I speak with children’s picture book authors almost daily here at MindStir Media. The question that arises most often is probably some variation of: “Should I create my own children’s book illustrations or should I hire a professional children’s book illustrator?” My initial answer is usually incredibly simple and to the point. Here it is: If you aren’t a pro children’s book illustrator, you should definitely hire one! I usually go on to explain the reasons why hiring children’s book illustrators is so important….
- Your self-published children’s picture book will be competing with traditionally published books. Nearly every traditionally published picture book I’ve seen has been illustrated by a pro. If you want your book to have a fighting chance in the market, it needs to be of the highest quality! This means biting the bullet and hiring a pro. I know sometimes it’s tough to part with the money, but investing in a pro illustrator could pay off over time. This leads to my next reason…
- I’ve examined the MindStir Media book sales numbers for professionally illustrated books vs. books illustrated by amateurs. Guess which books sold more copies… Professionally illustrated, by over 200%. So if you want your book to have a better chance at selling more copies, make sure it’s illustrated by a pro.
- It’s been my experience that most reviewers are selective and will only give focus to books that catch their attention — books that look professional! Don’t be that picture book author who sends a reviewer a lackluster book. It’ll probably get tossed or donated, not reviewed.
- The previous reason segues nicely into your credibility. An amazingly illustrated book will only add credibility to your writing career. It will show readers, reviewers and booksellers that you’re serious enough about your career to team up with a professional. This builds trust and opens doors for you that might otherwise have been closed.
- Finally, hiring a pro children’s book illustrator, one with extensive experience, will help you feel more confident about your book. Confidence means a lot for an author. It means that you don’t need to hide. You can get out there and promote, promote, promote and know that many people are going to perceive your book as a high-quality product.
A final note: There are many different definitions out there for “professional children’s book illustrators.” Mine is rather straightforward and it is the definition I generally use when hiring illustrators to work on MindStir Media books: A pro children’s book illustrator has an extensive portfolio, including at least 10 published books under his/her belt, and he/she makes a living creating children’s book illustrations. I realize that definition is rather strict, but I only want to see authors work with the best!
J.J. Hebert, the author of this article, is the #1 Amazon bestselling author of Unconventional and Weepy the Dragon. He has personally helped thousands of writers nationwide, through consultations and self-publishing services, and regularly blogs on writing and self-publishing. He is also the president and owner of MindStir Media, a top self-publishing company that offers services such as mentoring from a bestselling author, book design, childrens book illustrations, editing, printing, ebook conversion, distribution and marketing.