Sunday round-up: tips for picture book makers

Over on Twitter we sometimes post publishing insights and tips. So they don't get completely lost in the ether, you can also find them here! These tips were first tweeted on Sunday 7th March 2021.

Picture book makers! Here is a round-up of our top tips for developing your work:


  1. Whether you’re an author or illustrator, do your market research. It’s important to know what books have already published so that you know how to set apart your submission/work from the competition.

  2. Authors: you *do not* need an illustrator on board to submit your text to an agent or publisher. On the most part, publishers will pair authors and illustrators themselves.

  3. Illustrators: speculate to accumulate. In other words, when it comes to your portfolio, create the work you want to be paid for. Want to illustrate picture books? Then focus on creating samples in that reflect this. You’ll help publishers see just what you’re capable of.

  4. Authors: whatever your picture book is about, can you sum it up clearly in one line? Your future agent, editor and the sales, marketing and publicity teams working for your future publisher will all need to buy into the key themes in your text, so make sure you know them to begin with.

  5. Illustrators: look at key picture book trends and populate your portfolio with the ones you like. Bravery, friendship, family, dinosaurs, unicorns, poops and parps (seriously) – these themes are popular in the picture book world and these are the samples lots of publishers would like to see.

  6. Authors: those key themes we just mentioned apply to you too. The original ideas that strike like lightning are brilliant – but at times they can seem like gold dust. Writing is a craft, and by using key themes as a starting point you will always find a way to write, even when inspiration doesn’t exactly strike.

  7. Illustrators: there is no one way to do anything, and this applies to how you choose to create your art. Develop your craft the way you want to. Don’t worry about what other people are doing or saying – how they create is their business – do what’s right for you.

  8. Authors and illustrators: you don’t *have* to get an agent – not everyone who’s published has one. That said, there are *a lot* of things that an agent can help with, including getting your work in front of publishers, negotiating contracts and guiding your publishing career in the right direction.