Everything I have read or been told, and every guideline I have seen regarding submitting a picture book manuscript to a publisher has indicated that illustrations should not be included in the submission. This makes sense to me for the commonly stated reason that the publisher generally sources the illustrator themselves, but does this rule also apply to simple illustrations that are not intended to be published in the final work but to communicate an idea or concept?
I have seen it written that publishers/agents "know" how to read a manuscript and "see the story" without illustrations. But are they really that clairvoyant? I have a hard time believing that for the following two situations.
- A particular event in the storyline is simply not part of the text but must be communicated through the illustration. Taking the context of the surrounding text is not always sufficient. This seems to be a relatively common phenomenon in picture books.
- An illustration is required in order to understand the meaning of the text without making the text excessively verbose or expository. For example where a character interacts with an inanimate object in a way that must be seen to be understood.
In both scenarios, I could see widely divergent visions of the story appearing in the mind of various publishers/agents based on their own personal background or level of creativity. Or perhaps even no vision at all without some prompt outside of the text.
In these cases it seems that it is simply a roll of the dice that some sort of vulcan mind meld occurs between the author and the person reviewing the manuscript.
What should an author do in a submission when illustrations are an integral part of communicating the concepts of a story?