For those of you that don’t know, my second children’s book Delilah’s Birthday Surprise has just been released! It’s the first book in the series that follows Delilah and her pet hippo Louise on a series of misadventures.
Part of what I believe makes this book so special are the incredible illustrations done by my incredible collaborator Angelina Valieva. Angelina brought my ideas to life and I can’t thank her enough for her work and drawing my vision. That being said, you’ve probably heard the famous saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This phrase is especially true when talking about the importance of illustrations in books. Think about your favorite picture book when you were a child. Did the illustrations help you imagine what the characters looked like in your head? What about the scenery? The action? Illustrations are powerful ways of helping books come alive.
As children, many of you probably devoured many picture books. But what exactly is a picture book? The picture book is a highly developed, widely available art form for children and families. Since its appearance in the 18th century, it has evolved from a medium of saccharine entertainment and moralistic instruction to a complex interactive art with its own requirements and structure. The picture book is like a poem. The text must convey mood, emotion and setting with a few carefully considered words. It does not presume to teach; rather it tells a story and invites the reader to enter the world it creates. The illustrator is an interpreter, creating a sequence of pictures that build on one another to illuminate and expand the text. It is this sequential imagery working in concert with the written word that involves the child’s imagination and brings the story to life.
So with all that in mind, if you are a writer looking for a children’s book illustrator, here’s some helpful information on finding the right illustrator for your children’s book.
How many illustrations do you need?
For a picture book, will it be full page spreads or single page art? If it is a young adult book, maybe one illustration per chapter? What is the layout size of your book? Will you be needing spot illustrations too? You get the general idea, right?
Set a realistic budget for art.
Do not expect a professional illustrator to do your book for free, for their portfolio or for a split of future royalties. If you are approaching an experienced, professional, illustrator with a query you should do so respectfully and be prepared to pay them for their time, effort, talent and experience. To give you an idea of current industry rates for children's picture books (based on a 32pg book) estimates range from $3,000 – $12,000, plus royalties. To break it down another way, if you estimate that an illustrator is creating 20 original illustrations for your book and you are paying them $3,000 for art that is $150 per illustration. Now consider how much time goes into each illustration, starting with thumbnail sketches, revisions, pencil outlines and final color. Oh and don't forget the cost of supplies, along with the artist's time.
A contract is important. Always request a contract; it protects and clarifies both the author’s and artist’s obligations to the project.
Main Character Sketch
Ask if the artist would be willing to sketch a main character. See if they are a match – Many artists that are interested in your project will be willing to do this for you – for free or for a small fee.
What style of Illustration do you want?
Each artist has their own style and it is important to find an illustrator capable of creating the type of artwork that you would like to see. Make sure that you look at your prospective artist portfolio and body of work to determine if you will be a good match.
How does your Illustrator work and what are their terms?
There are a wide variety of options when choosing how to work. Will the Illustrator provide all of the editable master files (with digital) and original artwork (with traditional)? Will the artist give you all the rights to the work, also known as a work-for-hire or are there stipulations on royalties and rights that you should be away of before you begin.
Are the completed illustrations correctly formatted?
There are a number of factors that must align to get your book to press. The more inexperienced Illustrator may not create the images at the appropriate resolution or size. Unless they are working in vector, the images have to be 300dpi or better to print well. Remember you can always scale down but scaling up causes pixelation and blurriness.
Are you looking to have your book published traditionally with a large printing company?
If so, they usually have their own in-house art department and Illustrators that they use, you will want to check with their individual practices before you begin.
Take your time when searching for the perfect illustrator. Do not let passion for your book project cause you to make hasty and “costly” decisions. Unfortunately, this is something many of u learn the hard way. Do your research and eventually the right person will come along for your project.
So, there you have it! A few tips to help you navigate the process of finding a great illustrator for your book. Finding the right artist can be an expensive and daunting endeavor but, if you believe in your story and want the satisfaction of having a beautiful book, then you need to recognize that quality illustrations are an important ingredient in the editorial and marketing value of the book. If you like what you’ve read be sure to subscribe to my blog and don’t forget to pick up your copy of Delilah’s Birthday Surprise available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most major online retailers.
P.S. If you have ordered a copy that came defective please DM me or Facebook Message me for instrutions on retuns and exchanges.