A year ago, I wrote this post about Illustration notes with some tips on how to check if your notes are necessary. I was cocky then and thought I knew it all.
I WAS WRONG.
You see, I thought illustration notes were for the illustrator.
I thought if the editor's going to delete them before the illustrator sees them, then there's no point in putting them there in the first place.
The truth is that I didn't know what (or whom) illustration notes were for.
Truth: Illustration notes are NOT for the illustrator.
The purpose of illustration notes should never be to tell the illustrator how to tell their part of the story. It is likely that the illustrator will see few, if any, of the notes.
Truth: Illustration notes may be needed in a manuscript.
More than ever, the text and art of picture books interweave to tell a complete story. Many times a writer needs to explain the parts of the story that will be in the art. An illustration note may be the most effective way to do that.
Truth: Illustration notes are for the Editor/Agent reading the manuscript.
Writers who are trying to sell a story need to be clear and efficient. If a vital illustration note is missing, and the story isn't clear, it's likely to get a pass. On the other hand, if the story is buried in unnecessary notes, and isn't efficient, then it will also likely get a pass. A manuscript that clearly and efficiently tells a story that hooks begs to be a picture book, then it will likely get sold.
Remembering these truths has helped me put in the right balance of illustration notes in my manuscripts.
How do you know when you need to add an illustration note?
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)