Meeting with a picture book editor

A week ago today, I happen to meet in my neighbourhood, a picture book editor who works for HarperCollins Children’s Books. So i took a chance and asked her if she wouldn’t mind giving me a few moments of her time to discuss picture books. To my delight, she agreed and we immediately decided on a day and a place to meet.

Lydia is as passionate about picture books as I am. Our meeting went really smoothly and before I knew it, an hour had gone by. I felt my motivation renewed towards achieving my goal and my excitement rise at the possibilities ahead of me. I also had a much clearer perspective on what i needed to do in order to move forward, despite being particularly sleep deprived on that day.

We discussed my portfolio in depth , and we went through a current picture book project of mine which dummy book was still missing a few pages.

Its been a few days already since we met, so i deemed it necessary that i write down what i remembered of that day so i could keep tabs on the things i need to do before the year ends.

Portfolio review:

  • Remove all illustrative styles that I do not wish to develop further ( that includes illustrations and books published)
  • Work on depicting emotions in a more visible way.
  • Share a maximum of 15 illustrations in a consistent style featuring:
    • Children of various ages, in a variety of scenes and with various emotions
    • Character design sheet
    • Pirates and mermaids, Knights and Dragons
    • Jungle or forest animals
  • Colour work and line work

Picture Book Project Review

  • Decide whether the story is about Joy, the girl, or her cat and rework the text accordingly as currently it isn’t clear.
  • Add a moment of tension in the middle of the story ( break the linear structure of the story) to encourage readers to want to find out more, to keep reading and to keep on turning the pages.
  • Add an emotional climax at the end of the story.
  • Change the title of the story.

She said I needed to find an agent to represent me, as major publishing companies did not see unsolicited submissions. She suggested i find both a literary agent and an art agent. Or one that would represent me for both. She talked about the market and how competitive it was. She talked about her role and responsibilities at HC and how much she loved it. I’ve learned so much!

She showed me how to convey emotions either through body movement, facial features or backgrounds. She had brought along a few picture books to explain what she meant, including a book from Oliver Jeffers, and Shaun Tan’s “The Red Tree” which was a revelation for me.

And the best part of all…… she said i was gifted !

I can’t thank her enough for the time she has given me on her weekend. I feel privileged. It meant the world to a first time knackered mum to be able to talk about her love affair with picture books with someone who actually works in the industry.

And I can’t thank my husband enough for supporting me on my journey and for looking after baby while i try to develop and become what i aspire to be.

9 thoughts on “Meeting with a picture book editor

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