Illustrations can make or break a children’s book, even one that has an excellent story. If you are working with a traditional publisher they will choose the illustrator. An indie author who wants to self-publish a children’s book, however, has to find and hire the illustrator for her book. Here are four tips to help you find the right person to illustrate your book.
Know what you are looking for. It’s best to look for an illustrator when your story is completed. Imagine the illustrations you would like to have. Look at other children’s books and find some that have a style you want for your book. Storyboard your book page by page with text and either a description of the illustration you want to accompany it or even a rough sketch of what you envision. Doing this will let you know exactly how many illustrations you will need to commission and the type of illustrations they will be: single page or spreads (which extend over two pages). Then consider your budget. What are you willing to pay?
Do a thorough search. There are many internet directories of children’s book illustrators. They contain illustrator’s’ portfolios so that you can see their work to find an artist that fits the style you envision. Generally, these directories also provide links to the illustrator’s website and contract information. Sometimes you can also find general information about their pricing, although this is more often something you will need to inquire about.
Here are some directories of illustrators you will want to visit. The first group contains experienced, top level artists who have thick portfolios.
- The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
- The Directory of Illustration
- Storybook Illustrators Children’s Illustrators Directory
- Book Crossroads Directory of Children’s Illustrators
This second group contains some sites where you can find illustrators who a just starting out and may prove less expensive to employ.
Develop a list of five or six illustrators who you think might be suitable.Contact the illustrators. on your list. You will want to inquire about:
- The artist’s interest in your project and availability to do it.
- The estimated price for the project.
- Who will control the rights to the illustrations. We strongly recommend buying them outright.
- The potential timeline for delivering the illustrations
- The process you will go through from beginning to end. Your input and approval, revisions, etc. of both initial sketches and final illustrations.
Some or all of these things may be negotiable. When you have finished assessing the illustrators, make your choice.
Make sure you have a written contract. Most experienced illustrators have a contract they use. Ask them about it. If there are things that you would like to change discuss it with the illustrator. A written agreement which shows exactly what the illustrator is to deliver, when it is to be delivered, how you will handle revisions, who will own the rights to the illustrations, and what the schedule for payment is will help make sure that the process works smoothly for both you and the artist.