Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: April 16th, 2012 ]

Like ghost writing or copyediting, illustrations take time and require a great deal of skill and talent. It is important to remember that illustrators must be paid fairly for their time and expertise. The price for illustrations can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. It depends on the size and complexity of your project. When considering illustrations, it is important to do some research, figure out your goals, and create a budget. Once you know your expectations, you’ll want to find an illustrator who meshes with your style. To do this, find out if your self publishing company offers illustration services and get a quote. You can also look at sites such as guru.com or elance.com to find a freelance illustrator. Be sure to always look at sample work before choosing an illustrator. There are many different styles, and you want to find an artist who matches your vision.

For more information on illustrations, check out these articles.

The Importance of Illustrations

What You Need to Know About Custom Covers

Illustrations Affect the Success of You Children’s Book

– by Cheri Breeding

I love Cheri’s post from 2012 in part because she has such a legacy on this blog of creating a space for illustration and fine art in the context of self-publishing.  Her attitude is not all that common!  Like many contractors with carefully curated skill sets, illustrators often struggle to make ends meet as well as earn the respect they deserve for a lifetime of work.  Why is this?  In part, it’s because illustrators often do not own the rights to the work that others commission, or pay for.  This depends on what contract they sign with the commissioner, of course, but self-publishing authors know all about what it’s like to sign away rights to something, and thereby lose access to future profits.  Illustrators also often struggle because making art for someone else just doesn’t have the social cachet or respect as making art for the sake of art.

The world can be an very unfair place.  But you don’t have to be!

To expand a little upon what Cheri rightfully included in her original post, I thought I’d provide a couple of resources to get you started calculating hard numbers–actual figures to pay any illustrator you hire.  And I won’t lie: good art doesn’t come cheap.  In fact, if you’re hiring someone and they’re not asking for much, you should always go back and re-read the fine print.  They may just be young illustrators starting out and looking to build their portfolios, or otherwise inexperienced in the market, or something more sinister.  It’s worth checking.

The first step is finding the illustrator whose art you like, right?  Between the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (very respectable, high-end) and DeviantArt (a real mix of experienced and inexperienced illustrators) it’s fairly easy to find what you need.  If you’re still feeling a bit lost, this article from The Creative Penn provides a handy launchpad for further illustrator-sleuthing.

The second step is negotiating a commission fee and contract.  I find it’s most helpful to start from the same materials that illustrators are using to determine their requested charges, and this article from the Business of Illustration blog is one that my illustrator friends keep pointing me to.  It is thorough, and allows for multiple different scenarios.  Illustrators Online provides a handy chart to start your rough calculations–another excellent resource.  And Elizabeth O. Dulemba provides a list of questions to ask before hiring an illustrator, specifically geared towards authors.

Last but not least, it’s worth keeping bundles in mind.  I mean the service bundles provided by hybrid or self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press, which provides options for a custom-designed book cover as well as full-color illustrations.  If you’re already looking for an avenue to self-publish your book, keep an eye out for deals and price specials amongst these bundles–it’s a great way to save money and let someone else manage the fiddly bits.

No matter which option you choose, do your own calculations.  Price check your illustrators!  And most importantly of all, get in direct contact with every contractor who is going to design material for your book.  The more an illustrator knows your mind, the more quickly and easily he or she will be able to create artwork that meets or even exceeds your expectations!

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠



KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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