I want to begin with the query letter intensive presented by Andrea Morrison because it was such a great intensive. I learned a lot and even wrote my first real query letter draft for a manuscript I’m calling ValenTINA.
Here are some of the notes I took:
- Personalize query letters, don’t just send them out! Basically, research who you are querying, indicate your research somewhere in your letter, and if you have met that person at a conference or something, MENTION THAT.
- Look up the genres they publish.
- Just remember that when you query an agent and you actually get them to represent you, that usually indicates a big career decision. You can consider this a for life kind of deal though things do happen and you can possibly get another agent.
- Just send queries, don’t email and ask if you can!
- 60 days is a safe check in time for response.
- Comp titles are great but if you can’t compare then don’t worry about it.
- If you want and you have them, state that your book is apart of a series.
- Talk about your project, personalize query letter, tell about yourself (everything related to writing/illustrating career, SCBWI, conferences, critique groups if not published.)
- Really make sure everything in your letter is relevant.
- Link to your site, don’t add photos to your letter.
- Paste your submission after your letter in email a couple spaces down. They really don’t like attachments!
- CHECK SUBMISSION GUIDELINES!
And to my query letter that I wrote during the intensive, I had asked her if my query was too short and she said that short and sweet is totally fine as long as I covered each points mentioned above.
And that’s all folks! Great intensive and I’ll be adding more notes on here later tonight!
From Dreaming to Doing.
You know, that’s a perfect theme for a children’s book writing and illustrating conference. Writing and illustrating DOES begin with a dream, a passion to create this piece of work that dives into the heart of the reader. To make them FEEL what you are feeling, understand and connect. The doing part is what makes the dream come alive.
Each panel reminded me that in order to make my dream a reality I must do the work and put myself and my work out there! I had so many notes from the panels that my notebook pages are currently kind of a mess.
Other than the panels, which I will post some of my notes in the near future, I had two extremely helpful and encouraging portfolio critiques from Calef Brown and Alyssa Nassner:
- Practice varying my line work throughout a piece. Almost all of my images had the same kind line thickness and the idea is to thicken the lines of the objects up close and thin them out further away. Also vary the types of line, like I do a lot of swooping motion and curves. Need to change it up a bit.
- DRAW DRAW DRAW! He wanted me to practice drawing the figure and told me to take night classes. Unfortunately I don’t have the money to take night classes, but maybe I could save up or apply for scholarships.
- He liked my more detailed pieces, the small intricate details I had with some pieces.
- He liked my color, but gave me the idea to try to work with brighter colors.
- One of the mixed media pieces he thought wasn’t working due to the two mediums fighting for attention.
this is the piece with the two fighting mediums.
- . He said in some pieces I seemed hesitant. Fix that.
- And last he told me to work on INDIVIDUAL pieces instead of stories. And focus only on illustrating instead of writing.
- I got the same advice on varying line work.
- Bring more narrative into my pieces, though she thought I was good with the narrative with my last three images.
- Liked my color.
- Suggested that I look into illustrating for middle grade too. She made this suggestion when she saw the black and white piece show above.
- Work on drawing.
- With the mixed media pieces, some were too muddy. Fix that.
- Told me to get a domain name and website (or URL) and basically said I was silly for not having one lol.
- She liked my digital pieces much more than the mixed media.
Both critiques told me I was not quite professional enough, however I was CLOSE. Both told me that my compositions are good, my light, color, and drawing are pretty good, I just need to get to that next level of professionalism and tighten up the craft. Both thought my style was consistent even with the two ways of working, which is GREAT.
Both liked the piece below the most.
It was a great idea to have two critiques. I plan on going to the next conference!