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  • Brett Oliver Parson

4 Tips to Finding the RIGHT Illustrator

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

Now that you’ve finished writing your book and you’ve had an editor, or two, review it, what’s next? Yes, it’s time to find an illustrator, but where do you look? There are three facts about illustrators that you need to know:

Fact 1: There is NO shortage of illustrators

Fact 2: Not all illustrators are Created Equal

Fact 3: The cost of illustration varies by experience and skill

I’ve personally spent a lifetime learning and appreciating visual art, specifically through pencil and paint on canvas. My father, Leon Parson, is a world-renown artist who has achieved countless awards for his work. His brother, Del Parson, is of the same acclaim. I am also fortunate enough to have siblings who are artists, my sister Holly Parson Nielsen, and brother Justin Parson, who illustrated and created the graphic design and print layout for the award-winning book The Twelve Hats of Christmas.

My upbringing helped me to know the difference between bad, mediocre, and great art, which has helped me with my books, but how can this help anyone who is interested in finding the best matched illustrator for their own books?

Here are 4 Tips for Finding the BEST Illustrator for Your Needs

Tip #1 – Establish A Budget

Creating a budget to print your book
Establish a Budget

You need to first determine how much you want to spend on illustrations. The national average cost to hire an illustrator is $2000, but pricing can vary depending on the medium, complexity, and usage rights of the project. However, according to The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, the cost is anywhere between $1000 - $10,000 per book. Bestselling author Joanna Penn shares her estimates for a 32-page picture book with an average between $3,000-$12,000 that includes 20 illustrations that equates anywhere from $150 to $600 per illustration.

Tip #2 – Know WHAT You’re Looking For

Woman looking at paintings to decide which she likes most
Which Artist Should You Choose?

Read as many books as you can get your hands on and study the illustrations until you discover what style you prefer and that will compliment your book the best. Then go looking for your illustrator that matches that style. This might feel a bit backwards, but it will save you A LOT of time, and money, if you mistakenly hire the wrong illustrator.

Tip #3 – Join a Writers & Illustrators Group

Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators

My favorite, and one that I am also a member of is, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, or SCBWI for short. You will rub shoulders with published authors and illustrators, as well as peers just like you who are seeking information about publishing their works. Another great resource is the Children’s Illustrators website.

Tip #4 – Get Published

Typing on a typewriter
Let's Get Published!

It’s always a good idea to submit your manuscript to a traditional publishing house and hope that they accept it. If they do, they will pair you with the best illustrator that they feel matches your manuscript’s message and personality. This saves you the most money and places the “decisions” on the publisher.

The Takeaway

This should be the “fun” part of the process so do just that . . . have FUN!

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