How to Make Money from Writing and Illustrating for Children

Discover Story Centre Stratford London
On Thursday 13th March I went to a Masterclass in "How to make money from writing and illustrating for children" at the Discover Story Centre in Stratford, London.

The Masterclasses are run every year as part of their Big Write event and can be a really useful way to learn about publishing. I joined a room full of hopeful writers and illustrators downstairs for this final masterclass of the year.

There was a tremendous panel in place including SCBWI's very own Bridget Strevens Marzo, lovely agent Penny Holroyde from the Caroline Sheldon Agency and publishing powerhouse Kate Wilson from Nosy Crow. The panel was  chaired by Guardian Children's Book critic Julia Eccleshare.

The evening began with Bridget talking us through her own long and varied career as a writer and illustrator of children's books. She told us how important it was to be open to all opportunities from picture books to novelty/board books, concept books, covers, magazines, apps, ebooks and games. Being precious about what you will do will not aid you if you want a long career. When things were tough she taught workshops and went on school visits and still struggled at times to earn a living. I'm pleased to say that Bridget has a new book coming out in 2015 called Tiz and Otts Big Draw.

Being open to all opportunities is very important if you want a long career.

Next to talk was Penny Holroyde who's been in publishing for 19 years starting in foreign rights at Walker Books before moving to US publishers Candlewick. As an agent she now receives thirty to fifty submissions a day and spends most of her time managing clients which includes; looking at how to get the best financial deal for their authors, helping to shape ideas, discussing career development and on occasion a little bit of agony aunt advice!

Bridget Strevens Marzo, Penny Holroyde and Kate Wilson

In submissions for picture books Penny likes to see a minimum of three texts and suggests that  illustrators make sure they have pictures of children in their portfolios. She also said that she's generally looking for some sort of qualification for illustrators.
For children's book submissions Penny wants to know who the book will appeal to along with a short blurb and plot summary that gives us an idea of the world and the characters and what triggers the action.

Make sure you know who your book will appeal to.

Kate was up next and she runs Independent Publisher Nosy Crow which publishes books for children up to 14 years old (or 12 for boys). They began in 2011 and have a staff of around 15. In comparison newly merged Penguin Random House has 1500 employees! She presented a wonderful powerpoint presentation of exactly what a publisher does and why you might want one.

  •  Money - they pay this to authors as an advance
  •  Printing
  •  Distribution
  •  Storage
  •  Access - to consumers, especially the large corporations like supermarkets and Amazon. Nosy Crow only take on books with world rights 
  • Credibility
  •  Expertise - from creative inspiration to shaping and packaging the book so it fulfils it's true potential.
  •  Support
  • Trust - without this on both sides the partnership won't work.
     Finishing off the evening was Julia Eccleshare who as a critic for the Guardian gets sent 8 to 10 000 books each year. She is looking for a story that is told differently, has a fresh voice and great characters. She reiterated how important it is to grab readers early on if you want them to keep reading and reminded us all that publishing is full of luck.
    Bridget Marzo, Penny Holroyde, Kate Wilson, Julia Eccleshare

    This was a very interesting event and all the speakers were helpful in giving us a picture of what life is like for writers and illustrators and how difficult it can be for everyone involved to make money! The tone was definitely hopeful and encouraging however as long as we keep in mind the hard work needed, the importance of flexibility and that ever elusive luck plays a part in everything.
    Thanks to everyone involved, including the Discover Centre for hosting the event. It's a wonderful place to stimulate children's imagination. Do pop along with your little ones for their Secret Agent event if you get the chance!

Lorraine Gregory has been writing fantasy adventure books aimed at middle-grade boys for the last three years. She's been a chef and a restaurant manager and now works from home as an Antenatal Teacher. She belongs to the Words & Pictures Team and helps Tania to bring joy to our Saturday Celebrations' posts


  1. Thank you. I wanted to go but couldn't make it.

  2. Great write-up Lorraine! Just a small correction - in addition to the 2015 book for the Tate, I've got a book coming out this year too, a French book called Bridget's Book of English - talk about being flexible;-)

  3. Thank you! I am glad you found it useful!

  4. New bloggers can make money blogging right away by using Google Adsense. How To Make $100 A Day

  5. It is very important to collaborate with professional editors and proofreaders to correct a text if it’s needed. Only such cooperation can result. Our customer service is there for you 24/7, so don’t hesitate to call us anytime you need, have a glimpse at this site to find more!

  6. Nowadays, students don't give importance to grammar while writing. It's important that they must try to write well. paraphrase online


We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.