Guest Post-Will Terry-What to include in your Children’s Book Portfolio


Will Terry drops in again to give his advice on what should be in your portfolio. Check it out and enjoy!

In this video I give a list of items I feel every children’s book illustrator should have in their portfolio. Art Directors and Editors are afraid to hire the wrong artist so make sure you’re covering all the most important items. If you can think like an editor you’ll be much more equipped to show them what they want to see.

Original post here.

Guest Post-Will Terry- How Many Sketches Should You Send In?


Today we feature a great article from Will Terry in regards to how many sketches to send. No he isn’t going to give you a number if that’s what you are looking for. He stresses the importance of sending ideas that you would enjoy painting. I for one can tell you that if you send a sketch to a client that you really don’t like, nine times out of ten THAT will be the sketch they pick and now you’re miserable while executing it. Lesson learned!

Enjoy the article!


Back in my editorial days I was always coached to send in multiple sketches and ideas for the art director to choose from. Now that I’m a children’s book illustrator I’ve come to realize that sending in multiple sketches for one page is not often the best policy. The reason: I always like one better than the other(s) and often the editor or art director will pick the one I like the least. Then it’s a let down having to paint an image I’m not as happy with.

I just created the image above for a new book I’m working on “There Once Was a Cowpoke who swallowed an ant” by Helen Ketteman (Albert Whitman). My working process is to send in rough sketches for the direction I’m thinking of. Then I get feedback from the art director and editor. My goal is to make myself happy and then see if the team likes it. If they do then I move to a final drawing refining details and making any alterations asked for by the team.


Sometimes they don’t like the direction at all and ask for a new idea -offering their suggestions. I love working this way. I’ve taken the time to explore many thumbnail sketches and ideas and I don’t want to share my rejected ideas just to offer more choice. Sometimes more choice just offers more confusion. Ever tried to order at restaurant with 100 menu items? You feel overwhelmed and start to think you’re going to miss something really good – so you spend more time reading the menu rather than visiting with the people you went to have a meal with.

I’m a big believer in working hard to develop a sketch you can’t wait to paint and then working with it until you and your team come to a consensus. I’ve taken the time to do a lot of editing in my development process and I choose NOT to share that with the creative team at the publisher.


Original post is here. Be sure to visit Will Terry’s blog for more wonderful posts and information!

Guest Post-Will Terry-Do you need an Agent or Rep?


So many people think that getting an agent/rep is the end all be all.  “If I get a rep then I know I will have made it and so much work will be thrown my way that I’ll have to turn stuff away!!”  Yeah I used to think that too.  So let’s get rid of that myth from the jump.

1. Getting a rep DOES NOT guarantee that you will get work!  It is not the promised land!

Norm and I both have reps and we still have to bust a lot of pavement to get work. We have to constantly promote and market ourselves. Having a rep is a great tool and asset. But it’s just one tool in your toolbox and should never be the ONLY tool in your toolbox.

There are multiple ways to get work within our market. So look into all your options. Get info from multiple sources before you make your decision. Use every possible resource  you can to your benefit. Maximize your opportunities.

In the following video Will Terry gives his opinions on whether an agent/rep is necessary. The answer to the question is, “No.” And truthfully they never have been. But Will goes into more detail about the current market and what it takes to be successful whether you have an agent or not. Enjoy, learn and as always, take notes!

Words of Wisdom-Will Terry-Advice for Illustrators


Will Terry is a ridiculously huge attribute to the Children’s Illustration market. He continues to go out of his way to help others within our community and answer questions that up and coming illustrators have about our industry. In the following video he answers a number of questions he’s received from illustrators. So sit back, relax and enjoy. You are sure to learn something new!
Original post here.

Guest Post-Will Terry-Children’s Book Publishing In A Nutshell


Today we feature a post from Will Terry’s Blog that demistifies getting your book published.  The quicker you get to reality, the more realistic your approach will be to breaking in and the more solid your resolve should be.

Will Terry is an accomplished Illustrator and teacher whose work and contributions to the collective intelligence of the Children’s Book illustrator community is monstrous. Don’t believe me, take some time to peruse his blog and multiple videos that deal with multiple issues for up and coming Illustrators.

The original post is here.

I am often asked, “How can I get my story in front of an editor?” I’ve always tried to answer as best I can without spending too much time on any one email – but in order to tell the story I really needed to spend a little more time. Now I’ll be able to send this link!

Teeny tiny fantasy nutshell version:

You write a story – send it to a publisher – they like it – they hire an illustrator – your book is published – you earn enough money to buy a small island – the end.

