book covers

Diversity Panel 2015

by Adria Quiñones

diversity panelThe last year has seen heightened awareness and active discussion about the importance of providing diverse books for children. Inspired by the recent Children’s Book Center report on the lack of diversity among writers of children’s books and the rise of the We Need Diverse Books campaign, in February SCBWI offered a panel discussion about diversity with six professionals: authors Matt De La Peña and Rebecca Alexander, illustrator Eric Velasquez, publisher Stacy Whitman (Tu Books, a middle grade and YA genre fiction imprint at Lee & Low) and editor T.S. Ferguson (Harlequin Teen), moderated by Metro-NY Co-Regional Adviser Bridget Casey.


Top 5 Tips for a Good Portfolio

by Lori Richmond

SCBWI6Erica Finkel, Assistant Editor at Abrams Books, and Maria Middleton, Associate Art Director at Abrams Books, stopped by to give NY Metro SCBWI-ers the inside scoop on what makes a good portfolio. Illustrators, take note! Here are Erica and Maria’s top tips for marketing yourself:

  1. Presentation is everything

Illustrators don’t need to spend a ton on a portfolio, but the work should be bound in a book. Maria and Erica recommend showing no more than 10-15 pieces of artwork. Binders with sleeves, photo books with mounted prints, and screw post books are all good choices that will make a portfolio look put-together and professional.

  1. Mix it up…

The work in a successful portfolio demonstrates a range of emotion, body positions, perspective, settings, seasons, and characters of different ages. Mix it up even further by including samples that show characters in background environments, and some that show characters on plain backgrounds.

  1. …but not with styles

While showing a range in subject and setting will get an art director’s attention, showing too many styles will not. “It can be really confusing,” says Maria. “Books that show a single, consistent style are stronger.” Illustrators with two (very) strong styles should group them in their book accordingly.

  1. Postcards can get you hired

One important thing an illustrator can do is to mail out promotional postcards every 2-3 months. Art directors keep files of the cards they receive, and those files are the first place they’ll look to find an artist to pair with a manuscript.

  1. Don’t lose your line

We’re in the age of all things digital, and artists are creating amazing things in Photoshop. Sometimes the line between traditional media and digital media is blurred, but it can also be quite noticeable. Maria recommends that illustrators try to rid their work of a digital mark. “Make it look like you,” she says. “Don’t lose your line.”


Lori Richmond is the Brooklyn-based illustrator of A HOP IS UP (by Kristy Dempsey, Bloomsbury, 2016.) She has more than 15 years experience as a graphic designer, and is an editorial contributor to pregnancy and parenting website, The Bump. You can check out her web site:

Evolution Of A Cover

Originally Published: July 2011

by Bridget Casey

On May 10th, attendees of the SCBWI Metro New York Tuesday Professional Series were fortunate to hear Chad Beckerman, Creative Director of Abrams Books for Young Readers, offer his presentation, “The Evolution of a Book Cover.” Using images of book covers at different stages and vivid accounts of how these cover designs developed, Beckerman helped illuminate a process that is often mysterious to authors and illustrators alike.

Beckerman studied Illustration at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). “What I really learned was how to solve problems, and present narratives visually.” Before working at Abrams, he worked at Scholastic and Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

To highlight some of the challenges encountered while designing covers, Beckerman shared a few Abrams covers with the audience. Each book varied in style and content and required a unique creative solution. (more…)