I been in this same situation a number of times. I understand you've
already committed to the project, but the following information might
be helpful to yourself and others in the future.

When approached with this request, I explain to the author that, in
general, publishers prefer to first accept a manuscript and then find
an illustrator. I don't know the reasons, but this is the tendency. So
I refer the author to any number of books that are available on writing
and publishing children's books, and suggest that they first get their
manuscript accepted by a publisher. Then I would be glad to provide a
sample illustration(s) and take things from there. That usually
discourages most people.

You might also explain that illustrating the typical picture book can
take an average of approximately a year. This includes sketching and
"getting to know" your characters, exploring them from different views,
in different positions. Also explain that you can't afford to work for
free. While you would expect to get royalties once the book is
published, a publisher would also pay a certain amount up front (an
advance on royalties); is your friend prepared to do the same? Asking
someone to work for free on the chance that a book is published is a
BIG favor. It is, of course, a different matter if it's a project (or
person) close to your heart. Then it is a labor of love and my comments
are moot.

Please note that there are always exceptions to the rule... but this
might help in discussing future book projects. Good luck.


On May 3, 2004, at 9:28 AM, J.D. Lake wrote:

> Hello everyone,
> I've agreed (begrudgingly) to illustrating a children's book for a
> friend
> of mine.  It's been so long since I've done any cartooning and was
> wondering if anyone would have any suggestions or could direct me to
> some
> helpful reference material.  I've been staring at blank illustration
> board
> or throwing it across the room in fits of anger since I attempted to
> begin.  I'm near the end of my rope.  Thanks for any assistance or
> advice
> (other than I shouldn't have agreed to do it).
> Joel
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