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Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

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

Biff Barnes

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.