Children’s picture books occupy a unique place in literature. This is a literary form that is not just about the story or the words; it is literature interwoven with art. In a children’s picture book, the illustrations are as critical as the text and both have to work together to make a lasting impact on the young reader.
Publishing houses have professional illustrators of their own. Usually they use these artists to create illustrations for all their published work. Many writers find it uncomfortable to work with illustrators who may not be able to translate their words accurately into visuals but writers who insist on matching their story with illustrators of their choice may find that this counts against them. Sometimes a writer, who is also a trained illustrator, might be able to get the publishing house to consider using her own illustrations. But this can be tricky to negotiate since many publishing houses do not accept illustrations along with manuscript submission and bombarding them subsequently with samples of illustrations may not be a good idea. If a writer is really keen to showcase her illustration skills, then it is worth considering an alternate career as an illustrator for other books. Usually a writer who is determined to use an illustrator of her choice should consider other publishing options.
Self-Publication of children’s picture books is an alternative to using the traditional publishing houses. However it is important for the writers to be prepared for the difficulties they may encounter while using this option. Using a self-publishing company, although an expensive proposition, could make the entire process easier, especially for a first time writer. Self-publication could also mean taking on the responsibility for marketing the book. Effective use of social media and the internet can boost the book sales considerably but this needs time and a certain amount of media expertise to master. However, for writers-cum-illustrators, who are keen to showcase their talent, self-publication may be the only way out, at least for the first few books.
A children’s writer must consider all publishing options when it comes to bringing her book out onto the bookshelves. And getting the right illustrations – that blend in and enhance the story- should be one of the deciding factors. Because when it comes to illustrations in a children’s book, the writer must never have to make compromises.