Hartford (CT) Art School. There we take a variety of studio classes such as Children’s Book Illustration, Advanced Digital Illustration, History Of Illustration, and Marketing and Promotional classes.  In between Classes we are visited by local illustrators who share their unique paths in the illustration world. There two weeks are designed to stimulate and enhance your skills.

In the Spring and fall we travel to different cities. Over the two years we will visit New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Dallas.  These traveling trips are a week of non-stop lectures and studio visits by leading illustrators in that area. These weeks are designed to open your eyes to the vast world of illustration.

Meanwhile, we are traveling and studying with other working illustrators from all over the world. I have created deep and lasting relationships with those living in Ohio, CA, Oregon and even Latvia.  I’ve learned valuable information from each of them…working alone we can forget how valuable these relationship really are.

We spend the time between our travel periods working at home. A major part of the program is a thesis project we are developing. At the end of the two years we have to present a portfolio in our desired field. For me, my thesis will be a series of children’s book stories that I am writing and illustrating. I’m n constant contact with my thesis advisor, artist Bill Thomson. We are continually emailing back and forth  about my progress.

Kornacki father winter

Kornacki tree image

Tell us why you chose this program particularly and why at this point in your career:   A few years ago I had decided I needed to push my career to the next level. I’ve been working successfully, illustrating children’s books for many years, but I knew there is always room for growth. I really wanted to begin writing my own children’s books as well as illustrating them. I need a program that could help stimulate and focus my intentions. I looked at several programs, but none of the others provided me with opportunity to learn and grow without having to put my career and life on hold to go back to school.  I didn’t want to take online classes. I work at home alone all the time so I wanted to have real-world in-person connections with other artists. This program gives me the drive to advance my career, get outside of my comfort Zone, and continue my life and career simultaneously.

Tell us more about the highlights of your intensive trips:  While I knew traveling was a part of the program, I didn’t expect the eye opening experiences I would take home with me!  On our San Fran trip we spent one day visiting the studio and private collection of illustrator Alice “Bunny” Carter; the next day we had presentations by Lou brooks and Robert Hunt.  In NYC we met everyday at the Society of Illustrators, visited the studios of children’s book illustrators Ted and Betsy Lewin, then followed with lectures by Donato Giancola, Peter DeSeve, and Yuki Shimuzo. These are just a few of the big names I could mention!  At night my classmates and I would hustle around the city visiting local museums like the Legion of Honor and the MET of Art etc! I am halfway through the program now and looking forward to LA and Dallas!

Bunny Carter filesBunny Carter with students

What educational breakthroughs…or advise…did you personally experience?

During each presentation the artists share how their careers have changed over time. It’s incredible to see how the work of illustrators Like Nancy Stahl and Lou Brooks have truly evolved with the times.  The one all-inclusive big theme each speaker mentioned was how they got their big break.  Almost every artist told us a story about how they did a personal project that lead to an explosion of their careers.  It’s these personal projects that illustrators did for their own fun and pleasure that truly let them shine. That’s when your portfolio can grow to the next level and clients can SEE our real enjoyment in our work.

What artist(s) that you have met had the most influence on your development in this course?      There are so many artists! Donato Giancola, Robert Hunt and C. F. Payne’s work are absolutely stunning and they are a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.  But I have to say that children’s book illustrators Ted and Betsey Lewin, and Dennis Nolan Have made the biggest impact on me.  All three of them have worked with me on writing and developing stories. Story writing is a beautiful new world that I have immersed myself into this year and it’s been extremely eye opening. The times I have spent with all of them have changed my life and work in way I could have never predicted.

Betsy LewinBetsey Lewin with some of her work

I am halfway through the program now and I feel that my work has already grown by leaps and bounds.  This program is a magical combination of classes, lectures, and pure inspiration.  I am exploring things like story telling and building content between the lines in each new painting I create.  The time I have spent with my classmates, faculty and visiting artists is priceless!

Thank you so much for sharing Christine!  I don’t know about you readers, but I’m looking forward to hearing more about the second half of the program perhaps!  Certainly glad CATugeau agency will be a part of her future as well!

Xmas cover Kornacki Print cover Sparkle box KORNACKIa few of Christine’s most popular books!

Posted in Agency News, artist interviews, Artists Q&A, Children's Publishing Art | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

real life and art….. personal reflection

We personally had an amazing weekend of relaxed busy fun when my agency partner and daughter Christy Ewers came with her husband Christopher and daughter Billie to visit us in VA. A long hard drive for a 2 1/2 yr old, and too short, but we were so grateful and had such a good time.  While walking in CW (Colonial Wmsbrg) with the family on Sat. the fact of history, art and real life overlapping constantly hit me.  It’s all around us down there, one reason we love it so here.  The reminder that things change, life changes, but it stays the same as well, is felt.  The gratitude of what has gone before, often at great cost, and how we shouldn’t lose site of that, is also in the air there.  Here we are freely walking the streets of history with a new generation of children who need to KNOW and appreciate it all.

Billie's favorites

and then Billie, our ‘research assistant,’  just HAD to visit the Wm and Mary CW bookstore there in CW (of course!) and look what they found!

CW coloring book Iosa and BillieThis is a coloring book done by Ann Iosa a few years ago with all CW images for the younger set.  such fun for Mama too!  Art and life mixed up for sure!  And there is another by a past agency artist Margie Moore called The Horses Tale which is also a wonderful CW story.  Come on down!

