Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Illustrator Intensive with Jim Hoover

Date(s) - 05/13/2017
8:30 am - 12:00 pm

University of San Diego, Hahn School of Nursing, Room 106
5998 Alcalá Park, West Campus - San Diego, CA 92110

Illustrator Intensive with Art Director, Jim Hoover (Viking Children’s Books) 

During this half-day Illustrator Intensive, Art Director Jim Hoover will provide a behind the scenes look at illustrating books for children. He will review and comment on double-page spreads and character sketches provided by those participating in the optional illustrator mentorship, giving all participants a deeper understanding of the dance between illustration and text. You will also learn through the study of character sketches what’s needed to keep a character consistent and what’s important for creating characters that jump off the page and capture a reader’s imagination. Through the process participants will get a better sense of what works from an art director’s perspective, what doesn’t, and why. The Intensive will also include an open-dialogue with Hoover – a chance to discuss common mistakes and how to fix them, ask questions, and learn more about illustrating children’s books from an art director’s perspective.


Jim Hoover is Art Director at Viking Children’s Books and manages an array of projects, from early picture books, non-fiction, to young adult packaging. He is a published illustrator and managed several Dreamworks publishing tie-ins, as well as covers for teen fiction while a designer with Puffin Books. He’s taken a leadership role as the company has become more digital while maintaining a high standard for the printed book. 


Illustrator Mentorships (Optional)

The mentorship will provide a limited number of illustrators or author/illustrators participating in the Intensive with the opportunity to work directly with Art Director Jim Hoover. Mentees will select a story (one of their own or one submitted by picture book authors attending the Intensive) and create two double-page sketches based on the story; AND character sketches of the characters featured in the double-page spreads. Art Director Jim Hoover will review and comment on the two double-page spreads and character sketches. Based on the feedback received mentees will create final art for one double-page spread and revised character sketches for one character. The final double page spread and character sketches will be discussed as part of the full Illustrator Intensive. Please see the specific tasks and timeline listed below. Note: the  Regis deadline is Nov. 18, but don’t wait until the last minute, mentorships sold out early last year.

Timeline for Illustrator Mentorship

Nov.18     Registration for the Mentorship closes

Nov. 21    Receive anonymous picture book pitches to select from if not using own manuscript

Dec.         Receive manuscript for pitch selected

Mar. 3      Submit two double-page spreads (with text) plus up to one double-page spread with character sketches of characters featured in spreads

Apr. 1      Receive feedback on submission from Jim Hoover

May 10      Revise and submit revised character sketches and up to two spreads with finished art

May 13    Bring final art and character sketches to Illustrator Intensive and receive feedback from Jim Hoover


Opportunity for Picture Book Authors

Interested in letting an illustrator work with your unpublished manuscript? We want to allow illustrators participating in the mentorship an opportunity to illustrate text that has not been previously illustrated. Picture book authors can submit an up to three sentence pitch of ONE polished picture book manuscript for consideration by those illustrator mentees who need an unpublished manuscript to work with. The deadline for pitches is Nov. 12. Please see the timeline for authors below.  Note: the number of manuscripts selected will be limited. You must be able to attend the Illustrator Intensive if your manuscript is selected. (More info on writing a pitch is included below.)

Timeline for Picture Book authors – Note – must be able to attend Illustrator Intensive if your manuscipt is chosen

Nov. 12    Pitch submissions due. Submit the title and up to a three sentence pitch for ONE polished picture book manuscript. Email pitch in body of email to Subject line should read PB Pitch and your name. 

Dec.         Submit manuscript (if your pitch is selected by one of the Illustrator Mentees)

Jan.         Notified if manuscript selected

May 13    Intensive – See the world your words inspired and hear comments on the interaction between text and illustrations. Meet the Illustrator.


Optional Portfolio/Dummy Reviews will be available on SUNDAY May 14. Note this is THE DAY AFTER  the Intensive. 

On Sunday, the day following the Intensive, a limited number of individual portfolio/dummy reviews will be available with Art Director Jim Hoover for those who attended the Intensive. The in-person review will last 15 minutes. You should bring your portfolio and/or a dummy, paper and a writing utensil or electronic device to take notes. Remember you will only have 15 minutes, so you will likely have to choose to discuss either your portfolio or your dummy.


Writing a Pitch

What is a Pitch? A pitch, also known as a logline or an elevator pitch, is a short version of your story, usually one to three sentences. It’s essentially a sales pitch designed to peak interest in about the time it takes to travel in an elevator. The best repose is “tell me more,” or in our industry, “send me your manuscript.” A pitch line should cover three things: Character, Plot, Emotional Journey. It can tell the ending or not, but it should show what is unique and engaging about your story. 


Here are a few examples:

After overindulging on chili night, Little Penguin can't get rid of his hiccups, so he turns to the reader for help scaring them away, only to get a major surprise from a friend.

Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups

A princess asks for her own kingdom for her 13th birthday, only to find out that there's much more to being a queen than wearing ball gowns and throwing parties.

Princess Juniper

To avert civil war, three orphans complete in a treacherous plan to impersonate the lost prince. But that’s only the beginning of the lies. The biggest one could be fatal.

—   The Orphan Prince


Remember for the Illustrator Intensive, illustrators will make their selections on what they think they can bring to your story visually, so the more descriptive words you use, the more it may appeal to them.