Q How long does it take to make the pictures for a book?
A It can be a long process — it usually takes months of work, and hundreds of hours planning, sketching and painting. As a result, I'm only able to make one or two books a year.
Q What were some of your favorite books as a child?
A The Little Engine That Could was one of my favorites, as was The Poky Little Puppy, The Story of Ferdinand and Virginia Lee Burton's books like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Katy the Snow Plow, to name a few. When I began illustrating and writing my own books, I looked back on many of these books, and it has really inspired me to try to create illustrated stories that might also become a childís favorite. This line of thought led to Otis.
Q Where do you get your ideas?
A Getting ideas can sometimes be hard but mostly they come from things Iím interested in or an experience Iíve had in my life. I often do many sketches to plan out a single picture. I do many variations of a character until it begins to look and feel right. Many times I have to try more than once to get to the heart of the character. Sometimes I come up with a picture I am very happy with, but I choose not to use it because it doesnít help tell the story as well as it needs to. If I like the picture, itís hard to reject it for this reason, but itís better for the book. You can see some unused sketches for Otis here.
Q Do you prefer writing or illustrating?
A I love doing both! I often imagine that Iím making a movie. The words are like the movie script, and the illustrations are the scenes I pick to tell the story visually. Both the words and the pictures have a job to do. They have to work together. When I illustrate someone elseís story, I have to love the story and want to be a part of it with my pictures. Iíve been very fortunate to work with some wonderful writers.
Q Iíve written a story for a childrenís book, do you have any tips on how to get it published?
A Everyone who plans to work in the children's book industry should get a copy of Alice Pope's book, 2011 Children's Writer’s And Illustrator's Market. This will tell you about all of the different publishers, what kind of books they publish, what kinds of books they are looking for, details on how to submit a book to them, and their contact information. Many famous books were rejected first by several publishers, so be persistent and keep trying if the first publisher you find is not interested.
Also, join the SCBWI — Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (http://www.scbwi.org/). The organization provides many resources for writers and artists working in (or hoping to work in) the children's book industry. They also host local workshops and conferences — you can find a wealth of educational material on how to prepare your artwork or manuscript and how to submit it, and can ask questions and join in online discussions.
If you are a writer, submit your story alone to publishers without artwork. Editors like to read and judge a story on its own merit. And if they wish to publish it, they want to be able to find the perfect illustrator out there that they feel will help your story come to life. Actually, the wrong illustrations for your story could hurt its chances of getting a serious look from an editor. This is just my two cents worth. But if you have a dream to work in the childrenís literature field, consider the tips above, plug in and find your own answers. Every published author and illustrator I know in the field has taken a different path to get where they are.
Q Iíve written a story for a picture book; if I send it to you would you consider illustrating it?
A Thank you for thinking of me for your story. Iím truly flattered. But unfortunately due to my publishing schedule, Iím not able to consider and look at new projects. Please donít send me your story. But please do send it to publishers. See the question above for general tips.
Q Iíve written a story for a childrenís book; may I send it to you for some feedback?
A Thanks so much for thinking of me. As much as Iíd love to, I am unable to read your story. Please do not send it to me. Please see the answers above for ideas on getting your story into the right hands.
Q Will you sign books for me?
A Yes, Iím happy to sign as many books as you want to send. Please include return postage and a note with names if you want them personalized or indicate if you just want an autograph. It is a good idea to remove the dust jacket so that it does not get damaged. Send your book(s) to this address:
P.O. Box 43038
Cincinnati, Ohio 45243
I also might be doing a book signing in your area. Check out my calendar page or friend me on Facebook.
Q Do you have a pet?
A Yes, Iím a dog lover and friend to all animals! We have two dogs, Ellie and Moon. They are Weimaraners. See a picture of them at the top of this page. The Weimaraner on some of my website pages is my beloved Stella. She is no longer with us. If you look carefully, you can find her in many of my earlier books.
We also have a handful of deer that weíve become friends with. They walk out of the woods and stare in the front window waiting for us to feed them corn. They are Sweety Baby and her two daughters, Jack and Jill.
Q What is your favorite color?
A My favorite color of all time would have to be red. I also love purple. And lately Iíve gotten into orange. We painted the door of my new studio orange. Maybe Iíll change the color every few months depending on the mood. It doesn’t take too long to paint a door.
© 2003–2013 Loren Long. All rights reserved. Book illustrations