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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

Hours

  • Tue- Friday10 am - 4 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 5pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm

 

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Picture Books We Love

How to Publish a Picture Book - Pt. 2

In a follow up to yesterday's post about books about publishing for kids, let's turn our attention today toward books for grown-ups. We get a lot of questions from customers interested in learning about how picture books are created or published, usually with the hope that they can launch their own children's book career. Our best advice is to read, read, read. We might suggest one of Anita Silvey's excellent books like 100 Best Children's Books to start. Once you get a good understanding of what's being published, what's not being published, what's deemed a classic, etc., you can start exploring the children's book creation and publication process. My two favorite books on this topic to recommend are Molly Bang's Picture This: How Pictures Work and Uri Shulevitz's Writing with Pictures. With only a handful of shapes and colors, in Picture This, Molly Bang simplifies the principles of picture book illustration so that even non-artists can understand. She explains how shapes and colors and the way the artwork is composed all contribute to how the viewer will feel about the it. For example, rounded shapes and horizontal lines will make us feel safe and calm, while pointed shapes and diagonal lines will make us feel agitated and scared. Once you see the amount of thought and deliberation that goes into an artist creating an illustration (whether conscious or not!), you'll never look at a picture book in the same way again. You can read more, including how to use this book as a tool in the classroom,  in my earlier post about this book here. Uri Shulevitz offers an extremely thorough course in writing and illustrating children's books in his book Writing with Pictures. He explains everything from importance of the storyboard layout and page turns to composition to story content. Shulevitz, an award-winning author and illustrator is the best teacher on this subject and this highly visual book is filled with examples of both picture book illustration and fine art. This book is a must-have for any aspiring picture book creator. Once you understand the craft and precision that goes into creating a picture book, understanding the publishing business is the next step. I highly recommend Minders of Make-Believe by Leonard Marcus which is an excellent (and entertaining!) resource on the history of children's book publishing in the United States. To get published these days, it's really important to have a good knowledge of all the various children's book publishing houses and to be able to identify which publishing house would be a good match for you. To do that, you'll need to see who is publishing books like yours already and try to find out the editor and agents of those books. Resources like The Society for Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (they're holding a workshop here at the Museum in March) and the Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, which annually publishes a comprehensive listing of editors, agents and publishers accepting manuscripts, can be very helpful. For serious writers and illustrators, there are also advanced degree programs such as those through Simmons College that offer unparalleled opportunities and resources for children's book careers. I could go on and on but I think these books are a perfect start to exploring the world of picture book creation. As always, we're happy to field questions here at the Shop if you have any!

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