To Be or Not to Be an Illustrator

Aspiring writers sometimes mistakenly assume that they need to provide illustrations for their picture books. Having looked at the variety of amazing illustrations in children's books today, you probably find this notion very intimidating. If you are a writer and not an illustrator, there is no need to worry — most often, publishers take on the responsibility of finding an illustrator for books they publish. If you believe you have the ability to illustrate your own work, you may well have the opportunity to do so, but you need to take a close look at your artwork before choosing to submit it.

It's a good idea to visualize illustrations to accompany your text while writing. This will help you see if you are creating a well-rounded story. However, just because you can visualize pictures to go along with your story doesn't mean you can draw them, nor does it mean that those images will or should accompany your text.

What Are Your Qualifications?

If you want to submit illustrations for your book, think about your qualifications. Because writing and illustrating are looked upon as two separate talents, you need to be able to prove that you are adept at both. Do you have a degree from an art school? Have you published other illustrations? Does your work stand up to professional standards?

Publishers often view writers and illustrators as separate people with separate skills, so if you are eager to illustrate your own book, you will have to convince the publishing company that you are the best artist for the job. You must realize that you will be in competition with other professional illustrators.

Assessing Your Skill

If you still believe that you are the best person to illustrate your book, browse through a variety of children's books from those publishers that may potentially publish your book and pay close attention to the illustrations. How does your artwork compare to these published illustrations? While these artists certainly have their own individual styles, they may also have a common quality that was imposed by the publisher. Can you pinpoint what that quality is? Will you be able to alter your style to fit in with the style of the publishing company?

It helps to get an outside opinion when assessing your skill as an illustrator. Consider showing your artwork to a critique group or hiring a professional illustrator to take a look at your work and provide feedback.

Aside from meeting a specific publishing company's needs, does your artwork suit children's books in general? For instance, consider whether you are able to capture exactly what is needed to move the story along. Do your drawings have too much action taking place, or not enough? Will your work appeal to children? Would you be able to illustrate a book other than your own? You will need to convince the publisher of your skill as an illustrator separate from that as a writer.

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