Friday, July 29, 2011

Networking in New York with Children's Book Publishers


Last week I made another trip to New York to network. All the three days that I was there were oppressively hot, but it didn't dampen my enthusiasm and excitement. I mostly came for Networking Dinners with editors and agents organized by NJ SCBWI. The dinners were a fantastic opportunity to meet editors and agents personally and have a chance to make a connection and let them see the person behind the work.

I'm very grateful to Kathy Temean for all the events. She is truly the biggest advocate for emerging writers and illustrators and really cares about their success and careers.
While I was in NY for three days, I decided to really make an effort to show my portfolio around. I dread making cold calls to set up appointments as I know that most art directors are really busy these days and prefer not to see your portfolio, as they can see it online. I, however, think it's absolutely necessary to meet them personally and show your work, hear their valuable feedback, let them see how you think and talk about your work and make a personal connection with the art director. Mentioning the Tomie dePaola Award also gets some interest and I can't believe how much weight this award has.

Several art directors expressed sadness that portfolio reviews are thing of the past, as it always fun for them to see artists in person too. I noticed that people that I met before through networking or the ones that I had some ongoing conversation through new samples or emails were much more likely to set up an appointment or look at my website. Networking is crucial. Even if an art director couldn't see me personally, the phone call or email was very helpful as many did look at my website and got back to me with some comments.

Overall, my portfolio received a really good response, especially the new character studies. The piglet character was a hit. It's so good to see that my portfolio is so much stronger than it was last spring (I attribute it to my stubbornness and constant desire to get better) and that it gets a very different response this time around.

I'm so grateful to all the art directors or editors who took the time from their busy schedules to see me or answer my call or an email. It's so important to hear the feedback and encouragement and advice.


  1. It doesn't surprise me that the piglet sketches got good responses. They are so full of life you really get a good sense of character from them. They inspired me to do some myself! I have very little animals in my portfolio and character design in general is so important to bringing a character to life! Interesting to hear about the dinners, sounds like a great opportunity.

  2. I just came across your blog after seeing your award-winning illustration at the SCBWI website. I have to say I am really impressed that you are setting up appointments in New York. It all sounds very scary to me :) I really admire that you are out there going for it, and your illustrations are just beautiful. Keep up the great work.