Evaluating Illustrators VS Authors | Middle Grade Ninja: Literary Agent Molly O'Neill

Evaluating Illustrators VS Authors | Middle Grade Ninja: Literary Agent Molly O'Neill



and in terms of illustrators I don't know is there a particular question you want to ask me about illustrators how do you go about choosing you know if an illustrator wants to reach out to you what's going to be your process for evaluating them and also what's gonna be your process for evaluating an author how are they similar in different yeah so the process of getting illustrators work is actually very different than the process of getting authors work although you know once there's a contract in place and a book being made it starts to look the same but for as an agent I'm having to find work for my illustrators which is a little bit different than with authors most of the time authors are doing the work and then saying sell this for illustrators I'm doing a lot more of the Hustle which is part of the reason that I have a significant portion of my list as illustrators because I want editors and art directors to be thinking of me when they're looking for an illustrator for a project they're gonna come they're gonna look at the gallery I have on my website they're gonna see who's new so it's it's a lot more of me like out there hustling reminding people like I have all these talented people looking for projects don't you want to hire them it's a lot of me sitting down you know at lunches or in meetings with art directors with my iPad and we go through portfolios and are really looking to see and it's something that I didn't I had a sense of it again from having been on the other side of the table but I think it's hard as an agent that's certainly not impossible nothing is but I think it's harder for an agent if they don't have a number of illustrators because otherwise you're doing all of that sort of hustle just for one client and it you know sometimes and an art director will come and they think they were interested in one person but then someone else's style catches their eye for something else and you kind of never know what's going to happen so I like that I have a wide spectrum of illustrators when I'm looking at illustrators when their stuff is coming into my inbox it generally comes one of two ways either they're sending me samples and a link to their online portfolio which lets me see the full spectrum of their work or they're sending me a book dummy that they have written and Illustrated that's you know on its way to hopefully being published much in the way that an author would send manuscript pages I do a fair amount of proactive looking for my own illustrators not just seeing what comes into my inbox and but either way whether they find me or I find them the thing that really catches my eye is a piece of art that isn't just beautiful to look at and that isn't static but that has an energy to it and a narrative Sensibility and when I look at the piece of art I'm wondering about the story that's happening in it and I can I can feel the sense of movement happening because when you're when you're making a picture book the way the way you use a page is really important you know the way the story moves across a page is it gonna be little spot illustrations like that is it going to be a larger image is it going to be a full-page spread you know and sometimes especially in his world Instagram has been great for illustrators it lets them get their work visible and a lot of eyeballs on it but it does mean that you get locked into this little square and sometimes that square doesn't show the full range of like how would you use the medium of a book so in the same way that an author has choices to make about stylistically how do they tell the story are they telling it straight froze are they telling it in poetry are they telling it in text messages are they telling it you know in interstitial passages of all sorts the illustrator is also making choices about what stylistically they are trying to achieve so when I'm looking whether it's in a portfolio like in a conference or online or something that's come into my inbox I'm paying attention to the story I'm paying attention to the character then paying attention to do I like this but I'm also thinking about how how it matches the form of a book and then I'm thinking about what kinds of projects would this pair well with what kind of texts ideally I'm looking for someone who's got a broad reach who maybe starts out doing picture books but then eventually moves into book covers or maybe they start with book covers and then move into something else you know the same way an author can tell a lot of different stories and that's part of what keeps them fresh and creative an illustrator needs to have sort of wide-open space to play with different formats and things so I'm looking for someone who their work could potentially work for a lot of different kinds of book shaped things and you know they're not only appropriate for one medium half of novels are a little different that's such a unique space all its own if you're doing primarily graphic novels and you're good at them there's probably and we work for you for the near future because that's a growing market and but even still I have some graphic novelists who aspire to ultimately also work on picture books so and then you asked you know how is that different than when I get a manuscript submission I think obviously one is texts and one is art but they're doing something similar in me as an author I'm sorry as an and the agent but even more like as a as a story lover if if a piece of writing a piece of art makes me wonder if if it leaves me curious and wanting to turn the page and know more see more wanting to request those next pages wanting to know what's the scene that comes after this like how is this character gonna grow basically if it ignites something in my imagination that's usually a good sign that they're on to something that's capturing me I think a lot of writers get the advice start your story with action and I actually think that's often the wrong advice because it can lead to a scene that's a bunch of movement but doesn't have depth to it and doesn't actually reveal anything about that particular character you could swap them out with someone else and scene wouldn't look any different so but but a story that makes me wonder that engages my curiosity my sense of storytelling where I don't know you know if you tell me like oh I'm not gonna think of a good example here but I'm not gonna try because I don't want to fizzle but when when a story is even from a few pages or a few pieces of art when I can't see where you're taking me yet but I'm curious to know where we're gonna end up that's a good sign if you tell me everything if you put it all on the page and I can anticipate I know exactly where this story's gonna go I know what the ending is gonna be and I'm only on the page five that's much less interesting to me than a story that sort of waking up my sense of wonder and going like how are they gonna get out of this puzzle or where are they gonna go from here or like you know what is what is this saying about a larger question you

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