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    « Guide for Memoirists: David Brooks' Life Lessons | Main | How Do I Find an Illustrator for My Children’s Book? »

    How Do I Find an Illustrator for My Self Published Children’s Book?

    In our previous post we explored some advice to authors of children’s books seeking an illustrator. (If you missed it, take a look.)In today’s post we’ll explore the question of how to find an illustrator if you plan to self publish your children’s book.

    Begin by deciding how many illustrations and what size you want. Then decide on you budget for the project. Armed with this knowledge you can begin searching for your illustrator.

    One way to start is by reviewing the portfolios of professional illustrators. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators offers online portfolios of hundreds of illustrators with a wide variety of styles. (It is a membership site with a $60 fee.) There are also some good free sites including Children’ and The Directory of Illustration.

    Illustrator Tammy Yee suggests that you “…be sure to familiarize yourself with the artist's portfolio and résumé. Can the artist finish and deliver a product to meet your deadline? Is the artistic style suitable for a children's book? Don't dictate to an artist that you want such and such a style if it's clearly not in his portfolio. You're better off finding another illustrator.”

    If you are looking for a lower cost illustrator there are some other options to consider.

    • Author Carl Hose advises, “Check with friends and family first. If you know someone who has the ability to illustrate, talk to him or her about working on your book with you. In many cases you can work out a partnership deal that includes a shared percentage of book royalties instead of an upfront payment. If you know someone you can work with professionally, this can be an ideal situation.”
    • Posting your project at a local college or art school can help you find someone who is trying to break into the business and might be willing to work with you for a relatively low cost to do so.
    • Posting on Craigslist can bring submissions from a number of potential illustrators.

    Once you have found an illustrator you feel is right for your project, Yee advises, “…protect yourself and the artist by writing a clear and reasonable contract that spells out deadlines, ownership of artwork, publication rights and terms of payment.” Rose explains, “Negotiate with the illustrator for the terms you would like. You have the option of buying the copyright to the illustrator's work outright, if the illustrator is agreeable to the terms. This means you will pay a one-time flat fee and own all rights to the illustrations. If you'd rather, you can offer a partnership in the book, with a 50/50 split of royalties between the illustrator and you. If you can't come to an agreement, you can look for another illustrator.”

    I might add, though, that illustrators may be less excited about splitting royalties because the payoff may appear more speculative and further off in the distance.

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    Reader Comments (6)

    Totally agree that finding an illustrator is DIFFICULT. Picture book illustration is a HIGHLY competitive field. Lots and lots of artists try to break into it, and that means lots and lots of those artists are, frankly, not very good. Now, if you include art in a picture book submission, the publisher will judge it according to the standards of the industry. That means, if you want ANY chance of being published, the art has to be of professional quality, good enough to hold its own on a bookshelf next to tons of other big books being published.

    May 29, 2012 at 11:27PM | Unregistered CommenterKindle Self Publishing

    That's one of the reasons that an author submitting to a traditional publisher is often better off submitting the story without illustrations and allowing the publisher to assign an illustrator if they want to buy the story. Self publishers need to look at a lot of artists' portfolios to get the right look for their book.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:31PM | Registered CommenterNan Barnes

    Doing them yourself is always the cheapest way. ...That is, if you can illustrate. If you can't, try searching Craigslist for some artists in need of work. The downfall of that is you wont be real sure how professional they'll be. Will they be patient with your revisions? Will you ultimately get the look you're going for or will you have to settle? One thing I always tell people when it comes to hiring a professional creative is you get what you pay for. Your best bet for your book to be professional in quality is to hire a professional. Some professional artists that do great work with outstanding professional quality for a relative cheaper price is Paper Crown Visual Studios. They work out of a their gallery which is called Paper Crown Gallery ( ). You can find more info about the services they offer in illustration and animation here

    Feb 28, 2013 at 2:09PM | Unregistered Commenterdieken22

    Thanks for sharing. You made a good point that it's best when looking for an artist or illustrator if you can see their portfolio. We'll check out your recommendation.

    Feb 28, 2013 at 9:23PM | Registered CommenterNan Barnes

    If you plan to submit your children's story to a well-established publisher, then you should focus on your story and not the artwork. Trim your word count down so that it is as short as possible. You want a concise and exiting story that does't meander all over the place.
    You should also use "action words" when appropriate because this adds fun and excitement to the story. An example would be "the lion let out a mighty roar." A shorter way to say this with a couple action words would be "the lion yeowwllled and gerrrrrowled!" The first example is cut and dry while the second is lively, memorable and fun for kids to hear and repeat. Remember, story is king. If your story is weak then no artist can save you.
    Rich Olson/ children's book artist

    Jul 16, 2014 at 1:10AM | Unregistered CommenterRich Olson

    Thanks Rich! Good advice.

    Jul 16, 2014 at 2:29PM | Registered CommenterNan Barnes

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