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The ABC’s of Hiring a Children’s Book Illustrator

The ABC’s of Hiring a Children’s Book Illustrator

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You are a children’s books author with one hell of a draft only waiting to be published.

However, there is one major ingredient missing – the illustrations. Now you’re stuck with a question – how do you actually find a picture book illustrator?

If you’re stuck in this situation, we are more than happy to tell you that, at the end of this post, you will know exactly how to hire a children’s book illustrator.

Allowing you to focus on other things on your To Do-list, it will also take away a bit of the pressure that’s weighing you down.

Sound good to you? Perfect.


The big question

First you have to answer the most important question:

Do you want a publisher, or are you planning on publishing the story yourself?

Depending on the answer your next steps will differ considerably.

a)  You go with a publisher

Well, good news – you don’t have to even think about finding an illustrator for your story.

Wait, what?

Yes, it’s true. If you send your manuscript, only your manuscript – no additional drawings, (please!), to your editor, they will do the job of hiring an illustrator for you.

And that’s pretty much it.

However, there are a few things you should know.

  • Don’t send any illustrations with your manuscript. Publishers have plenty of experience and are fully capable of seeing the story come to life in front of their inner eye; it’s their job.
    Should this not be the case, it’s probably not their fault, but yours – and you should invest more time to work on your story so your readers can dive right in.
  • The publishing house will make you wait, most likely, for a couple of months. However, if they don’t get back to you within, say, 3 months, you should send your manuscript to the next publishing house on your list. BUT – do not withdraw it from your first choice until you’ve definitely found someone that you are happy with to publish your book. You never know, your first choice could get back to you later. You might just want to let them know that you’re also looking elsewhere.

Everything alright? Perfect – go send that manuscript right now.


Your answer to the big question was different? Read the following:

b) You go for self-publishing

If you don’t trust anyone but yourself, that’s fine – it might just be slightly
more complicated (and expensive).

Ideally, this is not your first draft, and you have quite a number of great illustrators,
ready to start working for you, at your disposal.
If this is not the case, you have several possibilities.

  • You do some good ol’ Google research.
    Professional illustrators have their own website and social media profiles (often they even have a blog). You can simply browse their sites and see what they have to offer.

Once you have found a variety illustrators that arouse your interest you should
start contacting them. Be sure to include vital basic information on your project:

  • What’s the overall subject of your book? Give a summary of the plot.
  • What’s your budget?
  • Who’s your target audience, and what’s their age range?
  • How many illustrations do you need? Also, include remarks on their size and their colouring.
  • When do you intend to publish your book? In other words – when’s the deadline for the illustrations to be submitted? (You might keep that to yourself in case the illustrator you’ve contacted is genuinely interested in your job and willing to prioritize it.)
  • Last but not least: where did you come across this particular illustrator and why did you choose them?


At the end…

All the questions have been answered and you have finally found an illustrator for your project and handed over the complete manuscript? You’ve come to an agreement?

That’s wonderful!

Nonetheless, we would still like to draw your attention to two more details:

  • Be aware of the fact that the process of illustrating takes time.
    Loads of time. Depending on the size of your picture book this can even take up to a year until it’s ready for publishing. Have that in mind when you make your schedule.
  • Give your artist the creative freedom they need.
    Naturally, it’s important to tell them during the early stages, if you are not satisfied with the results, but let them do their job and let their creative juices flow.
    The scenes in your mind might be good, but who says theirs aren’t equally as?
    What we want to say is: interact with each other, but also leave each other be
    when it is time to do so – this book belongs to both of you and you both want it to be good.


That is all we can do for you at this stage.
We hope we could help you. If so – share this post, so we can help others too.

If you want to know what your story could look like once it’s done check out our top 13 examples of children’s book illustrations that will leave you breathless and think how good your story would look on there.

We’re also incredibly curious to hear about your experiences with finding an illustrator for your children’s book. Tell us in the comments!


We wish you the best of luck for your project and can’t wait to see your results! 🙂

See you soon!

Nitzy x


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4 thoughts on “The ABC’s of Hiring a Children’s Book Illustrator

  1. I’ve been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never
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  2. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he just bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch! “Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” by James Stephens.

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