Q: Do you have any advice for anyone interested in writing and/or illustrating children’s books?

Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I think SCBWI is the best organization for anyone interested in children’s publishing. If you’re serious about publishing your work, join – the fee is worth it.

I also have a Pinterest board with some wonderful resources – online classes, blog posts and books to help those who are interested in writing and/or illustrating picture books.

 

Q: Will you illustrate my children’s book?

I would love to, but you probably don’t want me to. If you are planning on sending your manuscript out to major publishers, they don’t want you to have an illustrator – that’s part of their expertise, matching up manuscripts with illustrators. So, if you are planning on getting published the traditional route, don’t worry about finding an illustrator. Write the best story you can, and the rest will be taken care of by professionals in the industry that do this every day.

 

Q: But what if I want to self-publish my children’s book?

If you’re self-publishing, I may consider illustrating your book if:

• You have been a member of the SCBWI for at least 2 years. Why? Because they can teach you so much about the children’s book world that would really boost your chances of being successful. This business is really hard to break into and it involves a lot of hard work and I want any project that I’m involved in to have the best chance of being successful.

• You are looking to purchase BOOK RIGHTS ONLY. I don’t give all rights to my artwork to authors who self-publish. Why? See question 8 and read the posts.

• You can answer ALL of the following questions. If your answer to most of the questions is “I don’t know,” then you’re not really ready to work with an illustrator. I need to know the answers to all of these questions before I can even consider giving a quote:

1. What age range is your book written for?

2. How many pages do you plan on the book having? (Please include copyright and title pages in that number.)

3. Do you have a budget in mind for the illustrations?

4. Do you have a deadline in mind? Is this a hard deadline (and if so, what is driving it), or is it flexible?

5. Do you have a publisher lined up?

6. How do you plan on publishing and marketing the book?

7. What outlets will you be using to sell the book?

8. Have you read these blog posts? And the resource included in the second post? Authors Who Plan to Self Publish – You Don’t Need All Illustration Rights! and  Great Resource About Commissioning Illustrations

9. Do you have the page breaks worked out with where you would like the illustrations? If so, are you flexible to any changes?

10. Do you want me to just create the illustrations, or do the design and layout of the book, too? (I prefer to do both if you don’t already have someone else lined up to design the book.)

11. What (if any) books have you gotten published already?

12. Have you ever worked with an illustrator before?

13. Is there any particular piece(s) of art on my website that you like the style of for your book?

14. Are you a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)? For how long?

15. I would like to see the manuscript for you book. I’d be happy to sign a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) if you would prefer.

 

Q: I have some ideas and sketches for my look. Will you work with these?

I see this process as a collaborative process. I will gladly look at your inspirations and ideas during the research stage. During the creative stage, I ask you to let me work my magic and do my own thing. Clients often report my illustrations capture things about their stories that they never could have imagined!

 

Q: I have some samples showing how I want the illustrations in my book to look. Will you follow these?

This depends. Hopefully, you’ve looked at my portfolio, love and connect with my work, and that’s why you want to hire me. If this is this case, I am open to looking at anything you have that resonates with you, and will consider it.

On the other hand, if you want something illustrated exactly like another artist’s work, then the answer is no.

 

Q: How long will the whole process take?

Illustrating a typical 32-page picture book takes me approximately 6 months. And that’s if everything goes smoothly.

Illustration of Hippo with alligator purse by children's illustrator Lynn Alpert