“Ask for feedback. All of it can be helpful, even if it’s negative.”
If travel isn’t something you can afford, connecting online or reaching out in other ways is a must. Pinpoint agents and publishers working on the type of books you want to publish and make contact. Your first dozen attempts may be met with silence, but the right timing of a polite email with a link to your portfolio can be the start of an important relationship for your career. Try to stand out while remaining respectful of the people you contact.
“Agents really enjoy receiving postcards from illustrators,” Elliott says. “They want to see a bit of your work, and it’s just nice to receive something in the mail that says, ‘Hi, I’m here. Let’s talk.’”
Sometimes landing a book deal is about bringing a fully formed project to the table, but keep in mind that some agents and publishers prefer to put the creative team together — pairing artists with writers and matching them up with certain projects. Investigate which publishers want you to approach them solo before getting in contact.
Even after putting in the hard work and making the right connections, timing is everything. You never know when your illustration style will appeal to a publisher ready to hire an artist. Continue to research the medium and market, make connections, and hone your artistic skills until the timing lines up. Perseverance is key, as getting published is a marathon, not a sprint.