by Sophie Cayless
1. Create illustrations of children of varied ages and ethnicities, as well as animals, moving and showing emotion. Demonstrate consistency of the same strong, developed character in different perspectives and actions. Have specific settings. Make sure your illustrations tell a story. Don't include any subjects you don't want to repeat. You may illustrate classic children's stories and songs that are in the public domain to increase your portfolio.
2. Target publishers that might be interested in your work. Look through the Children's Writers' and Illustrators' Market. Look at styles and subjects of illustrations different publishers use.
3. Send postcards to art directors quarterly, with a sample illustration, your contact information, and your web presence information (website, link to other site etc).
4. Send "mini-portfolios" (3-6 representative images) to publishers who accept them. (See Children's Writers' and Illustrators' Market or publishers' guidelines.) Keep the packaging simple; don't send quirky or complicated packages which may be frustrating or time-consuming to open. You may include a SASE, and reply postcard with text such as:
____We are keeping your samples.
____Please send more samples.
____Samples are not suitable for our needs
(I sent a group of samples to Charlesbridge once and received a nice letter back explaining the strengths and weaknesses of my work.)
5. Establish a web presence and advertise it. You may create a blog and/or website or display your art at sites like picture-book.com or childrensillustrators.com . Remember that you can post your illustrations on the national SCBWI website, scbwi.org .
Good luck and happy summer!!
© Sophie Cayless, 2011. All rights reserved.