Childbook 101 : How to commission an illustrator for your children book?

Bonjour! You have your children book script ready and you need to commission an illustrator for your children book? 

You probably know your children book like the back of your and but the illustrator, just like me, will needs to get to know it too! Both to do a quote and to see if the project subject is of their liking.

Get your email ready with the following:

What information to send to an illustrator to commission them?

1/ A summary of your book

No need to send the full book to the illustrator. First to keep the text to yourself as safety. You will share the full text with the illustrator once you both agreed to work together. So until then just two or three sentences about your book is more than enough to understand the subject of your book.

commission an illustrator for your children book

2/ How many illustrations will there be in your book ?

To know accurately the price a book, the illustrator must evaluate the length of work that will be needed to complete the book. 10 illustrations will be less expensive than 30 illustrations. So it is quite important to think ahead how to cut your book into pages. What pages will need an illustration? What will be the size of the illustration on that page?

commission an illustrator for you children book
Sleep tiny dreamer / Shanita Allen

Notice that depending on the age targeted by your book you will need more or less sentences on each spreads. Usually for very young kids, 5 and less, one sentence is enough per page. For older kids learning to read you can stay at one sentence but as they grow you can go to 2 to 3 sentences until 10 years old or so. Too much text on a page can be difficult for young reader.

A lot of space must be left to the illustration to keep the experience enjoyable.

3/ What art style are you looking for?

I’m thinking since you’re sending a mail to a specific illustrator you know their portfolio and so what kind of illustration style you want. But some illustrators like me have various art style in their portfolio. Don’t hesitate to send them a picture with the style that you liked most from their portfolio so they can know what you want.

Children illustration Isabelle arne
Ronnie The Helicopter / Dave Hoppmann
Sleep tiny dreamer / Shanita Allen
soda pop drop isabelle arne
Soda pop drop / Mallory Howell

The style of the illustration can also influence the price of the picture book creation. When you commission the illustrator for your children book, you can request a quote for each style.

4/ What is your agenda for your children book project?

You probably thought out your planning, when do you want to get the book out? When do you want to start the promotion?

The illustrator will need to know. First to see if they are available at that time and if the timeline is manageable.

For exemple for a 32 pages book like Sleep tiny dreamer I take around 3 months to complete the book. So if the timeline is too short I won’t be able to take the project. Each illustrator has its own rhythm so better ask them!

commission an illustrator for your children book

5/ What will be the format of your children book?

So many are the possibilities! It could be a 15 x 15 cm square book or a bigger 25 x 31 cm. In the end you are the one deciding!

I always advice my clients to go to a library, pick up a book they like and turn it into their hands to see if they like that size. It’s very important to know this information from the beginning because the illustrator will work with templates that will fit the book planned.

Ronnie The Helicopter / Dave Hoppmann

6/ How are you going to distribute the book?

So many possibilities here as well. If we are talking about the unconventional way of self publishing like we did before on this blog. Because you know me, I deeply enjoy self publishing!

So editors aside, where and how are you going to distribute your book? There is a lot of self publishing platforms, and since I am no expert on these, I highly advise you this article by Reedsy that talks about the best platforms out there.

how to commission an illustrator for your children book?
Some of the books I realized for self published authors

Send your mail now!

Now you’ve gathered all the informations you can send your email to the illustrator. It’s a very good way to start a conversation with the illustrator. The illustrator will be able to know your project and start considering it. The more you know about your project, the more serious you will look and let me tell you the illustrator will love it! I know I love a well organised author!

I hope this blog post helped you and if you have more questions about how to collaborate with an illustrator, comment below and I’ll do my best to answer !

And if you are looking for an illustrator send me a mail with your project:

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