The Crash Course in Children’s Book Publishing: Illustrator’s Edition

Online | Illustration, Business of Publishing
9 weeks. Everything illustrators need to know about children's book publishing.

May 31 - July 26

Online

$499

Overview

Multi-Week Online Course

Join lead faculty Pat Cummings and Harold Underdown for this special Illustrator’s Edition of our Crash Course in Children’s Publishing. At the end of the course, you will understand how the children’s book publishing industry works for illustrators and author/illustrators, including ways to build your portfolio and engage with art-directors.

  • 9 weeks programming (a blend of pre-recorded and live lectures)
  • Live Lectures take place on Wednesdays, 8pm – 9pm Eastern (May 31, June 7, June 14, June 28, July 12 & 26)
  • Pre-recorded lectures fill in the weeks between live sessions
  • Additional resources will be released to supplement weekly learning
  • Optional Live “Drop-in” Hours beginning on Friday, June 2 at 11am Eastern
  • Ongoing discussion threads with engaged faculty responses
  • Two hands-on sessions that will help build your portfolio
  • Post-course 1:1 mentorship session included to discuss a work-in-progress and/or publishing related questions
  • Closed captions available at all live sessions, and in recordings
  • 40 participants max

Why This Workshop?

Are you a serious beginner, ready to learn more about the publishing industry? At the end of this course, you will understand how the children’s book publishing industry works, especially in your role as an illustrator or author/illustrator. Other topics include the editorial process, publishing, marketing a book for children, teens, or young adults, and how to build a portfolio that grabs the attention of agents and editors.

You will have a variety of opportunities to engage with faculty, guests, and creative peers, including live lectures, “drop-in” office hours, our virtual platform’s discussion board, and more.

This course includes a 1:1 written critique and consultation. You will be matched with a mentor for the 1:1 in a field that aligns with your needs as an aspiring children’s book illustrator. This mentor match and submission for the 1:1 will take place following the live sessions of this course.

During this course, you will:

  • Explore genres of books, types of publishers, types of markets; fiction vs. nonfiction, flat fee vs. royalties, schools and libraries, etc.
  • Find best practices for starting out as a professional illustrator in the children’s market.
  • Discover equipment, software, organizations, and services to help get you started.
  • Look at stages and underlying concepts involved in creating illustrations for kids.
  • Understand submissions rules and practices, including which mistakes to avoid, along with portfolio basics.
  • Learn about pitching to, and working with, an art director.
  • Learn about how publishers sign up manuscripts and how to make sense of contracts.
  • Discover the illustration process for picture books, illustrations, book jackets, and more.

Feedback Expected

  • Informal Q & A sessions held at all live programming.
  • Post-course consultation/mentorship session with a publishing mentor to discuss work-in-progress and/or publishing-related questions.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You want to illustrate for children but don’t know how to get started. Our goal is to demystify children’s publishing and answer ALL of your questions about the process.
  • You’ve written and/or illustrated a story for children but have no idea how to submit it to publishers. This course will give you best practices for revising and submitting your work.
  • You are a trained illustrator or fine artist, and want to expand your skill set to include illustrating books for children. We’ll give you a behind-the-scenes look at all that goes on, from submission to publication.
  • You are a serious beginner. Tired of exhaustive online searches, hard-to-sift-through information, or lack of practical advice? This course is a great way to get a jump start on your goals.
  • You’re ready to devote some time to learn and practice. This course offers long-term support over 8 weeks, and allows you to learn at your own pace.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

This course runs for 9 weeks with a blend of live and pre-recorded lectures. Live lectures are held on Wednesdays at 8pm Eastern (specific dates are noted in the agenda below.) There are also weekly live Zoom “Drop-in” Hours with faculty. These are optional but encouraged.

*Note: Your 1:1 consultation with a carefully selected mentor is scheduled after the final session of the course, at a mutually convenient time to you and your mentor.

The course is divided into 9 sessions, each with a different topic.

Pre-Workshop
One week prior to your course, you will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers, and engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards).
Week 1
Opening Session: Introductions & Course Overview

Wednesday, May 31 at 8pm Eastern (Live)

  • Brief introductions
  • Overview of course curriculum
  • Tour of course platform

An Introduction to Children’s Books and Publishers (Session presented as recorded segments)

  • Types of books (picture books, easy readers, chapter books, jackets and interior illustrations for older books, nonfiction opportunities, graphic novels)
  • Types of publishers and who’s who
  • Today’s children’s book market (broad differences between trade, library, textbook, and mass market publishers)

Additional Content Released in the Virtual Classroom:

  • The Highlights Foundation’s staff book talks: concept books – graphic novels
  • Resource pages and websites

Friday, June 2 at 11am Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 2
Getting Started: Best Practices and Key Resources

Wednesday, June 7 at 8pm Eastern (Live)

  • Equipment, software, and skills
  • Organizations and community (critique groups and more)
  • Social media as a tool for illustrators

Additional Content Released in the Virtual Classroom:

