There are many decisions an independent author must make when deciding to publish a children’s book. And one of the biggest decisions revolves around illustrations. If you are trying to publish your book traditionally through a publishing company, you more than likely will not have to choose an illustrator. Most traditional publishing houses do not what children’s books submitted with existing illustrations. They have in-house illustrators or a group of illustrators on contract that they use. But as an indie author, this choice is critical.
A key component of any story, illustrations are what grab the reader’s attention and draws them into the words. There is a growing trend right now in illustration using 3D stylized illustrations. I will admit, I am not a huge fan of this type of art. But with that being said, 3D is becoming increasingly prevalent and has a place in the big world of illustration. I feel it is important, though, to choose illustrations that match your style of writing.
You might start to feel overwhelmed when people start talking styles of images: realism, cartoon art, expressionism, impressionism, surrealism, folk art, literal, conceptual, 3D, whimsical, pencil, charcoal, watercolor, Gouache, wood cutting. Are you still with me?
If you want to know what these terms mean, Graphic Mama has a good primer about illustrations.
What I do recommend is going to the library or your own collection of children’s books to look at the art. Make a stack of what you like and what you don’t like, take pictures (for reference ONLY, we don’t want any copyright infringement) of what you like and what you don’t like. Make a “pros and cons” list. This will be your roadmap to finding an illustrator who can create images you like.
There is an interesting article that gives a brief history of children’s picture books and the art of visual story telling. Take a few moments and read it if you have a chance.
Next time, I will talk about finding an illustrator and the resources that are out there to help.