You’ve Written Your Fabulous Book For Children – But Where On Earth Do You Find Someone To Illustrate It That Won’t Cost You An Arm And A Leg?

Wow…sorry about the long-winded title of this piece….I’ll try and make up for it by keeping the post quite short.

The question is a tricky one for new writers trying to break into the children’s book market.

In the last 20 years or so I’ve met hundreds of wannabe authors who can’t wait to show me their fabulously written books for children….let’s use ‘Henry and the Magic Chicken‘ as an example (I’ve just made that up, obviously…but apologies to anyone currently working on their very own Henry/Magic Chicken book…there’s bound to be someone somewhere. Please feel free to get in touch).

In general, most of these authors are trying to save money, so what do they do? They illustrate the book themselves. Or their nephew/niece has a pop at it. Now I don’t want to be a party pooper but again, in general, the illustrations spoil the book. Not always the case, I admit, but as I say ‘in general’ it’s not a wise thing to do.

So, what should they do? Pay a professional illustrator to do it for them? Lay out an arm and a leg? Give away a percentage of their book’s profits? It rarely happens.

For those authors who can’t do their own illustrations the conversation tends to run like this….. “Steve, do you know any young, up and coming, wannabe illustrators who would love a chance to get into the profession? Would they like to work on my Chicken book for a small fee? If the book makes any money I’ll certainly see them right.”

Now, you may think my answer would be “Sure. No problem. I have a little black book with the names and contact details of hundreds of suitable young talented illustrators who’d jump at the chance to take a crack at your book. Now, let me see, who do I know who can draw great chickens?” Nope.

I can honestly say I know no one. Trust me, I’ve looked. No one. You might think every young, aspiring illustrator/artist would be interested, and would be up to the task, but I’ve not found them. Maybe they exist, but not on my radar. Oh sure, there are lots of young people who want to be illustrators but to be perfectly frank I’ve found very few who can actually draw. It pains me to say that, honestly. They tend to work on Photoshop, which is a fabulous tool (I use it almost every day), and there are some terrific images produced that way, but if you ask “Can you draw me a crazy chicken running down the street with its tail feathers on fire?” I suspect most would struggle.

So, what’s the answer? What am I getting at? Well, I have to hold my hand up here and say that I’m currently one of those ‘wannabe authors’ with a book without illustrations.

Actually, I now have three books I need illustrating, but they are all very much ‘spec’ books…..not ones I want to spend much money on….they are what they are, ‘written on spec’. They might come off, they might not. One might make up into an animation short…who knows….and it’s precisely at moments like this that you tend to think “I can’t afford to pay my usual illustrator his fee for just a ‘spec’ idea. If only I knew a young aspiring artist who might be good enough to do it for me!”

So what I’m suggesting is simple…if anyone reading this knows of any young (old, whatever the age, I care not) wannabe illustrators who would like to be considered for these kind of jobs please tell them to get in touch with yours truly and I will add them to my Little Black Book of Fabulous (and Inexpensive) Illustrators which is currently blank.

OMG. Six hundred and forty five words. I blethered on again. Sorry about that.



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About writegoodbooks

I help new writers become published authors through self-publishing. I also offer writers the chance to have their work converted into Kindle eBooks and publish them on the Amazon Kindle store.

4 responses to “You’ve Written Your Fabulous Book For Children – But Where On Earth Do You Find Someone To Illustrate It That Won’t Cost You An Arm And A Leg?”

  1. Molly B and Me says :

    A speaker at a writer’s group I attended many years ago said publishers prefer to find their own illustrators, that you diminish the value of your book if you try to find an illustrator yourself. Even at the time I thought that depended on the skill of the illustrator. In this digital age, I think all that has changed and publishers prefer a well-illustrated, well-written book. I appreciate your insights, and good luck with your books.

  2. writegoodbooks says :

    Thanks for the comment….you are quite right in what you suggest.

    The examples I mentioned in the post were based upon the kind of books I see often from first time authors who are looking to self publish, and in the hope that I can help them through Write Good Books. As I say, a lot of them have had a go at illustrating, with variable success, and in most cases they simply can’t afford to shell out for a pro illustrator.

    I have a colleague who is a great illustrator and even with the ‘good deal’ I get from him there are books of my own that suddenly burst into life that I wouldn’t want to pass onto him….these are the kind of books I refer to as ‘spec books’……which would be ideal for someone starting out in illustration to try their hand at…..and hopefully that would be a win/win situation for both of us.

  3. Christopher Lee Deards says :

    In the event that I self publish my fantasy novel I will want the cover done by an illustrator who knows how to draw, not one who knows how to just use photoshop. To that end I searched through the freelance illustrators website and found illustrators who fit my vision for how the cover should be drawn.
    I’ve talked to them, and these guys are professional illustrators–well worth the money in my opinion, and they are pricey, you’re right, but I think if you want a great cover or interior illustrations, you need to realize that you get what you pay for.
    I have to stop myself. Heh. I don’t want to write a post of my own within the comments section.

    • writegoodbooks says :

      Feel free to comment any time….no problem at all. Write whatever takes your fancy.
      What you say makes total sense too, but I work with a lot of wannabe writers who simply won’t go that far, so I have to try to come up with an alternative solution for them.

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