The September SCBWI meeting in Columbus featured Michaela Schuett. Michaela has illustrated and author-illustrated several books, including Let's Count Fish!, The Prince and the White Tiger, and the forthcoming I am a Unicorn! (The Columbus SCBWI members actually got to hear a draft of I am a Unicorn! at a group critique meeting, and everyone was thrilled to learn that it will be printed in 2017!) Michaela shared her publication journey with us, as well as tips on how to find work in the competitive field of children's publishing.
Michaela started her career in graphic design. She spent several years in the newspaper and magazine industry before taking the leap into freelance work in 2013. Her first steps as a freelancer included joining many social media networks and mailing out promotional materials. In 2014, a doodle she posted on Twitter piqued the interest of an author, which led to her first job illustrating a picture book with Omnibus Publishing. While working on projects for Omnibus, she was contacted by people who saw her work on Instagram and the national SCBWI website, earning her even more illustration jobs. During that time, Michaela also submitted her work the traditional way, mailing postcards and submitting her manuscripts to publishers. As a result, she got an illustration published in Highlights magazine and scored a book contract for I am a Unicorn!
Michaela credits her success to perseverance and sharing her art in as many ways as possible. If she had only submitted her work one way (such as traditional postcards), she would have missed out on the opportunities she gained through social media networks--and vice versa. But by taking advantage of the many avenues available to modern illustrators, she was able to connect with a wider audience. Michaela also highly recommends taking the time to put together professional-looking promotional materials and a strong website. You want to make sure you present yourself in the best way possible. Lastly, she encouraged aspiring artists to be brave and consider every opportunity that knocks on your door--you may be hesitant to answer, but you never know where that opportunity may lead.
A big thanks to Michaela for sharing her journey and publication tips! You can find out more about Michaela and her books (as well as her graphic design work) at www.michaelaschuett.com.
If you want to learn more about COSCBWI, be sure to visit the website at http://ohiocensouth.scbwi.org. I hope to see you at the next meeting!
Note: Cover image is from www.amazon.com.