Who Chooses Illustrator?

When working toward a children’s picture book, who chooses the illustrator? Many traditional publishing houses prefer to pick one from previous projects. That way they can pair a better known name with a lesser known name and try to maximize visibility and lend experience to both. On the other hand, you may know people the publishing houses do not.  If you do, then “who chooses the illustrator” can become a factor in where or how to publish.

I tried to poke around a little bit on the internet to address the scenario of a writer wanting to work with a specific illustrator. It seems like a lot of people in that scenario just jump into self-publishing. Unfortunately that isn’t very helpful for those wishing to pursue traditional publishing.

I suspect the best person to ask would be an agent. Sadly I know of no agents to suggest, let alone ask for a guest post.

Ultimately, though, the writer chooses the illustrator. I mean, it boils down to the contract. Most may sign away that right for the sake of an advance or a shot at professional marketing. Still, let’s not prematurely strip authors of their rights.

If an illustrator is integral to your concept, then that needs to be explicit in your proposal and several illustrations will need to be attached along with your excerpt or manuscript. If the publisher accepts your proposal with a counter-offer, then that’s that. Maybe they’d insist on severing text from image, but maybe not.

One complicating factor may be contracts. Typically publishers have different contracts with the illustrator than the author. There are simply different expectations. However, maybe if you approach the publisher essentially together under one voice, perhaps the contract would be more like co-authors. I don’t really know, of course, but this business side of things should be considered.

Now, I’ll tell you this. If you’re a Lutheran looking to use a Lutheran illustrator, you can certainly name names with any Lutheran publishing house, large or small. Obviously writing and illustration aren’t Lutheran-only fields in any way, but it’s neat to find Lutheran-kin, so to speak, professional or personally. Kloria Publishing, for example, likes to use Lutheran artists when it can.

The biggest downer remains that it’s just plain hard to get children’s books published. Anywhere. 🙁 And, though I’m particularly proud of my children’s content, I’m right there with you! Sigh.

For further reading on illustrators I found this article, “10 Things to Know When Working with Illustrators,” helpful and insightful.

Thanks for the question, Robert! I hope that helps, at least a little.

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