Regular sized nutshell version:

An author writes a story instead of watching TV, reading a book, or hanging out with friends. He/she submits it to multiple publishers one at a time with a SASE. Rejection letters come one by one over X amount of time and they are kept in a binder by the author for score keeping. If the author is serious he/she is writing and submitting other stories while waiting for the rejection letter on the first story.

If the writer is un-agented the publisher probably won’t open the manuscript – or they will open it and send it right back with a form letter stating that they don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. If the writer is agented or if the writer attended an SCBWI conference and received publisher submission stickers to put on the package the interns will open the package, read your story, and decide if they like it..

Interns you ask? What the? Yes – the sheer number of submissions is impractical for editors to go through. The interns are instructed to pass along anything they really like. If yours gets passed up to an editor they might read it…hopefully nobody walks into the editors office, phone doesn’t ring, or coffee isn’t spilled while your story is having it’s big moment with the editor.

If they like it they might do a little research to see if there is anything else out there like it. They don’t want to publish a book that’s just like someone else’s –  unless someone else’s book did really well and then your book is exactly what they’re looking for.  If the research goes well they might contact you via email or phone to ask if you’ve submitted it to any other house. If you answer yes they might pass on it right then and there. The reasons would take many paragraphs to explain but if they love it more than their mother they might still be interested.

They might also pass on it if they don’t have room to publish any more books that year- even if it’s the best manuscript they’ve ever read. They might pass on it if books in your genre aren’t “hot” right now. There are an additional 100 reasons why the editor might love your book but send you a rejection letter. You will probably never know the real reason your manuscript is rejected. Sometimes the editors heart is broken over this.

They might ask you to make changes. This means they REALLY like it. Some unpublished authors are resistant to making these changes. This attitude will help them remain unpublished. If the author makes the changes they might take it to an acquisitions meeting. This is the meeting where the other editors are supposed to figure out reasons why they should NOT publish it. This is a safeguard to prevent dumb stuff from being published – so much for safeguards. If the other editors can’t think of good reasons that your manuscript is bad they might decide to send it to the marketing team. The marketing team is supposed to find better reasons why your book is dumb and why it should not be published. If the sales team can’t come up with any good reasons why your book will sink the company they might invent some. This is where the editors and marketing people fight over your book. This is where you wish you could be a fly on the wall.

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Words of Wisdom-Will Terry-Preparing To Become A Children’s Book Illustrator


Children’s Book Illustrator and educator Will Terry drops in with a new video where he discusses what it takes to make it as a Children’s Book Illustrator. Take notes folks!


In the video below I answer some questions from a fellow artist in Serbia who is trying to break into the children’s book market. I think many artists can relate to his frustrations and challenges so by answering his email hopefully I’m also speaking to a much broader audience. I know I get long winded but if you’re working on some art just let it play in the background and perhaps some of what I say will resonate with you. Also – feel free to disagree – I welcome differing opinions so others can have more to think about.

Original post is here.

Guest Post-Will Terry-Working With Children’s Book Editors


I’ve been working on one of the funnest books I’ve ever had the privilege to illustrate. “Skeleton For Dinner” by Margery Cuyler is due out this coming fall by Albert Whitman – and is a very cute story about miscommunication among friends. The image above is just a mock up – the real type treatments to come.

My advice when working with editors and art directors:

1) It’s a collaboration. The publisher is paying the bills. They are risking their money to make the dream happen. You and I are risking our time. We all have risk but I often hear about illustrators who feel that art decisions should be their call alone. Many of my books have been greatly enhanced by the discretion, suggestions, and requests of my employers and this cover is no exception. I had to completely re-do this cover because I broke some of my own design rules – I cut corners. I am so much happier with this current version and the input from my editors Nick Tiermersma and Wendy McClure.

2) Get to know your editors with good back and forth communication. Be clear in what your expectations, aspirations, intentions, plans, goals, etc are. Let them know how passionate you are – they want to know. Don’t make it a secret that you’re tickled to work on their project. Don’t hide the fact that you’re trying to do your best work ever. Let them understand that you value their opinion and input. After all you’re a team even though you may be many miles apart geographically. If you’re not a team player…good luck.

See original article here and Will Terry’s website here.

Guest Post-Will Terry-Can Pinterest Help Your Art Get Better?

Original article here.

Well obviously I must think so or this would be a really short post right?

