Q: I wrote a children’s book, now how do I get it illustrated?
The first question you should ask yourself is: are you planning to self publish your book, or submit it to a traditional publisher?
If you’re planning on submitting it to a traditional publishing house, publishers prefer to match up the author and illustrator themselves. In this case you would only submit your manuscript without any illustrations. The art director or editor takes over from there, working with an illustrator who will interpret the story in his or her own way through pictures.
For more information on getting your manuscript submission ready, head over to the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) where there are tons of great resources on getting your work published. If you’re not a member yet, I would highly recommend it if you’re at all serious about writing/ illustrating for kids! Also the book Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market is THE guide to the industry with lists of publishers and current contact info. I get my copy every year when it comes out.
If you’re planning to self-publish your book, it can be a great way to get your book out onto the market more directly. But you do need to have the capitol to begin with to foot the costs of hiring an illustrator, editor, printing, and manage every aspect of the publishing yourself including marketing and selling the book. You almost have to see yourself as a “small press.” It might be the perfect fit for those who are more entrepreneurial and enjoy managing the whole process.
If you are planning on self-publishing your picture book, and have been an SCBWI member for at least 2 years I would be interested in illustrating it. Let’s talk!
Q: What can I expect to pay for illustrations?
My estimate for illustrating a picture book takes into account the amount of time it takes to work on a project that big as well as complexity of illustrations. I spend months collecting inspiration for characters, settings and sketching ideas. I go through tons of drawings to arrive at a finished composition, and thats all before I even begin painting. From start to finish it can take up to a year to illustrate a picture book, depending on the number of pages and the complexity. It's no small project to undertake! Be prepared for your project to start at at least 4-figures. Contact me for an individual estimate.
Q: I’ve submitted my manuscript, but haven’t heard back yet. Should I self-publish instead?
Dont give up too soon! Also don’t be discouraged by what you may read online, but be sure to have realistic expectations. Editors get hundreds of inquiries a day (or more!) and they almost always get read! But they are incredibly busy and sometimes don’t get through their pile of submissions for months! A lot of editors will reply only if interested, but many will send a quick email saying “no thanks” I sent a picture book out to 5 editors and got a “no thank you” response from 3 of them within a month, so I guess thats good odds.
Writing and illustrating picture books is not the most lucrative industry. I don’t think any of us are here for the money, but we do it because we can’t NOT do it! You have to have the passion of believing in what you have to offer, and be willing to wait it out patiently for many years. Believing in it enough to not care how many times it gets rejected. I believe the most successful writers and illustrators are the ones who just about almost gave up, but hung on til the end. Beatrix Potter self published, Madeleine L’Engle who wrote A Wrinkle in Time got 28 rejections until someone believed in it. And I’m sure you know the story of JK Rowling who got rejection after rejection while she was a struggling single mother, before Harry Potter was finally published! You have to love it enough to be willing to go through that.
Keep on writing, and keep improving your craft. You will only get better with practice, and before you know it you will find the right person who is interested in your work!
best of luck, and feel free to contact me if you have any other questions!