The Self-Publishing Insider

The cost to hire an illustrator depends on many factors, including those discussed here by the self-publishing assistance experts at Publish Pros.

The Cost of Illustrating a Children’s Book

When writing a children’s book, the illustrations are a big part of the book. While the writing is important, you want to make sure the pictures match the story and grab your young readers’ attention. To help you understand children’s book illustration and pick the best illustrator for your story, Publish Pros has put together some information to help you understand the cost to hire an illustrator.

How do I illustrate a children’s book?

There are a couple different ways to provide illustrations for your book. If you are an artist, you can draw the pictures yourself. For some writers, this is a workable solution—they might have an artistic background or have been a children’s book illustrator before writing their own book. However, while it is cheaper to do it yourself, if you don’t know what you’re doing, this can be a disaster. You want pictures that correspond with the story and make children want to pick up your book, and if you aren’t familiar with art or children’s book illustrations, this might not happen.

Another option is to ask a friend or family member to draw the pictures for you. While this can also be a cheaper option, this doesn’t always work out well. What should be a strictly professional relationship can end up being personal, creating a difficult situation to manage. If the pictures aren’t quite what you’re looking for or if the illustrator ends up not being as good as you thought, you could have an awkward situation to deal with. On top of that, if you decide to stop using them, your book release will be delayed since you now have to find another illustrator.

Another negative to creating the illustrations yourself (unless you are an experienced book illustrator) or having a friend or relative do them is a potential lack of knowledge on the right formatting, size and resolution needed to submit to a print-on-demand or traditional printer. If you want to integrate text into the illustrations, this also has to be taken into account when the illustrations are being created.

The best route is to hire an experienced children’s book illustrator. You will be able to find someone who can provide the kind of art you’d like in your book, as you’re able to see their previous work and either read reviews or talk to former clients. Most illustrators will do a paid sample specific to your project too. The pictures will look professional and they will be aware of the requirements for publishing.

What makes illustration cost higher or lower?

There are many different factors that impact the cost to hire an illustrator. Some illustrators charge as little as $500 for a whole book, while others charge $20,000. More characters and more complex backgrounds mean more money, as the pictures will take longer for the illustrator to complete. Some illustrators also charge more for additional revisions, especially after line art has been approved and color has been added.

An illustrator who says they will draw pictures quickly and cheaply can mean they are using clip art, which doesn’t look professional. Color pictures cost more than black and white and are also more expensive to print. Consider your audience before deciding whether or not to include color. Most young children would rather read a book with color illustrations, while those reading beginner chapter books may be fine with black and white.

Many authors successfully save money on illustrations by working with someone who is overseas. Just be prepared to deal with potential language barriers and different time zones. Wherever your illustrator is from, be sure their price includes commercial use. Commercial use is generally more expensive, but it is necessary if your book is going to be offered for sale.

While cutting costs on illustrations can seem like a good way to save money, illustrations for children’s books are one of the most important parts of successfully publishing your story. Invest in a quality illustrator and it will pay off in the long run.