Lisa Maltby @Lisa_Maltby Designer, illustrator, typographer, writer, speaker and craftswoman. Creative busy-body. 📸 Insta: www.instagram.com/lisamaltbycreative/ Feb. 05, 2020 3 min read

I get a lot of emails asking me to illustrate children’s books for individuals who are keen to write their own stories. I thought I’d write a thread on this to give some insight into publishing and expectations in the hope this is helpful...

...Before approaching an illustrator, think about how you’re going to go about producing the book. Are you approaching publishers? Self publishing? If you want to sell it, how are you going to advertise it?...

...If you’re approaching publishers you do not need to have an illustrator - most publishers match illustrators to the manuscript and an art director would commission the illustration work. Publishers get a lot of submissions so be prepared for a long wait (if you get a reply)...

...research publishers beforehand to check your work fits with other books they produce (eg. don’t approach adult fiction publishers if you are producing a picture book). If you’re producing yourself then you need to think about how you are going to fund it...

...There are online companies that can help you bring your book to reality but you may be limited by their specifications. A lot of self-publishers decide to take the route of crowdfunding such as Kickstarter so they have more control over the end result...

...Look into costs for printing based on the type of quality you’re looking for and quantities. Printing books can cost thousands, especially if you want to produce beautiful hard-backed books. Be sure to account for this if raising funds on Kickstarter...

...You will need to match an illustrator to the tone of your story/age range – eg. If you’re aiming at under 5s, you may need an illustrator who works in bright colour or tackles characters well, if it’s educational you may need something more detailed/observational and so on...

...Look for illustrators who specialise in children’s books or who are actively seeking this sort of work unless you see a style you’re sold on. Most illustrators also won’t copy other artist’s work so look carefully at portfolios and get a feel for the type of work they do...

...If crowdfunding, you also do not need to produce a whole book before launching, you just need to give an indication of the content, style, and proposed finish. You should only commission a full book when you have full funding...

...Have the book visualised in rough and only commission final work of a cover and 1/2 spreads max. TEST your story on kids/parents before paying a lot of money. Would people buy it? Get feedback so you can make changes before getting an illustrator to complete final work...

...Research costs for illustration/typesetting/design to your spec. Creating books takes a lot of time — a 32 page kids’ picture book can be months of work. If you only have a few hundred quid think about the quality - will it entice sales? Illustration is what will sell it...

...Selling kids books is HARD, even with a good product. Don’t try to bargain with illustrators with the promise of fees on sales - this rarely pays. Don’t expect illustrators to share the same vision as your dream project - this is their job and how they pay their bills...

...If the book is purely a personal project for the kids in your life, get them involved. This will be a far more personal keepsake even if it isn’t ‘perfect’. You can use online album book producers to get one or two books made so you don’t have to buy in bulk...

Don’t just have a goal to tick a box of being ‘a published author’, see it as a business venture you need to plan well for and invest in. Good luck! 👍


You can follow @Lisa_Maltby.



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