Frequently asked questions
Thank you so much for your interest in my work!
How did you get into children’s publishing?
I have been a huge fan of children’s literature my whole life. I received a BFA in Illustration from MassArt and in my time there fell in love with printmaking, primarily etching and letterpress. While I was in college, I worked at a children’s bookstore, which is truly what spurred on my love of picture books. I got the best education I never asked for while working in the bookstore. I was exposed to every new title coming out and became familiar with authors, illustrators, publishers. This knowledge continues to help me today.
I stayed at the bookstore after college and began to add on working at a letterpress. That led to me eventually getting a job managing the letterpress shop for Smudge Ink, a stationery and design company. In 2012, while I was printing for them, I also started designing illustrations for Smudge Ink’s greeting cards, which was the beginning of “E. B. Goodale for Smudge Ink”, which continues as a brand today. All the while, I was sending mailers out to publishers, never having lost interest in breaking into publishing. Illustrating for stationery helped transform my illustration style and made me think a little bit more commercially. Before I knew it I started to get more of a response to the work I was sending out.
In 2015, Julia Denos and I teamed up together to pitch Windows, which was acquired by Candlewick Press and has gone on to earn some exciting accolades. Windows’ success helped me get other illustration offers and since then I have also sold my own manuscripts as well.
How do you create your illustrations?
I find the most excitement by combining different techniques. I often will start with a drawing and create line work using oil paint or ink (Noodlers is my favorite brand.) I make backgrounds using some sort of printmaking technique, usually monoprint or etching or letterpress. Once I have a background and linework complete, I will layer them together using Photoshop, and then sometimes add extra color details by painting with watercolor, scanning and dropping them into place digitally. I am always striving towards imperfection because it is so easy to “clean up” everything when compositing in Photoshop. I LOVE the mistakes that happen in printmaking. When I am making art for myself, I print etchings and then paint directly on top with watercolor. Someday, I hope to make a whole book that way and drop my computer out a window.
I have written a book. Will you illustrate it?
This is probably THE question I am asked the most. Thank you for asking! Here’s the deal:
There is a common misconception that if you have written a children’s book, you need to find an illustrator before selling it to a publishing house. This is not true! If you are writing a picture book and are hoping to publish it with a traditional publishing house, you do not have to find an illustrator. The publisher’s creative team will choose and hire an illustrator directly once they have acquired the manuscript. Very often, an author and illustrator of the same book will have zero contact with each other, a fact which surprises most people, even me.
To that end, I only consider illustration jobs through my agent, Lori Kilkelly at LK Literary.
What children’s publishers or agents do you recommend?
Finding an agent and/or publisher is personal. I can't recommend any specifically...you really just have to find the right fit. When it comes to publishers, my best advice is to go to a bookstore and read and read and read. Find books that are similar to what you want to write and research the publisher and editor involved. Look up the publisher’s submission guidelines and read them carefully. You want to make sure you are a good fit and put together a thoughtful submission in order to get the best response.
If you are looking for an agent, keep in mind that they want to see that you have a body of work, not just one story. Or if you are an illustrator, a cohesive portfolio rather than just a few images. They want to see that you are a continuous source of ideas! Look at the submission guidelines on the agent’s website and again, read them carefully. Be respectful and polite in your correspondence.
Should I get an agent?
Not every illustrator or author has an agent. I find, personally, that having an agent is a great support system for my career. My agent handles contracts, illustration job offers, book pitches, legalities, helps me plan my schedule, visits conferences and meets with people in the industry to help promote clients AND is a mentor and cheerleader wrapped in one. Not every agent works the same and sometimes it takes some trial and error to find a good fit.
If you don’t have an agent and don’t want one OR are in the process of finding one, you should still continue to send promotional materials such as postcards or book pitches into the slush pile at your favorite publishers. It can feel like mailing into the void, but you never know who is taking notice. It took me 10 years of doing just that before getting my first picture book contract. When I went to meet with the publisher, they pulled out a file of my postcards going back many years! They had been paying attention all that time.
NOTE: Once you get an agent, your job of self-promotion doesn’t end. After all, it’s up to YOU to be creating new work all the time and getting it out into the world. Your agent can only assist you, not do it for you.
I want to be a published, what should I do?
There is no one route to being published, but here are some tips that might help:
Find a critique group or support system of people that you trust to read and/or look at your work and give constructive criticism. Practice taking criticism. Be patient and thoughtful. Do things over and over again.
Look at a copy of Writer's & Illustrator's Guide to Children's Book Publishers and Agents
Read Publisher’s Weekly and look at the Children’s section to learn about the industry. Read the deal reports where you can see what agents are selling and what editors are buying.
Get a subscription to The Horn Book
Follow authors and illustrators you admire on social media. Look and listen and start to get a feel for how the industry works.
Research. Be patient. Be resilient. Do the work.
If you are trying to break into children’s publishing, whether you are writing or illustrating or both, this is my best advice:
Don’t take anything personally. Be prepared to get rejected, critiqued, etc and don't let it get you down. Keep drawing. Keep writing. Make work that sings true to your heart but don't get too attached to one story or image. Your work will get better and better the more you do it and you can always come back to old ideas later. Keep making new work and keep submitting!