I try to use them as though they cost me money I don't want to spend. However, I have to admit that one might get the impression that I am wealthy. But hey, no one's perfect.
I also admit that I have more art notes in earlier drafts than I do when I send the manuscript. By the time I send the manuscript I have whittled away any non-essential ones that I might have been using as a crutch or just plain old didn't need.
Here's some tips on what should be in the art note:
1. Something that cannot be shown in the text (but is important).
2. Something that should not be shown in the text (but is important).
So, don't include colors or other details that are not integral to the story, or details that can be inferred from the text. Remember to leave most details up to the illustrator.
In Little Red Riding Hood, you wouldn't need:
I'll likely come back and update this post at a later date and update with examples, but for now, hopefully this will suffice.
Here's how to portray an art note.
This method was passed along by my co-Agent, Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary Agency. I use it currently as well and have never gotten any negative comments about it.
[Art: Main character is a Dog, standing on head, viewing the world upside down.]
1. Use proper capitalization.
2. Use proper punctuation.
3. Right justify.
4. Make blue so the reader can easily skip over when just reading the text.
5. One point smaller font (same font).
I've just recently interviewed Frances Gilbert / Doubleday, for Children's Book Insider, and she agrees that one should do art notes properly but not stress too much about them.
I doubt anyone ever rejected a book they loved because of an art note. Still, in the interest of professionalism, write only essential art notes, in the best way possible. Good luck!
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