How to find a perfect illustrator for your children’s book!

Your words + perfect art = MAGIC

Does this sound familiar?

You were inspired to write a book for your kids. 

It took late nights and plenty of staring at the wall, but you got it done! 

The elation had you dancing in your kitchen with your kids, the vision of your future as a children’s author was brilliant and the excitement kept you up GOOGLING about publishing for hours.

After combing through FB groups, and Google U you’ve decided that you want to self-publish your work (and why not? Traditional publishers are right for some people sure, but you’d rather make your own decisions and keep all the profits thankyouverymuch!)

You’ve set off on the right path for you, but quickly arrive in Stucksville. 🤦‍♀️

The elation at the idea of reading your book to your kids – gone.

The vision of your new career – gone.

The excitement of finishing the book – gone, gone completely GONE.

Thanks to your thorough research you know it’s all up to you.

You can handle getting an ISBN and you’re good at managing projects, sure. But how are you supposed to find an illustrator? Surely you aren’t supposed to do it YOURSELF?! YIKES.

Happy woman and artwork
Your book. FINALLY.

On the hunt for illustrious illustrators!

Take some deep breaths, maybe carry the phone outside to relax or watch a cute kitten video. You are in the right place! 

Last year I did a podcast episode about the different ways to find an illustrator. To recap: 

How to find a perfect illustrator for your children’s book?

*Ask your friends & family
*Look into local art colleges & high schools
*Look in FB groups and on IG
*Use freelance internet sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99Designs.
*Make use of Unlimited Graphic Design sites like Kapa99

(for a more detailed explanation of these methods and what to watch out for, read or listen here

Hunting for a great illustrator can be exhausting and time consuming. It’s worth it of course, but what if there was a way to cut down on the time it takes?

I’ve put together a list of illustrators for just this reason, to help my students find their perfect illustrator faster. It seems silly to keep it just to ourselves though, because there are so many great artists who WANT to work on this list.

Have a look at the ‘Curated Contractors’ list on creativewrighter.com. You’ll notice there are also vetted editors and formatters there for you too!

Making Sure the Illustrator Matches Your Unique Vision

Recently I was a keynote speaker at the Children’s Book Mastery conference (check it out here) and the host – Karen (pronounced ‘Car-un’ just so you say it right in your head 😉) asked me about working with illustrators. 

Here’s  a snippet of our conversation:

“Karen: You could work with an illustrator or a formatter, or really a book designer or someone who does picture book layouts, to also plan that or to figure that out; but if you have your ideas prior to getting your illustrations, how would you go about then working with the illustrator to make sure the book matches your vision?

Laurie: I think I drew out for my illustrator on a piece of paper very badly with stick people, how I pictured it! And then she turned it into a storyboard! Which is a very rough layout of each of your pages and where the pictures and the text will go. It’s a great way to share your vision as an author with your illustrator.

Still though, it’s hard for us non-illustrators to look at those and say, ‘that’s what I like’ or ‘that’s what I don’t like’, because as you go through the process, even after seeing the storyboard, once you see the more detailed illustration, sometimes it’s, ‘Oh, that’s not working for me’. It’s just a collaborative process that you hopefully find somebody that you work well with. 

Communication & flexibility are SO important!

Laurie: There are lots of horror stories out there about not working well with an illustrator. So you want to find someone that you work well with. Make communication and response to feedback part of the vetting process as you’re interviewing illustrators (and formatters).

Make sure the communication is good, make sure both sides are willing to make movements to meet in the middle when needed. 

Laurie: I’ve heard stories of some illustrators who are so creative, they don’t want any vision from the writer, and in traditional publishing, that’s how it goes. You give them your words, and then you say goodbye to it, and then you see what comes back and usually it’s very good, but not necessarily your vision.”

Karen is the creator of ‘Get Your book Illustrations‘, where they provide indie authors with affordable illustrations. Are you in need of amazing illustrations? Check out her site!

Illustrators Share What they Want YOU to Know!

Last year after putting out the podcast episode about finding illustrators, it occurred to me that many new authors would need more information. I reached out to two illustrators, and asked them what they wished authors knew about working with freelance illustrators.

The first artist is James Koenig, (check out his awesome website here)

James wants new authors to realize that 120 -200 hours go into creating a picture book’s illustrations and to expect the project to take at least 3 months.

Listen to what else James wants you to know here on Facebook👈

The second artist who left me a message is Mina Anguelova. (have a look at her outstanding work here

Mina wants authors to trust in their illustrators, especially if they’ve taken the time to research and hire someone trustworthy.

Illustrator Mina Anguelova
Illustrator Mina Anguelova

You absolutely CAN publish your terrific book for kids!

It does take some work of course, there are many aspects of the project to manage but nothing is TOO MUCH or TOO HARD for you. You GOT this!

Want to know more about the process of self-publishing a book for kids? 

Grab the Starter Kit at creativewrighter.com to understand what the complete process looks like!


PS. Have more questions about finding the perfect illustrator? Pop them below!

Laurie Wright

Laurie Wright

Teacher turned author, turned children's mental health advocate. Laurie has given a TEDx talk, gives workshops for parents, teachers, and children, and has published five books in the Mindful Mantras series, all to help combat the crisis kids are currently facing. Teachers can't stop the urge to teach! A course for creatives who want to write for kids is coming soon!
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