A few years ago I wrote an article for the Christian Small Publishers Association Newsletter about what self-publishing authors should expect when contracting with a professional illustrator. The article was a walk through the process: initial consultation, fees, preliminary sketches, final art, ownership, and all the business particulars.

With self-publishing becoming bigger than ever, more authors are calling on professional artists to illustrate their books. Understandably there is a bit of sticker shock when the subject of fees come up.

The disparity between the two children’s book Christmas images is meant to be humorous and obvious. On the left, I played extreme novice, and on the right, seasoned professional. There might be a place for the primitive image in your book, but generally most authors prefer the one on the right.

There is also a disparity in fees. These two images vary considerably in how much they cost.

Fees involve the amount of time that goes into creating art, the value it will add to your writing, and whether readers will enjoy your book or regard it as amateurish. Fees will vary according to rights purchased, usage, and other legal considerations. That will all be discussed during consultation, but there should be a realistic consideration that professional work incurs professional rates.

I encourage aspiring authors to go pro when it comes to art. If you have confidence in your writing, please have confidence in professional artists. They will do everything in their ability to make your work a delight for the eyes. Self-publishing is a considerable investment, and only you know what you can afford. I believe the prospects of recouping your investment, much less making a profit, will be jeopardized by skimping on artwork.

I’m writing primarily as a children’s book illustrator and to authors writing for that market. My advice is to visit childrensillustrators.com to review a wide range of excellent portfolios showcasing a large pool of great illustrators. Of course I’m on there, and I hope you call me, but look over all of us and find that special artist you believe will make your words shine. I wish you a beautiful book and great success!

Manger Scenes ©2017 Ed Koehler