Saturday, January 29, 2011

Denise Cronin: What Makes Your Work Publishable

There are two Denise Cronins in our industry, and so the first step in the right direction of your long walk toward publication is knowing which Denise you're sending your art samples to.

The one you want is right here:
Denise Cronin, Art Director and VP at Viking Children's Books
And honestly, she was so warm and friendly it made me wish I weren't just a very fast typist writer.

Actually, correction: She was warm and friendly to everyone except Cecilia Jung, her counterpart at Penguin, whom she tried to kick out of the room. But Cecilia hung around, and Denise didn't actually seem to mind, so what for a moment seemed like a death match between two famous art directors ended with a shrug.

Denise told us about Viking's deep history in publishing, where only six different people have run the company over a 78-year span. Their backlist is huge: including classic titles such as FERDINAND, CORDUROY, PIPPI LONGSTOCKING, and modern classics such as THE STINKY CHEESE MAN.

And here's what you need to show if you want your work to stand out:

Attitude. Does something have a kick to it? Let’s see a little attitude.

Drawing skills. Has the artist done his homework? Does he really understand what he's drawing?

How does somebody use color? Do they know how to use it to separate foreground from background? 

Can the artist show her the ability to expand a narrative, not just echo the text. (Can she a substory with illustrations?)

Perspective and scale: Are they always showing something head on in the same scale? You need to vary those things, but it needs to make sense in terms of the story.

Is rendered in an innovative way (making her want to take a second look at an ordinary thing)?

You want your work to get noticed, so don't send it in a plain envelope. Illustrate it, or send her a glassine one so she can have a hint of what's inside. At the least, write SCBWI on it.

Finally, here was her best line:

Audience member: My question is about money.

Denise: We work in publishing. There is no money. 

1 comment:

  1. Audience Q: What about submissions on CDs?
    Denise's A: Please don't!