I guess I've discussed reasons for self publishing, and while I only completed one Middle Grade book that is available in ebook, I plan on doing more. The traditional publish route is everyone's ultimate goal, yes, but there's one major reason why I think I shouldn't bother querying an agent – at least not for some of my work.
I already have illustrations for my MG books. In fact, the illustrations inspire some of the stories.
I asked on #mglitchat last night (an extremely nice group of people who didn’t mind that I crashed their discussion) if publishers ever take MG manuscripts with illustrations. I've heard over and over, mainly from Writer's Market, to not even consider submitting illustrations along a manuscript. They like to pick the illustrator.
Well, I have an illustrator already: my husband.
The advice I was given was that Steve should have an online portfolio to show his credentials. If a publisher asks for that, I think it's kind of silly. If we can potentially sell a breakout novel, why can't we have awesome illustrations of our choosing?
I understand the artist may not be up to par, but Steve is a professional graphic artist. He made the Pottermore logo. He's worked on video games and graphic art for years now. If I submit my book with his illustrations, they're obviously good. They would be able to see that before considering his credentials.
Anyway, this is why I just don't think I'll bother querying some of my MG work. I know how I want it to look. I write it with the illustrations in my head, so it seems a bit lame that I have to not only try to please a publisher with my writing, but also let them make the decisions about any cover art or illustrations used.
I like working as a team on some of my writing projects. I have YA work that wouldn't need illustrations, so I could query that. As far as the MG work I'm doing, I'll keep that for my own publishing house.
Also, I read a statistic that said 1% of any genre book has a chance of being sold in a brick and mortar bookshop. [How Many Novelists are at Work in America?]
Here are some links discussing not submitting illustrations with a manuscript:
“Editors always choose illustrators; writers seldom have any input in that decision.” – writing-world.com
“It’s great to see an author who has really thought about the marketing of their work, or potential illustrations, but that is the work a publisher will do after taking it on – so it’s not necessary at this stage.” – writersandartists.co.uk
“The publisher chooses the illustrator. In fact, you cut your chances of selling in half, if you try to team up with an illustrator and submit a package.” – darcypattison.com
So, no. Submitting with illustrations is not what publishers and agents are looking for, so I won’t submit them.
In other news: expect an update later this year for the release of my new Middle Grade novel!