Updated: Jul 10, 2019
We as writers put a lot of time and energy into creating our awesome children’s picture books. But we also have to remember that illustrators do the same; they work just as hard to bring our children’s books to life. And because of this, we have to realize that asking illustrators to work on a “tight budget” can be deemed inconsiderate and downright insulting.
So, how can writers solve this budget dilemma? Besides stashing a couple of dollars away here and there or starting a Kickstarter campaign, learn how you can cut illustration costs without sacrificing the quality of your book ― and going broke.
Get Rid of Unnecessary Text
You may be using a lot of adjectives to describe the setting, plot, or your character’s appearance and emotions. Actually, those adjectives can be translated into your illustrations. For example, the original text and illustration instructions for “Scary, Scary Sasha” stated that her younger brother Dylan is wearing a “black and orange” spider costume. But “black and orange” was omitted so the illustrations can show what the costume looked like, ultimately eliminating unnecessary words and providing more room for imagery. (See image above)
Explore Different Types of Illustration Styles
As a writer, you probably have already visualized the style of illustration that is perfect for your book. Pencil and watercolor illustrations may have caught your eye. Or, maybe modern styles like digital illustration and vector graphics suit your story best. Depending on your story and the illustrator’s level of experience, certain illustration styles may cost more than others. Talk with your illustrator and ask which style fits your story (and budget) best.
Reconfigure the Number of Illustrations Needed
Many picture books have a variety of illustration types: boxed (illustrations with straight edges and borders), single- and full-paged bleeds (illustrations that run off the page), and vignettes (also called “spots”; isolated illustrations with loosely defined edges and no background). Depending on your story, you may only need a certain amount of full-page bleeds and more vignettes. Or, maybe adding vignettes throughout the entire book will engage your readers more. Some types may cost more than others, so make sure you examine your story carefully and figure out what works best. And your illustrator may be willing to work with you on the best illustration for each page.
Choose Existing Illustrations for the Cover
Most writers would probably want a unique book cover separate from all the other illustrations, which is completely understandable. But, you can still have an engaging cover by using existing illustrations from your book! Using existing illustrations will save your illustrator a lot of time and could possibly save you money, since the illustrator doesn’t have to create a brand new illustration for the cover. Plus, some of the illustrations in your book can also be used in any future marketing materials you may want to create, including emails, direct mail materials, and social media ads.