If you are a first time children’s writer, with a picture book in the pipeline, here are a few things you should keep in mind as you go through the pre- publishing process. If your manuscript has been signed up by a traditional publisher, you will probably not be an active participant in the illustration process as most publishers have their own illustrators to do the job for them. However, if you plan to self-publish, you will need an illustrator to match your style and expectations. While you shop around for the right match, here are some points you should pay heed to.
Professional Children’s Book Illustrator
Find a professional illustrator rather than settling on a publishing service. There is a difference between the two and it will show up in the final product. While publishing services often offer generic digital illustrations, an illustrator spends time in understanding your concept and using creativity to breathe life and emotion into the visuals.
If you are working with an established professional, expect to compensate adequately for the services. Except for a novice, no illustrator would work for future royalties or in the hope of gaining exposure and experience. Be professional in working out a financial arrangement. Know the costs of illustration and raise a reasonable budget for it rather than haggling with the illustrator. Most professional illustrators expect a deposit and progress payments, with the final payment on delivery of the final artwork.
Working out a contract with an illustrator makes good sense; it will protect you and set clear expectations for both of you. The contract should have details of deadlines, payment, deliverables and copyright arrangement.
The illustrator is working to give visual life to your story and if you want her/ him to stay true to your vision, it is preferable to give the illustrator the final text to work with. That’s how the illustrator gets a sense of the story and will be able to depict the character and the settings accurately. If necessary, work with a story editor to get your content finalized before you give the script to the illustrator. This will probably save you time and money in the long run.
The process of illustrating a picture book is a collaborative process between the writer and the illustrator. So, listen to any feedback or suggestion the illustrator makes, even if is about the written content. A professional illustrator has knowledge about page design, book design, text placement and even narrative arc and pacing. In turn, make sure you give adequate feedback to the illustrator during the illustration process, before the final artwork is complete. There will be adequate opportunities to ask for changes during the illustration process, thereafter it is likely to cost you time and money and stress!!
A picture book relies heavily on the illustrations to bring the story to life and to move the narrative forward. So make sure you work with an illustrator who is in sync with your vision and able to deliver to your satisfaction. That’s the only way to give your project the best chance in a very competitive market.