Anne Moore Armstrong + MentorMakers: The Role of A Bright Agent

Dave Mottram

Illustration by David Mottram

Bright US publishing agent Anne Moore Armstrong skyped in with Mentor Makers to chat about what it takes to become a children’s book illustrator and the undeniable benefits of having agent representation. With more than 20 years as a children’s book professional, Anne is chock full of knowledge to share.

Becca Stadtlander

Illustration by Becca Stadtlander

When Anne first came to Bright USA from Candlewick Press, she brought on author/illustrator David Litchfield. Anne had been following David on Twitter for years and loved his work, but saw that he needed to be developed to move into the picture book realm. “He was doing more sophisticated adult quirky work, which I loved, but it was really about pulling out the gold for picture books.” With Anne’s help, David’s first picture book The Bear and the Piano was acquired by Francis Lincoln, developed with the art director and editor, then went on to receive the esteemed UK Waterstone Prize in 2016.

David Litchfield 1

From David Litchfield’s The Bear and the Piano

Anne remarks, “sometimes you just see something and you just know – I can pull the gold out of that and it’s kind of hidden but it needs to come out. Those are challenges I love.”

The role of an agent, however, is much more than discovering talented illustrators. “You’re managing an artist’s time and creating a feasible schedule that won’t crash,” says Anne. “It really is about managing projects and expectations, and knowing your artist’s working style.”

An agent is also “a mentor, an advocate, a friend and a listener, but also a supervisor… someone who can deliver hard news as well as good news. In the end, you want [the artist] to succeed, you want the client to be happy, you want a great book. You want everyone to work well together.” And that’s where the strength of having an agent comes in: “the experience, the relationships, knowing the houses, knowing the imprints, knowing the aesthetics, and the sensibilities of editors and art directors. It’s about the relationships we have established already.”

“I’m here to advocate for you,” Anne says. “I’m here to solve this problem, to work with the client and work with you.”

If agent representation is so important, how do you actually get an agent to represent your work? Especially in an age saturated with online creative outlets, how do you get noticed?

Anne suggests you have “a good strong portfolio of at least 12 – 15 images, not just 2 or 3 that are strong.” She also stresses the importance of a “fresh, clear, and clean website that represents your work well.”

“I think clarity is really important to show what style or styles you employ. Too many styles makes it look like you’re not clear on what your style is. So if you do have a number of styles, I would pick one or two to show that are your strengths. And then the art director or agent can get to know you more and see the others.”
But the road to getting published can be long and tedious. “There’s a lot of investment of time, a lot of seeds planted, a lot of rejections, waiting — but I do think if you’re honing your skill, if you’re taking the time to develop your work, if you’re taking constructive criticism, if you’re growing…I really think that synergy and those open doors do come.”

In short, Bright Agents like Anne are advocates for artists. We’re well versed not only in children’s book art direction, but also in how to navigate the sometimes tricky road to publication. With Bright agents and our specialized contracts department by your side, you have a team of art superheroes behind you as champions of your career.  

While we’ve distilled some of Anne’s best nuggets of publishing wisdom into this blog post, you can still view the full webinar here.


Annephotoshopped

Anne will be at BEA and ALA this year! Schedule a meeting with her here to
review her stunning portfolio of Bright artwork.

You can also follow her on
Twitter: @childbookart