Collaboration Made Easy (well, easier!)

in ten, not-so-easy steps (plus three)

1. Impress your editor with your professionalism. Imbue yourself with openness and willingness to cooperate.

2. NEVER directly communicate with the illustrator without your editor’s blessing.

3. Give up the idea you will have total control of your project. The book is not going to look exactly like you dreamed.

4. If you have an idea for the illustration that is not obviously in the text, run it by the editor first.

5. Resist the temptation to make demands. Requests or suggestions always make better headway. And you may (probably will) be pleasantly surprised at someone else’s interpretation.

6. If you are asked, provide photos and/or other research materials pertinent to the project.

7. Withhold your criticisms unless/until they are requested. (Only break this rule in case of emergency–like the illustrator has drawn an Eastern Snobovian Zak-yak and you specifically wrote about the Western variety.)

8. Be prepared to drop everything and promptly offer your comments (and compliments, please) when asked–even if you did have to wait thirteen months to see the sketches.

9. Be as flexible as possible if revisions are requested, even at the last minute. Your editor will LOVE you if you are willing to change your text, “Julee sat on the porch,” because the illustrator painted her climbing a tree.

10. Enjoy the process. Most authors and illustrators never get the chance to experience this level of involvement in creating their books. Celebrate!


1. PLEASE read the manuscript carefully.

2. Honor the writing. If you have an idea that requires changing the text, clear this with your editor BEFORE completing the art.

3. Remember, writers have feelings too. They wish they could draw!