  • Financial and personal considerations on insurance, taxes for freelancers, working with an accountant, retirement plans, and more
  • Keeping your audience at heart: Child development, child psychology, and authentic representation in children’s books

Friday, June 9 at 11am Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 3
Portfolios, Portfolio Pieces, and First Hands-on Assignment

Wednesday, June 14 at 8pm Eastern (Live)

  • Stages of Illustration
  • Underlying concepts involved in creating illustrations
  • Hands-on assignment: creating a picture book dummy (mocked up book) or portfolio piece

Additional Content Released in the Virtual Classroom:

  • Resource list and websites
  • Handouts to help with dummies (mocked up picture books) and portfolio pieces

Friday, June 16 at 11am Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 4
Pre-Recorded Content: Researching Publishers and Art Reps

  • Researching publishers, agents, and art reps (and what they do)
  • How to promote yourself with printed and online materials
  • Considerations for illustrators, and author/illustrators

Additional Content Released in the Virtual Classroom:

  • Art Director in conversation

Friday, June 23 at 11am Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 5
Portfolio Part II and Promotional Pieces: Second Hands-on Session

Wednesday, June 28 at 8pm Eastern (Live)

  • Creating a digital portfolio vs. traditional portfolio
  • What to do when one concept is requested to “dummy out” as a book
  • Feedback on hands-on portfolio work with Pat Cummings

Additional Content Released in the Virtual Classroom:

  • Resource list and websites
  • Portfolio checklist

Friday, June 30 at 11am Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 6
Pre-Recorded Content: Submissions, Getting the Deal, and Contracts

  • Submissions
  • Being offered a project
  • The contract– basic terms and obligations
  • A brief look at special markets

Additional Content Released in the Virtual Classroom:

  • Resource list and websites
  • Video recordings of graphic novel creative on differences between graphic novels and other illustrated works

Friday, July 7 at 11am Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 7
Art Directors and the Illustration Process

Wednesday, July 12 at 8pm Eastern (Live)

  • Conversation with an Art Director
  • Processes for different projects at a publisher

Additional Content Released in the Virtual Classroom:

  • Interview with Daria Peoples
  • Working freelance with an indie author

Friday, July 14 at 11am Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 8
Pre-Recorded Content: The Publishing Process Continued

  • What editors, copy-editors, production managers, and other professionals do
  • What goes on before, around, and after your illustration work

Friday, July 21 at 11am Eastern: Optional Live “Drop-In” Hour facilitated by Harold Underdown

  • Bring your questions for open discussion
Week 9
Bringing it all together!

Wednesday, July 26 at 8pm Eastern (Live)

  • Sharing portfolio pieces and pitches
  • Closing comments and mentorship overview
  • Q & A

Additional Content Released in the Virtual Classroom:

  • Survey: Your Goals in Working with an Illustration Mentor
  • You will be paired with a mentor for 1:1 feedback and consultation, you will be asked to complete a survey assessing your publishing goals and needs. You will work with your mentor to select a time to meet and materials to exchange.
Post-Course Mentorship Session
You will be paired with a mentor for 1:1 feedback and consultation, you will be asked to complete a survey assessing your publishing goals and needs. You will work with your mentor to select a time to meet and materials to exchange.
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Commitment Required for the Best Experience

If your schedule does not allow you to attend live sessions, that’s OK! You’ll have access to the recordings. They’re posted the day after the session, and they’ll be available through August 31, 2023. Closed captions will be available on all live sessions, and recordings from live sessions.

The course also includes hands-on exercises, community interaction, and goal setting. To maximize your investment in the course, take advantage of these.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

How It Impacts Kids

Illustrated stories help kids develop language, build the power of imagination, understand their world and value their lives as they see themselves reflected within. This course educates and encourages creators as they bring their voices to this important work.

Testimonials from Our Community

“Great presentations with visuals and explanations! Pat & Harold were very attentive to make sure to answer ALL the student’s questions clearly and with great examples. Good discussions.”

“Pat Cummings and Harold are children’s book royalty. I knew I would have a great experience, but I didn’t expect so much involvement throughout the 8 weeks and especially at the office hours. I learned so much from both of them.”

“This was an amazing opportunity to learn directly from Pat and Harold. The time they took to offer feedback on everyone’s work was amazing. I’ve taken other online classes in the past and I’ve never received as much personal feedback from them as I did from this course. I also loved office hours. I couldn’t attend every one of them, but I was able to attend most of them. It was wonderful to be able to ask questions and receive direct responses.”

Meet the Faculty

DETAILS

May 31 - July 26

$499

Online

Access

When you register for this course, you’ll receive information via email to confirm.

For mini courses (one or two nights only), you’ll receive webinar links immediately to use on the evening of the course.

For longer courses, you’ll receive an invitation to your virtual classroom as the workshop approaches.

Learn more about the technology that we use for our online workshops.

Visiting Our Campus

Our campus (The Barn at Boyds Mills) is tucked away in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  It's a few hours from both New York City and Philadelphia, but worlds away from everyday life.

Line drawing of the Barn at Boyds Mills

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