Nancy's Books

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Today, I’m so happy to have the talented illustrator, Alison Davis Lyne, visit my blog. She has illustrated picture books and has an art column in the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) newsletter.  

Just WHAT Does An Illustrator  DO?? 

When an illustrator is chosen to illustrate an author's PB manuscript, it's the beginning of a working partnership between the publisher, writer and illustrator. Most of the time the writer has already done the work of writing the manuscript and any revisions that the publisher suggests. When the publisher is satisfied with the manuscript, the Art Director and Editor will chose an illustrator that fits the tone of the manuscript and the publishing house's “look.” 

When I get a manuscript, I immediately begin reading and planning how I think the picture book ought to look. Every illustrator has a different work flow, but I usually start out by laying out the text of the manuscript on a 32 page “book chart.” I continually change it up as I also start very rough sketches, or thumbnails. You can see an example of how I work this below. 


The thumbnails take but a moment to change so it's easy to try out different ideas, and discard them just as easily if they don't work out. Very much like writers make up a outline of how they want the story to flow.....and can change it quickly with each plot change. 

Here are some of the books Alison has illustrated:

Halloween Alphabet

Thanksgiving Day Alphabet

Easter Day Alphabet

Kudzu Chaos

G is for Grits

Little Things Aren’t Little When You’re Little 
Alison is making a return visit next week. She will explain an exercise that writers can do to improve the action and flow of their picture books.  

Call for submissions for young writers: 

KidSpirit Online is a free teen magazine and website for kids that
empowers youth everywhere to tackle life’s big questions. KidSpirit
provides a creative internet publishing outlet for teens around the
globe to share original essays, poetry and artwork.
Call for submissions for adult writers:
Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine is an online publication for ages 13 and up. It publishes 2 pieces each month—story and/or poem. Authors receive a $25 gift certificate.

Check out more contests on my blog:


  1. This is very insightful. Thanks, Alison, for the info, and thanks, Nancy, for this post.

  2. Alison is a true professional. The more writers can learn about what editors and art directors want in the way of leaving space for illustrations, the better are our chances of garnering a contract.