How I present a picture book manuscript to publishers


It wasn’t really much to look at yet — just a few pages of short sentences — but this is what ABC Books first saw of Rudie Nudie. 👇

I’ve received a lot of messages recently, asking for advice on how an author would present an idea for a picture book to an agent or publisher, and in particular whether to include illustration notes. So, (as promised) I thought it might be useful to show how I do it.

It’s the title and the story I want people to focus on, so for these I use clear, black typeface and all the other type is a pale grey or aqua colour. I want to make it easy for a commissioning editor to find my picture book text on the page, and read it. This sounds really obvious, but I make sure I don’t hide my story amongst a jumble of other words.

I tend to divide the text into double-page spreads, so the publisher can see how the book will flow, but not all authors do this. Rudie Nudie is a 24-page picture book, and you can see I’ve set aside the first three pages for the half title and title pages, so the text starts on page 4 (children's picture books are generally 24 or 32 pages long).

If I am intending to illustrate the book myself, I do often write a few illustration notes, using a paler, coloured type so they don’t jump out from the page at first glance. If the text is intended for another illustrator, I am careful not to include too many instructions — in fact only if the illustrative content is not evident in the story, or if the intention is for the illustrations to deliberately contradict the text. As an illustrator myself, I know I prefer to interpret the story myself without too many suggestions from the author at this early stage.

Good luck! Maybe you’ll find a different way to present your ideas, but hopefully seeing how I do it will give you a starting point. I wish you all the best for your adventures in picture books.


 Little Gracie enjoying RUDIE NUDIE, a picture book by Emma Quay (ABC Books) - - picture credit:  @our_small_adventures

Little Gracie enjoying RUDIE NUDIE, a picture book by Emma Quay (ABC Books) - - picture credit: @our_small_adventures