Can I submit young teen book without drawings?

by Norman Brown
(Los Angeles, CA)

I finished my first book, a fantasy novel for 11-15 year olds, or so. I want pen and ink drawings included, but I have no artist to do them. Can I submit the book to an agent/publisher without them, but referencing them?


Absolutely! Because the general public sees finished books, complete with illustrations, its not widely known that the text and drawings are normally contracted separately.

In the case of picture books for children, the publisher selects an illustrator, and the illustrator shares in royalties, ofen 50/50 with the author of the manuscript.

Middle grade novels, for ages 9-12, are considered chapter books, not picture books, so it’s not likely they will contain many illustrations. Any drawings that are included will be on the advice of the designer, not often the author. Books for the 13+ age group are usually considered Young Adult novels, and teen and preteen books are very different.

Chances are, whatever age group you write for, you will not be involved in the illustration process at all. Publishers will have their own preferred illustrators, either in house or freelance. They may have a certain style of drawing they prefer or ideas about the mood or tone they’d like to see for marketing reasons.

Even if you had someone lined up to do the drawings, and you submitted them with the book, they would most likely be rejected.

In your search for an agent or publisher, you’re vulnerable enough submitting the writing. Publishers have to like the story, find it appropriate for their readership, believe the book is marketable, and find your writing and story execution almost flawless.

If you add an illustrator into the mix, the book will now be judged not only on the story, its execution, and the quality of the writing. It will also be accepted or rejected based on the quality and acceptability of the drawings. Or even on the fact that the drawings exist at all.

Your best bet is to submit the ms. as text only, and hope that the story appeals to an agent, who will know which publisher is most likely to offer a contract.

Then, if you want to see the book in print, it's best to let go of any preconceived ideas you have about how the final product should look. In most cases, it will look the way the marketing department decides it should look.

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