For many authors, their book is more than text on a page – it's also made up of visuals that bring those words to life for their reader. This is especially true for authors looking to engage a younger crowd. One of the best parts about being a self-published author is that you have full creative control over how you want your book to look. But what's the best way to source artwork?
With the resources available for authors today, it's fairly easy to get illustrations done. If you feel confident in your artistic talents, simply do them yourself. You can also connect with a seasoned artist or hire a freelancer.
Here, Book1One explains how to get the artwork you've always imagined onto the pages of your book.
Book Illustrating 101
If you've decided to illustrate your own book, congratulations! You're already ahead of the game and can skip the other steps that may prolong the novel, poetry, or children's book printing process. The first thing to do is figure out your artistic style. If you've already published a book before and want to mirror that look of those images, you're set. If you're starting from scratch, it's time to do a little research.
Inspiration can come in many forms, such as:
- Classic stories: Do you have a favorite book or series that encouraged you to write your own? At your local library, you can find a wealth of award-winning tales. Here, you can flip through the pages of some of your favorites and review the meaningful details that you valued as a reader.
- New books: Recently printed books will likely reflect current trends in the market. Head to your local bookstore and start perusing the shelves. It's a good idea to aim for the books that target the same reader age range or storyline as your forthcoming title.
- Look online: The Internet is another great source of inspiration. If your goal is to illustrate in a specific artistic style (watercolor, line drawing, etc.), browse pieces that mirror this style to get the creative juices flowing.
Once you're gathered ideas, it's time to put pen to paper – or storyboard. A storyboard is an organizational tool that maps out your narrative. It makes it easier to see what the final product may look like once it's finished. Go through your manuscript and take notes of any people, places, and events that you may want to represent visually, and then organize those visuals on your storyboard.
The next step is to receive feedback. This could be from fellow authors, a sample of your target audience, or just a creative friend with an eye for design. They can tell you what works and what doesn’t work, as well as provide suggestions for changes you may not have thought of before.
Finally, it's time to organize your book's layout – images and text – into a digital file for your self-publishing company.
Hire a Professional Book Illustrator
Many self-published authors outsource the visual portion of their work. Partnering with a professional artist makes it easier to focus on the text and ensure the images come out just right. This route is beneficial for many reasons. Not only will you have the expertise of a seasoned professional on your side to avoid common mishaps in the process, but you'll also have access to a wider range of creative styles beyond your own artistic abilities.
For example, your book could have any of the following;
- Cartoon art: If your book should mirror the media your readers consume, cartoon art may be an ideal choice. In this style, your characters can pop off the page in a vibrant, relatable way.
- Comic book art: With bold images, bright colors, and thought bubbles leading the reader through engaging tales, comic book art has been widely popular for decades.
- Storybook art: If you're creating a traditional children's book, you may be picturing artwork from the classics, like the Little Golden Books and fairy tales of your childhood.
- Watercolor art: Depending on your narrative, watercolor may be just the thing you need to stand out on the shelf. These illustrations often create a whimsical, calming tone.
There are many places to find professional illustrators. If you've recently taken a writing class or joined a writing group, start by asking around. You never know who someone has in their network. Another place to look is the Internet. Websites like that of Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators make it easy to connect with fellow creatives and find essential resources that can help you complete your book.
Book1One also offers several useful links for self-published authors to expand their network and finalize other areas of their work.
Find a Freelancer
Hiring a freelancer is another route you can take in getting illustrations done for your project. Whether you're working on a tight budget or looking for fresh, new talent, a freelancer may be the ideal partnership. The benefits of hiring freelancers include:
- Flexibility: Freelancers often have a more flexible schedule than professionals, and you may be able to connect with someone willing to work with you on your timeline.
- Affordability: Many new freelancers are looking gain experience. If cost savings is a priority, a freelancer may be able to illustrate for you for a lower price than a seasoned artist.
- Large talent pool: Thanks to websites like Dribbble and Fiverr, it's easier than ever to connect with an artist who meets your vision and can work within your price range.
Another source for graphics and illustrations is Creative Market. Websites like this help designers earn money doing what they love. Here, authors can purchase pre-designed graphics to complement their work.
After you've found a few prospects, make sure to ask for some examples from their portfolio. This can help you narrow down the options, get a sense of their style, and visualize how their art pairs with your project.
Well-crafted illustrations can tell your story and help make your cover stand out on the shelf. And as a self-published author, you have the freedom to do your own illustrations, hire a professional book illustrator, or partner with a freelancer – the choice is up to you.