Your manuscript is nearly complete. All you need is the perfect illustration. But how do you go about finding and working with an illustrator? Here are some tips:
How to find an illustrator for your book
The easy answer: Let your publisher do it for you
If you’re new to the publishing industry, you may think that it is your job as the author to find an illustrator for your book. While this is possible, there’s a much more efficient route. Allow your publisher to do it for you. Working with a professional publisher has many perks and among them is their connection to established illustrators. They can ensure that you are paired with an artist who produces high-quality work and consistently meets deadlines.
In a recent post, children’s book illustrator Sarah McIntyre offers this advice:
Unless you’ve started out with a partner who’s integral to what you’re making, you don’t need to find your own illustrator; your target publisher knows lots of them. Editors and art directors don’t just take your book and print it; they’re active in creating it with you. Part of their job, and what they pride themselves in doing, is matching you up with the illustrator who’s perfect for your story.
Pro-tip: You may be surprised to find that having a pre-chosen illustrator can actually hamper your chances of being picked up by a publisher. (They are already taking a chance on you and may not also be willing to take a chance on an unfamiliar illustrator.)
Approach an illustrator through their agent
If you have fallen in love with the work of a certain illustrator and feel that your book is the perfect fit for them, you can contact them. However, we recommend that you do so through their agent. Established illustrators use their agents to screen incoming requests with consideration of the artist’s preferences and schedule.
Pro-tip: Contacting an established illustrator directly is a dead giveaway that you’re a rookie writer. Taking the time to approach the agent in a professional manner will take you much further.
How to work with an illustrator
The publisher’s role
Illustration begins with planning, not drawing. Before anyone draws anything, your publisher will provide the illustrator with the following:
- Book title
- A copy of the manuscript (whether finished or not)
- The physical size of the book
- Number of pages
The author’s role
Your interaction with the illustrator will likely be less than you expect. Many authors come to the publishing process with very specific ideas of what the art should look like. However, it’s important to remember your role in the process. You are the writer. Without you, there isn’t a book! Your publisher’s role is to get the book into the hand of the reader. The illustrator is a tool that the publisher uses to make this happen. Therefore, it is important that the writer trust the publisher to bring in an illustrator whose work will enhance the book, and ultimately its sales. So, beyond your written words, what the illustrator needs from you, the author is art notes.
In a recent post, author Marlo Garsnworthy offers these samples of what to do and not to do when making art notes for the illustrator:
Wrong/no art note needed:
Sally was skipping along the path when she lost her balloon. “Oooops!” she said.
[Art note: Illustration should be in watercolor, and Sally is short with blonde hair and she is skipping along a woodland path, holding a red balloon, but the string slips through her fingers and the balloon floats away.]
Correct/art note probably needed:
Sally skipped happily along the path. “Oooops!” she said.
[Art note: Sally loses her balloon.]
When writing art notes, less is always more.
At Certa Publishing, we have years of experience matching writers and illustrators. We would love to help do the same for you! And we will help to coordinate the entire process, from fee negotiation to final printing. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.