Picture Book Art #1: The Imperative of Great Art
The biggest mistake self-publishers make on children's books.
The biggest mistake made by self-publishers of children’s books, the big one that decides profit or loss, is the choice of an illustrator.
Last week, I received art for a new book and have been deep into the design and layout of the story. I’m in love with this art! I’m reminded again how much great art contributes to the success of a children’s picture book.
A great children’s picture book is a cooperation of words and images to create something bigger than either. It’s an immersive story that takes the reader on a journey of emotions, information, and delight. About half the impact comes from text and half from the art. Take either away and the story disappears.
Bad to Mediocre Art Ruins a Picture Book
Indeed, mediocre art is my biggest complaint for children’s independently published books. In my opinion, mediocre art in children’s books is what has given self-publishing its bad name. The writing and the story are important, but readers and critics will ignore any book with mediocre art. It has a predictive quality: if the art is mediocre, it’s likely the rest of the book is mediocre, as well.
To combat this huge error, I plan to spend five days talking in depth about issues related to acquiring and using art in a children’s picture book. The series will be for paid subscribers; if you’re reading without a subscription, this article is a good introduction.
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I’ll be navigating the complexities of hiring someone to illustrate your story. And then, the joys and pains of working with a great illustrator.
Our goal: produce the best book possible!
For that, we need the best art possible! With over 40 published picture books, I’ve worked with many artists and have some inspiring (and not-so-inspiring) stories to tell! My goal is to hone your ability to hire an artist who will help you build a successful publishing program. And while we’re at it, let’s have some fun!