Had to include an image showing how things stay the same….and NOT!  this is Billie and me taking a break on the ‘Memom Swing’ (names of all 7, so far, grandkids on it) 2 yrs! memom swing two years B

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Cat Nips: Simon Kaplan’s Pic Bk hints!

well worth a close read and copy….. thanks Simon for this check list!!!……

“READ ME,” WHISPERED THE MANUSCRIPT TO THE EDITOR: Formatting your manuscript for maximum visibility

written by Simon Kaplan from Picture Book People Newsletter

Years ago, when I was an editor at Henry Holt and Company, a visiting author looked around my tiny, paper-laden office and indicated a pile of manuscripts. “Are those all the people who you’ve kept waiting for way too long?” He asked pointedly. “No” I replied, showing him a bookcase that contained several shelves on which manuscripts were stacked deep and wide. “Those are.” He looked shocked.

THE REASON If you’ve never been inside the office of an editor or literary agent, it’s hard to imagine the volume of submissions that cross either one’s desk. If you’re submitting your work for an editor’s or agent’s consideration, it makes sense that you do everything you can to make the experience of reading your work as easy as possible. Before an editor reads a word of your manuscript, he or she notices the way it’s presented. Or rather, the editor or agent doesn’t notice the way it’s presented—which is what you want. You do not want your submission to be rejected because it’s difficult to read. You do want the format of your manuscript to be inconsequential so that the content stands out. You want your manuscript to whisper “Read me” so that the overworked editor takes notice and reads. So save your creativity for the storytelling, and format your submissions in the way that’s commonly accepted as standard.

THE FORMAT—A CHECKLIST: If an editor or agent to whom you’re submitting a manuscript requests a specific format, follow the requirements. If there is no set format, here’s the generally accepted way of doing things, presented in checklist format for ease of use.

Your work should be typed in Black Times New Roman 12 point Double spaced.

It should be Aligned left—the right-hand margin will be “ragged”— and have One-inch margins on all four sides Page numbers centered at the bottom of each page Page header at the top right-hand corner of each page following the title page that includes your last name/title of book The End in italics, centered, at end of manuscript.

If you wish to or feel you need to show page breaks, do so by including an extra line space. You can center a -; *; or # in the line if you feel you’d like to make more of a statement.

Picture books don’t require a separate title page, so your manuscript should include a title page formatted as follows: Aligned left and single spaced near the top of page are your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address—each on a separate line. Word count should appear in the top right-hand corner. About halfway down the page, the full manuscript title should be typed. A double space and then “by [Your Full Name].” Another double space and begin the manuscript.

WHY THIS FORMAT? This format is standard because it optimizes legibility, navigation, and information. Black ink stands out most clearly; the 12-point font is neither too big nor too small. Times New Roman is a serif face that draws the eye easily through the text. Double spacing ensures enough space between lines so that each line is obvious and clear without someone having to squint or transverse vast quantities of white space to get from one line to the next.

At one inch—pretty much the default in Microsoft Word—margins are generous but not excessive and so give a sense of clarity and space rather than a sense of claustrophobia. Pages that are clearly identified and numbered are easy to put together in order if they get separated on a paper-strewn desk. The author’s name and contact details make it easy for an editor to contact an author without having to track down a cover letter or search for an address or phone number.

A NOTE ABOUT ILLUSTRATION NOTES: Because picture books are so visual and rely on images in order to fully realize the story, you might be tempted to include illustration notes. Here are four reasons to think carefully before doing so:

1. Editors are skilled readers and understand the role of image in telling a story.

2. Illustration notes interrupt the reading experience and can be distracting.

3. Illustration notes signal that you’re not a pro, that you don’t understand the picture book creation process.

4. Finally, they suggest that you might have a hard time letting go of your work and entering into the collaboration that is essential to the creation of a picture book.

There are some times when you do need to include illustration notes, such as when the images show something that isn’t obvious or cannot be inferred from the text. Come away from the water, Shirley by John Burningham and Rosie’s Walk by Pat Cummings are examples of printed books in which the text and art show—and do—different things. If this kind of visual irony is pervasive and essential to the book as a whole, the illustrator notes should be included in your cover letter. If you need to provide notes on spreads—and only if it’s really necessary—include them in parentheses in italics below the text. (like this)

MAKE IT A HABIT: It’s not a bad idea for you to create your manuscripts in a similar format for similar reasons. Black 12-point Times New Roman, double spaced with one-inch margins make the work legible as you’re working on it—and your eyes matter too. Vary the fonts, sizes, and/or colors if it supports your process; but my suggestion is to use the same basic font and general format. I’m assuming that you need to number the pages—easy to do in a Word document—but that you know who you are and what you’re writing. On the other hand, in the throes of the creative process, some writers have been known to forget their own names. . . . Seriously, though. Make standard formatting a habit that you don’t have to think about. Then you’ll be freed up to do the real work, the creative work, the exciting work of creating an exceptional picture book manuscript.

Simone has been in the children’s publishing industry for more than 20 years.  She was an editor at Henry Holt and Company and then a Senior Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books.  She works as a freelance consultant to various authors, illustrators and publishing houses and puts out a free monthly newsletter about picture books.  If you would like to sign up to receive it, here is the link: http://www

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