Are you writing your first children's book? Are you looking for someone to help you with the illustrations? It's common in the children's book world for one person to write the story and the other to do the illustrations. Artistic ability and storytelling are two separate skill sets, so there is a wide pool of artists available who specialize in children's book artwork. However, you want to make sure that you partner with the right artist and that the artist understands your vision. If you've never worked with an illustrator before, you may not be sure how to communicate your goals and ideas. Here are three tips to help you work better with your illustrator:
Set a realistic budget. Very often, first-time writers will have an inflated sense of how well their book will sell. Subsequently, they'll try to hire an illustrator with a promise of royalties or a cut of future earnings. Most experienced and skilled illustrators are in demand and aren't likely to find that type of arrangement appealing. If you want high-quality illustrations in your book, you should be prepared to pay a fair amount out-of-pocket for the illustrations. You may be able to use royalties as part of the compensation package, but don't expect an illustrator to work for royalties only.
If an illustrator is willing to work for only royalties, that could be a red flag that they're not in-demand or they're inexperienced. That may not be a bad thing, but you'll want to closely examine a large portfolio of their work.
Be specific with your needs. The more thought you put into the illustrations, the better prepared the illustrator can be when he or she gets down to work. How many illustrations do you need and on which pages? What age range are you trying to target? Do you want the illustrations to be sharp and crisp or more whimsical and loosely drawn? What will be the dimensions of the finished book?
Try and have all this information before you start contacting illustrators. They can then let you know whether they're a good fit for your book. If not, they may be able to recommend another illustrator.
Give feedback, but don't micromanage. You hired the artist because you like their work, right? You probably wouldn't want them to tell you how to write the story, so you shouldn't tell them how to illustrate a children's book. However, that doesn't mean you can't give feedback. If you don't like the way an illustration has turned out or you feel the tone is off, don't hesitate to tell them. In fact, you should tell the illustrator as soon as possible so they don't continue down the wrong path. However, resist the temptation to tell them specifically how to do their job.
For more information, talk to a children's book illustrator. They can help you create the perfect illustrations for your children's book.