Resources for prospective book designers:
The publishing industry is notoriously tough to break into and requires time and patience. Internships are a great place to start but are extremely competitive. Here's a few places to start:
(Depending on how you identify, some of these may not be applicable for you)
People of Color in Publishing https://www.pocinpublishing.com/
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1057583341366113/
We Need Diverse Books: https://www.instagram.com/weneeddiversebooks/
She Designs Books https://www.instagram.com/shedesignsbooks/?hl=en
I have an idea for a book. What should I do?
How exciting! Now you should nurture it: keep working at it and thinking about it and writing/drawing. If you want to write picture books but can’t illustrate, that’s okay! Most children’s books are written and illustrated by two different people.
I think I’m ready for a publisher to look at it. What now?
Editors are the wizards who acquire books, but they can be hard to get in touch with (and for good reason—they’re super busy!). The best next step is to get an agent. I’m represented by Andrea Morrison at Writer’s House, but there are lots of literary agencies. I suggest poking around SCBWI’s website—it’s a great starting point for all things children’s book-related.
Well, what does an agent do?
A good agent will work with you to make your project the best it can be, and then send it to their contacts at publishing houses. They’ll help you negotiate your payment and rights, too (that part can be confusing). That said, a good agent is worth waiting for: make sure you’re happy and excited about your agency before you commit! It’s also worth noting that an agent is not a golden ticket to a book deal: there are often several rounds of submissions before a book finds its home.
Can I hire you to illustrate my book?
If you’re a designer or editor: oh yeah! Please get in touch with me & my agent Andrea Morrison ()
If you wrote a book that you hope to have traditionally published, you do not need to hire an illustrator. Your publisher will do that, and you won’t pay a dime. Instead, you should focus on writing the best manuscript you can. If you’d like, you can add “art notes,” which describe what you imagine happening in the pictures.
Do you do commissions?
At the moment, I cannot take on personal commissions, but thank you for thinking of me!
Any advice for breaking into the book design industry?
It’s really tough to get your foot in the door! My best advice is to be patient: most book designers have longer and more winding paths to their publishing jobs than you might expect. I was able to get a few internships under my belt before graduating. If that’s feasible for you go for it, but try not to get discouraged if you don’t hear back. They’re wildly competitive, and I’m sure most teams wish they could hire more.
If you’re an illustrator looking to get into book design (that was me!) I recommend assigning yourself design projects, and maybe even trying to design a few things that you didn’t illustrate yourself, like a book for an illustrator friend, or a photographic book, or a book with existing imagery. Look at gorgeous books on the shelf and imagine how you might approach designing a jacket, considering the barcode and spine and flaps. Good luck!