How to make the perfect children’s book

Artwork credit: Maddie Frost



Check out Robyn’s rundown of the key ingredients for illustration success in this field:

Consider your audience and your buyer

As well as being perfect for the target market in both style and substance, the look and feel of the book must be appealing to the adult that is most likely to be purchasing the book. Think about the tastes and current trends that are likely to grab the attention of book buyers.

Accept constructive criticism from those in the know

The editorial and design team will have bags of experience and be directly in touch with sales people so have faith that their feedback will always be based on really valid market information. Even if changes can seem random at times, trust that the outcome will only improve sales of your book. For example, covers that are green sell less well than red covers! It’s a thing - I promise!

Be aware of global tastes with regard to facial features

It is worth having a selection of different eyes and noses up your sleeve (so to speak), and in your portfolio. Features can often be a sticking point as some looks work better in some markets than others. Design teams will often ask for options so it is worth being flexible.

Artwork credit (left to right): Top row: Dan Widdowson; Hannah Peck; bottom row: Benji Davies; Nan Lawson.

Diversity

Be mindful that your book might be sold across the globe and should appeal to all children and their families, whomever they are and wherever they are in the world.

Artwork credit (left to right): Top: Rosie Butcher; Aura Lewis; Alea Marley; Sophie Beer.

Characters

For younger children, it’s great to be obvious, but for older audiences, don’t over-egg it! When we are surprised, we don’t always throw our hands up to our faces, or gasp when we are shocked, for example, so think about more natural reactions and gestures when creating character poses. Use friends as models to get expressions and limb positions just right.

Humour

Wherever there are characters, a children’s publisher is looking for a little bit of humour, so don’t be afraid to add extra detail or funny elements. Humour appeals to all children (while subtle comedy can lend a book all-important appeal for adults, too), and can really help make your artwork stand out from the crowd. It doesn’t have to include reference to bodily functions, although – to paraphrase the great Ade Edmondson of Bottom fame – a fart is always funny…

Ben Mantle, from Giant Jelly Paws and the Pirates, written by Helen Baugh and published by HarperCollins, 2015.

Novelties

This is the terminology for any extra elements on books that add play value, so that’s anything from flaps and sliders to pull-tabs and pop-ups! Good design teams should always provide clear die-lines and briefing notes if these elements are part of the book you are working on, but it is worth becoming familiar with how these work. Spend an hour in a local bookshop in the board book section to familiarise yourself with moving parts, or buy a few novelty books from charity shops and take them apart!

Demonstrating just a handful of different activity elements that might be used to enhance 'play value' in a novelty publication (featuring interiors from the Bizzy Bear series, illustrated by Benji Davies and published by Nosy Crow).

Always ask the question

Don’t feel silly for asking your assigned designer lots of questions: they will be happy to answer anything and will be super-relieved that you asked instead of getting confused by something.

Make the best out of briefs

In my experience, a designer will always prefer to brief you in the way that best suits you. From the outset, do say if there is a particular way you like to work – or, if you are mid-project and struggling with the way it is being briefed, don’t feel afraid to ask for an alternative approach.

And finally…

…Ask your agent

We are here for you: to support, advise, and help to develop your work – and to be your champion. If you need any assistance, would like some insider advice, or simply want us to ask a publisher something on your behalf, just let us know: that’s what we’re here for!

Read more about Robyn on her Agent profile page at The Bright Agency website

New books for autumn from Bright’s artists & authors

The end of summer is in sight, and a new season means NEW BOOKS! The latest titles publishing this autumn from our brilliant Bright artists showcases the breadth of gorgeous styles across the portfolio — from bold and quirky art full of humour, to beautifully enchanting festive tales.

Among the exciting new titles soon to be adorning bookshelves, is the latest picture book from ‘Supertato’ creators Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet; the much-anticipated sequel to David Litchfield’s highly acclaimed ‘The Bear and the Piano’; and once more we return to the captivating world of ‘The Storm Whale’ to join Noi on his latest adventure. Enjoy!


