Bringing your picture book to life with beautiful illustrations is the next step for a self-published picture book. If you are publishing through a traditional press, their editorial team will pick and assign you an illustrator.
Our new book, Two Wins for Wiley, will be launched this fall. Typically, agented illustrators need a few months to complete the illustrations. Illustrators are busy and some may be busy for several months. In fact, our first choice of illustrator was not available until the fall. If we decided to wait our book would not be ready until after the new year.
Lucky for us we found another illustrator, Carissa, who was very interested in illustrating our book. Carissa was the perfect match for our book because she was familiar with and has received acupuncture as a patient. We could not have asked for a better match. She is bringing her knowledge and experience to her illustrations. Before I share how we found our illustrator, I want to share what you need to do to prepare before contacting an illustrator.
My process might be different than most, but I like to organize my text, think about the illustrations and the pacing of the story. For a picture book you will want to use a 32-page dummy. I want the reader to be engaged in the story and I find this process helpful. By adding the text to each page, I can visualize the illustrations which will help when I am speaking with my illustrator.
In a 32-page picture book, you do not have 32 pages for your story. You only have 24 pages. Eight are used for the book ends, copyright and title. And 24 pages translates to 12 spreads (an illustration that spans the two opened pages in a book). Tara Lazar has written an excellent article about Picture Book Dummies with samples.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Bringing your picture book to life requires good decision making skills. Here are several decisions you will need to make before you find an illustrator:
- What is your timeline? When should all illustrations be completed?
- What is your budget?
- What kind of illustrations do you want?
- What are the dimensions of your book? Illustrator will need to know the size of the page.
- How many pages? Not all picture books are 32 pages.
- How many single illustrations and spreads will you need?
- What is the final format of the illustrations?
- What ideas do you have for the cover page? Title page?
- Payment method and schedule
- Contract – before hiring an illustrator you should consult with a lawyer
Finding an Illustrator
We found our illustrator through an agency. Advocate Art Agency has a number of illustrator portfolios online that you ca browse. The website has a wealth of information about the illustrator, you can look through their portfolios and check their availability. Once we browsed their website and found a few illustrators we were interested in hiring, we contacted the agent about our request. The agent will ask you a series of questions about your project and then contact the illustrator with your request. I have used them twice now and I have been very happy.
You can find illustrators in a number of places, but here are a few that I have searched.
- Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
- Illustrator Agencies
- College campuses
Take you time, shop around and find the illustrator that is right for you. I will not discuss illustrator costs or illustrator contracts on this blog. That is for the experts to discuss.
I am so glad you’re here and so grateful that I can share my writing journey with you. I believe that you have a story to tell and the world is waiting to read your story.
I’m looking forward to helping you as a children’s book writer in any way that I can. Speaking of helping — please leave a comment below and let me know what questions you have about picture book writing. This will help me to tailor my posts to your needs.
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I am now booking author visits for the Fall, 2022. I am available for in person visits and virtual classroom visits. Please book early as availability will become limited as back to school begins.
Have a great week.