(All illustrations copyright Beverley Johnston)
The 500 word rule doesn't apply for this, so I am showing you the covering letter, synopsis, and half* the text, along with some sample pictures. Please respect Beverley's copyright, particularly for the pictures: you may not reproduce them without her permission and she would be sensible not to give it except in certain circumstances!
(* Beverley sent me the whole text but I have chosen to reproduce only half - it's enough for you to judge, especially along with the synopsis.)
"The sample cover letter below is taken from the latest one penned for an agent who deals with both fiction and non-fiction. When sending to fiction only agents I obviously omit the proposals for non-fiction books. Looking back at it I'm wondering if it appears too pushy! But then I keep reading about 'self-promotion' so I'm keen to present myself in a positive light as an author/illustrator willing to go out and about delivering workshops and talks to both adults and children."So, dear readers, what do you think?
May I take this opportunity of introducing my work to you in the hope you will consider representing me as an author/illustrator. I would also like to present some additional information about myself and some ideas I have for developing a range of non-fiction children's art and craft books/sets, which I hope will convey to you my commitment to developing a career as an author/illustrator of both non-fiction and fiction books, and hence why I think you are ideally suited to represent me as my agent.
As a founder member of the UK Coloured Pencil Society I have already had an art technique book published, The Complete Guide to Coloured Pencil Techniques (David and Charles 2003, which has since been translated into Taiwanese), and I have now started to write and illustrate children's picture books.
Due to the short word count I have attached a synopsis and complete manuscript for one of my picture books, Eddy's New Suit, plus 8 JPEGS depicting finished illustrations and photos taken from the fully working dummy book which is available to view.
Eddy’s New Suit (207 words) is a lift-the-flap novelty book for the 3+ year old age group. The inspiration for this book comes from the special relationship we form as a child with a favourite teddy or soft toy. The format for the book was inspired by the wonderful Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. I believe the book would appeal to both parents and grandparents (especially Nannies who knit) and because of the resurgence in the ‘make do and mend' philosophy, and a new generation of knitters, the book is also very current in its subject matter.
In addition to writing The Complete Guide to Coloured Pencil Techniques, I have also written articles for The Artist, The Leisure Painter, and The Artist and Illustrator magazines. I've demonstrated at the Artist and Illustrator Show (Olympia and the Business Design Centre, Islington) and taught coloured pencil workshops at Missendon Abbey Adult Education Centre, Aylesbury. More recently (since having my children) I have delivered a coloured pencil workshop to key stage 3 and 4 children at my local school. I have also exhibited with the Society of Wildlife Artists at the Mall Galleries, London.
Two aims of the UK Coloured Pencil Society include promoting the use of coloured pencils as a fine art medium, plus encouraging children to develop their artistic skills through the use of coloured pencils. Coloured pencil manufacturers such as Derwent, Faber Castell and Caran D'ache etc are always open to marketing suggestions and often willing to work with artists to produce a range of educational materials, for both adults and children.
Although in the ideas stage of development I am keen to produce a range of technique books for children. Including flowers, cars, animals (pets and wildlife), and the human form, my technique can be adapted to produce fine art or stylised pictures. Projects would be kept small to suit a child's ability and by using easy to follow step-by-step stages children would be taught how to use coloured pencils and improve their drawing skills. Examples could then be used to develop a range of workshops for schools (and to support the national curriculum would combine writing and drawing for both fiction and non-fiction projects).
I would also love to see Eddy's New Suit be developed as an activity knitting set. I appreciate this may sound adventurous (in light of the fact it's yet to be published!) but my research has shown there is an increase in the number of people, including children, taking up knitting through the choice of books and craft kits available on the market. How many of them could resist knitting such a lovely warm jumper for such a well loved bear?!
EDDY’S NEW SUIT
(Available as a fully working dummy book)
A 16 page lift the flap novelty book aimed at 3+ year olds (could also be developed as a touch/feel novelty book).
Eddy is a favourite teddy who has been cuddled so often his fur has become patchy and worn, so his owner decides to make him a
The reader lifts the flaps to discover what suit Eddy is wearing. The bubble wrap suit is, ‘too spongy and squishy’; the holly leaves suit is ‘too prickly and spiky’, and the silver foil suit ‘too shiny and crinkly’.
None are right until the last flap, when he receives a very special woollen suit from Nanny. Which is just perfect!
Text (first 8 pages - half the full book)
Eddy the Teddy’s my favourite bear,
but I’ve cuddled him so often his fur’s all patchy and worn,
so I’m going to make him a brand new suit!
I make him a suit out of . . . cardboard and tape.
But it’s too stiff and sticky,
so I take it off.
I make him a suit out of . . . grass and string.
But it’s too scratchy and itchy,
so I take it off.
I make him a suit out of . . . feathers.
But it’s too fluffy and tickly,
so I take it off.
(final four spreads supplied, not shown)
Comments, please, expecially from any published pic book writers out there.