This is the second instalment in my six week series called
Picture Books: Making It Count
I hope you find some interesting tips here. Thanks for reading!
Jill Carter-Hansen, Illustrator of Bearly There
(Windy Hollow Books, 2013)
Part 2: How Do I Find An Illustrator For My Picture Book?
For those seeking commercial publication, one thing that holds them back is the belief that they need to find and pay for an artist to illustrate their work before they submit it to a publisher.
Whenever I run a picture book course or speak to beginner writers, one of the first questions I’m asked is ‘Where I can find an illustrator for my picture book?’.
This is a common misconception people have when they’re starting out.
Unless you’re thinking of self-publishing, the task of finding an illustrator is undertaken by the publisher.
Publishers work with several, if not many, illustrators. They may even have a ‘stable’ of illustrators who they regularly employ on projects, whether they are picture books, chapter books or book covers.
Authors may not even know the illustrator who is commissioned to work on their picture book. I’ve worked on a book where the illustrations were done by two manga artists living in Japan.
Fangs was a full-colour illustrated chapter book
(a little unusual - chapter books normally have B&W illustrations).
The drawings were done by a Japanese manga group called Gurihiru.
Other books I’ve worked on have involved illustrators who live in different states. Our only correspondence has been via email or sometimes telephone. Sometimes not at all. In other cases, I’ve known the illustrator before they’ve signed onto the project or met them afterwards and become firm friends with them. We’ve even held joint events to launch or promote our new picture book.
Different types of relationships will evolve on different projects. This is all normal.
The publisher or editor will act as the middle-man or conduit for the relationship. They will manage the editing of both the text and the illustrations, passing on information or queries or feedback. This may seem a strange process to some, but the practice is conducted industry-wide and from my experience it works well because it allows each party their own creative freedom.
What the publisher does want to see from an author is fresh, clever, original words. And usually words alone. Your words have to stand out. They have to SING.
It wasn't until well and truly after our book, Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine, had been published that the illustrator and I actually got to meet. I live in QLD and Shane McGrath lives in VIC, so we were separated by geography. We spoke on the phone and via email quite a lot throughout the book creation process, however.