Submitting Finished Art with Picture Book Manuscripts


Dear Heather…

Do not finish that artwork. If you’re an illustrator as well as a writer, submit a full sketch dummy of the project and only one or two sample finished pieces (as pdfs or photocopies, not original artwork) to showcase your artwork. Also be prepared to show a full art portfolio upon request. It’s almost certain your acquiring editor and book designer will have some revision suggestions for the illustration dummy, just as they would for the text-only manuscript. If you’re not an illustrator by profession or training, don’t submit artwork at all; the manuscript will be matched with an illustrator by your acquiring editor. Artwork that’s less than professional or in any other way not exceptional can hurt a submission by creating a negative impression. Writers who are not also illustrators (a category that includes me) must trust someone else to do the visual storytelling.

Happy writing!
The Editor


  1. Would also like to know if you are submitting art with your story, do you have to know how to lay out the type and design the book or will an art director do that with your original art?

    • A designer will be assigned to your book. S/he will choose the font, lay it out, etc. Book designers and illustrators work closely together to determine the overall look/presentation of the book.

      • I have another question. When I submit my manuscript do I leave in the action content that I have laid out? For example in one scene I wrote “she shuts the door” as the action of the character. Do I just submit the dialogue of the story? Also, my book is written from characters in my life so I want to make sure they are portrayed properly by the illustrator, will I get a chance to have my say in how the characters are drawn?

        • Heather, do not include action notes. Illustrator Stacy Innerst’s guest post on gives you a glimpse into the reasoning behind that: Regarding the look of the characters, if the character isn’t a historical person who MUST be portrayed with some resemblance to the real life person (as in, say, a picture book biography) the look of the character is generally left to the artist. I know that’s hard for a writer—we get powerful images in our head of characters, setting, etc., as we write the story. The rule of thumb with picture book creation is that the author handles the text and concept parts of the storytelling and the artist handles the visual storytelling. That’s why both creators are listed on the cover and split the royalties. The final product is the collaborative result of author and illustrator (with varying degrees of input from the editor and book designer).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Picture Books