Do you need a children's book illustrator? I am a professional children's book illustrator, this is what I do for a living. If you have questions, look over these FAQs. It might save you and me a lot of time if you decide to contact me.
Q: If I publish through a traditional publisher (not a vanity press or self-subsidized), do I need to hire an illustrator?
A: No, your traditional publisher will provide an illustrator for your book. They will pick out an illustrator to match the way they want your story to look. The publisher also pays the illustrator. You will probably not have any control in their choice of illustrator or the style of illustration. Traditional publishers pay you for publishing your story, you pay them nothing. You may receive an advance as the author. The illustrator they choose will receive an advance from the publisher and 1/2 of the approx. 10% in royalties on each book sold.
Q: If I self-publish (or use a vanity press or self-subsidized press) my children's book will I need to hire an illustrator?
A: Yes, if you self-publish or use an independent printer you usually will need to find and pay for an illustrator yourself. Sometimes, depending on the self-publisher/independent printer/vanity publisher you use, they may provide "staff" illustrators for an extra fee (or package). Check out their styles and fees carefully, before making a choice. Make sure they speak or write in your preferred language. If you want to give input as to style or content, be very careful.
Q: I hear stories about predatory vanity publishers and subsidized publishers. How can I be sure I am not being scammed?
A: Many new authors are taken in and taken advantage of by unscrupulous predatory publishers. They claim your manuscript is perfect for publication, but take every manuscript that comes to them. They don't care about selling your books, no matter what they tell you. They only make their money from selling you their over priced services. There is a site called Predators & Editors (pred-ed.com) that lists these questionable publishers, editors and agents. (This is not a pretty or well designed website, but they do give a lot great information.The predatory publishers hate them for telling the truth.
Q: Can you help me make the right decisions about self-publishing
A: My experience with other self-publishing authors and my self-publishing experience has given me the resources to guide new authors in the right direction.I can not select a self-publisher/printer for you, but I will be there to help you through the confusing process. I can act as a liaison between you and your printer, to make sure your final book looks as good as it can when it rolls off the presses. I'm always here to answer any questions you may have during the process.
Q: How much do you charge for illustrations?
A: Good question, but I won't be able to tell you anything until I know exactly what I will be illustrating. What size, picture book or young reader book, how complicated the illustrations are, how many pages, spreads or single pages, how many characters, historical backgrounds, costumes, color or black and white and many more questions will need to be answered?
Asking how much illustrations for a book cost to illustrate is like asking a builder how much a house cost without stating how many bedrooms, swimming pools or media rooms the house will have.
I will prepare a bid for your approval and a simple contract when I have all the information I need. Payment is made in thirds, One third to start, one third when pencil drawings are approved and the last third when the book is completely illustrated, approved by you and ready to turn over to the printer.
Q: How long does illustrating a children's book take?
A: Another good question, see the answer above. Probably longer than you think, but a lot depends on the answers to the questions above. A book illustrator does more than just make pretty illustrations. We must figure out where each page will break, which pages will be spreads, which will be single illustrations. Flow of the story and surprises are important. I usually make up a storyboard and a rough dummy to show you what your book will look like before I even get started illustrating.
I then work on developing each character so it fits with your concept of the book. Next step are the pencil roughs of each page to be approved by you, then we discuss colors for the pages. Now I can finally start on the actual illustrations for your approval. And last of all, when all the illustrations are finalized, I can put all the illustrated pages together with your text and prepare printer-ready files. I will work directly with your printer to answer all those last minute questions and make sure the job goes smoothly.
A lot depends on how fast you can review and approve dummies, rough sketches and color roughs. I have had clients who want their illustrations quickly, then take weeks or months to approve each step of the process. A rough estimate for illustrating a 32 page book is 5 months to 8 months. I can work faster than this, but working with self-publishing authors for approvals at each step takes a lot of time.
Q: Do we need a contract to work together?
A: Contracts are important when you are working on a project and money and legal rights are involved. The publishing business is very strict about copyright. A professional illustrator makes his/her living by selling publishing rights to the artwork they create for you. All details should be written down in a contract so you know what rights you are paying for and the professional illustrator knows they will have enough income for the time it takes to create your illustrations.
Payment in one third increments is common practice. A kill fee may be included that compensates the illustrator for time spent working on illustrations and not paid for since the last installment. Detailed publishing rights for the illustrations are signed over when the project is completed and the final payment is received. A schedule should be established for completion of work and turn around time for client approval of roughs and illustrations should be noted. An illustrator cannot be expected to finished illustrations on time when the author holds up making decisions and approval for days, weeks or even months.
Q: Will I also need a book designer and art director?
A: Someone will have to design your book and "package" all the art in a usable form for the printer. I can handle this process for you, I have over 30 years experience in graphic design and art direction. I am able to create custom lettering for your cover and layout your inside pages so they flow with the illustrations. If you prefer to hire another designer, I will be happy to work with them to give you the best book possible.
Q: What about a non-disclosure agreement?
A: I am very comfortable signing non-disclosure agreements prior to seeing your manuscript. This protects the author's ownership of her story and maintains confidentiality. I can provide these forms, which may be amended to include any additional concerns you may have.
Q: How do we communicate?
A: I’m very good at anticipating my clients needs and work closely with them to create the best and most targeted finished product. I live and work in St. Louis Missouri. I usually communicate by e-mail sending files for approval as attachments. Or using DropBox for large files. We can talk by phone and can also have face to face meeting using Skype or other similar service. I have worked with authors living all over the US.
Q: Do I have to tell you what's should be on each page and where the illustrations should go?
A:Iread your manuscript (yes, I really do) and break text in the manuscript down into manageable pages that make sense for flow of story, suspense and illustrations. The illustrator is usually the person who decides what illustrations will go on each page. Most picture books are 32 pages, this includes the title page and copyright page. I will make a dummy at a small size to show how the illustrations and the text will flow through the book.
Q: Will I have to pay extra for promotional images to use on my website and Amazon?
A: When I illustrate and design your entire book including the cover and custom text on the cover, I prepare appropriately sized and formated images for your marketing needs.
I live and work in St. Louis Missouri, but I have successfully worked with clients located all over the U.S. using high-speed Internet. It is just as easy to work together using virtual technology as it is working in the same city.
I love to work with children’s book authors to expand and illustration their ideas and words into delightful picture books. I have also worked with companies making children's games and products.