First let me just say that I’m like a lot of you – “NOT ANOTHER SOCIAL MEDIA SITE!!!” I know I know – but trust me – Pinterest is worth it…and you can get in and out quickly!

For starters lets deal with that title – what if I told you that there is a way to see how your art stacks up against your competition? What if you could be that fly on the wall in the office of an editor, art director, agent, or fellow artist? What if you could know what people really think of your work? I’ll show you a very simple way to use Pinterest to do just this.

1. Make your own Pinterest account BUT do it by logging in from Facebook or choose the setting so that every time you make a “PIN” it updates facebook – reason? – so people see your pins, visit your board, and re’pin your pins.

2. In the “search” bar at the top of the Pinterest page after you’re logged in – type in something like “illustration” or “Children’s illustration” or “characters” and hit enter.

3. Click on “boards”

4. Click on a piece of art that interests you – you might want to scroll a little – pick a goody! Ok – now pick five images to “re-pin” AND – pin them to your illustration board.  (I figured all this stuff out so if I can do it a snail can do it – sorry snails 🙁 …make sure you REALLY like the images you’re re-pinning. These need to be images that you really admire and perhaps wish you’d created so be picky!  Also – if you don’t pin really good stuff people will ignore your board and that will kill this whole experiment.

5. Ok – now pin one of your own images and then over the next year repeat this ratio – a handful of other artist’s images to one of your own.  I suggest you pin from your website or blog so that if people click on them they come back to your portal – but that’s not what this post is about but you should still do it for marketing reasons. (There’s a way to download some thing-a-magiggy to your browser so you can “pin” from any site – I don’t remember how I got it to work – I think I googled “how to pin with Pinterest”)

6. Here’s a look at my illustration board on Pinterest. If you zoom in you can see how many times each image was “re-pinned” – and here in lies the magic! You get to see how many votes or “pins” each image gets including your own. In a way people are casting their votes in an impartial way – self serving! They see something they like and they re-pin it for themselves. This is more valuable than a critique from friends in some ways because it’s a rather large sample size and it’s honest. The people pinning don’t really know or care that you’re looking at the data this way -they’re just grabbing images for future consumption on their own boards.

So how can Pinterest help you improve your art? You can learn a lot by seeing what people like and don’t like. If you’re work isn’t getting re-pinned as much as the other work you pin you have some work to do – but not in the blind – because you can see exactly what images people respond to the most. You might want to make a list of the things the popular images have in common – then compare to your work. However, this could also be a little dangerous if you follow it too closely and copy what is getting votes – you could become a follower- you still have to innovate but in order to create great art you have to consume great art!

Pinterest is in my opinion a very valuable tool for inspiration, strategy, and marketing – I’m starting to get emails and messages from customers who are finding me on Pinterest – and I hear it’s the fastest growing website! so get pinning!

Guest Post-Will Terry-New Ways to Market Your Illustration


In this informative and insightful post, Will Terry delves into the current state of the industry. He deals with the changes he’s seen it go through in the duration of his career as well as the steps he’s taken to be able to continue to survive within it.
Whether you agree with his opinion or not you have to agree that things are changing. Our industry is in a constant state of flux and as artists it may simply no longer be good enough to be good or great artists.

Check out the video and let us know your thoughts in the comments. Do you agree or disagree? Can you think of others within our industry who are examples of Will’s ideology and are making their own paths and finding success? Let us know!

Guest Post-Will Terry-How much do you charge for an Illustration?

How much should I charge is a constant question we hear from many.  It can be the worse part of getting a job offer.  Having to negotiate the price you place on a job in fear of charging too much or too little can be nerve wrecking.

We’ve put up a couple of posts about how to figure out what you should charge for work and even noted a free app that takes a number of factors into effect when coming up with an hourly rate for you individually. (We’ve even listed the book Will doesn’t like in his video as an Essential Read!)  Will has a great new video up where he discusses how he goes about pricing and the number of factors that go into him making the choices he does.

He passes on a lot of wonderful advice and I hope you all listen and pay close attention.  He is always passing on wisdom and great info to his peers!

I’ve been wanting to make this video for quite sometime. I get asked all the time by students, people at conferences, and visitors to my blog – how should I price my work? In this video I share my opinions about figuring out exactly how much to charge and how it can vary depending on many factors that are happening in your life. I realize it’s a bit lengthy but I didn’t want to leave stones unturned. I wanted to have a detailed answer that I can email out whenever I get asked this question in the future.

If you’ve even wondered how much to ask for on an art project I hope my ideas help you.

For more great posts and info from Will be sure to visit his website or blog!!

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