SEPTEMBER

‘Look’ By Fiona Woodcock / Greenwillow Books

‘As We Grow: The Journey of Life…’ Illustrated by Richard Jones / Caterpillar Books

‘The Space Train’ Illustrated by Karl James Mountford / Little Tiger Press

‘Angry Cookie’ Illustrated by Maria Karipidou / Walker Books

‘It All Began When I Said Yes’ Illustrated by Annabel Tempest / Simon & Schuster

‘Santa Claus Vs The Easter Bunny’ By Fred Blunt / Andersen Press

‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Bogey?’ Illustrated by Tom Knight / Scholastic

‘Cinderella’ Illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle / Orchard Books

‘The Rabbit, The Dark and the Biscuit Tin’ By Nicola O’Byrne / Nosy Crow

‘The Bear, The Piano, The Dog and the Fiddle’ By David Litchfield / Lincoln Children’s Books

‘Lightning Girl 2: Superhero Squad’ Illustrated by James Lancett / Scholastic

‘You Can Tell A Fairy Tale: Little Red Riding Hood’ By Migy Blanco / Templar

‘Mrs. Claus Takes the Reins’ Illustrated by Mark Chambers / Two Lions


OCTOBER

‘When I Was A Child’ Illustrated by David Litchfield / Hodder Children’s Books

‘The Story Orchestra: The Sleeping Beauty’ Illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle / Lincoln Children’s Books

‘Christmas Gremlins’ / Illustrated by Chris Chatterton / Egmont

‘Brave and the Fox’ Illustrated by Sebastien Braun / Scholastic

‘We’re Going on an Elf Chase’ Illustrated by Laura Hughes / Bloomsbury Children’s Books

‘Snowball’ By Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet / Macmillan Children’s Books

‘My Friend Sleep’ Illustrated by Hannah Peck / Words & Pictures

‘Grandma Bird’ By Benji Davies / Simon & Schuster


NOVEMBER & DECEMBER

‘All Right Already!: A Snowy Story’ Illustrated by Benji Davies / Harper Collins

‘Frockodile’ Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis / Hodder Children’s Books


To work with Bright’s artists and authors please get in touch.

Frances Castle Illustrates Journeys of Discovery for Wide Eyed Editions


Frances Castle returns with a second fun and fact-packed non-fiction book in the Spot the Mistake series published by Wide Eyed Editions this month. Journeys of Discover is a lavish and large format, fully illustrated hardback which provides readers with an immersive, puzzle solving experience with a variety of red herrings, misplaced props and out of context objects cleverly hidden within each spread.

(more…)

Anne Wilson: Red Alert!

Anne Wilson illustrates a newly released book on endangered animals fighting to survive.

'Red Alert!' is written by Catherine Barr, published by Otterbarry Books and explodes with rich artworks by the wonderful Anne Wilson.

It takes 15 endangered creatures from the IUCN Red List - a database listing over 88,000 of threatened species which describes the global status of animals, plants and fungi. This book helps readers learn about the 15 featured creatures and what we can do to help them. Buy it here.

Anne Wilson is represented by Illustration Ltd

Anna Chernyshova Illustrates Catch That Egg!

Spring is in the air in Catch That Egg! And Anna Chernyshova’s lively illustrations seem to spring from every page of this delightful bloom-filled picture book written by Lucy Rowland and published by Macmillan.

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Jonny Duddle: The Pirates of Scurvy Sands

The Pirates of Scurvy Sands is Jonny Duddle’s swashbuckling sequel to his bestselling The Pirates Next Door and it’s OUT NOW! We welcome back the loveable pirate family the Jolley-Rogers who invite Matilda to get away from Dull-on-Sea and join them on a voyage across the sea. They land on the pirate holiday island of Scurvy Sands, run by pirates and exclusively for… PIRATES.

(more…)

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