“Who should I get to illustrate my manuscript?”

Writing Picture Books: What Works and What Doesn’tThat’s just one of the questions posed in the chapter “Illustration” in my e-book Writing Picture Books: What Works and What Doesn’t. The answer?

No one. Not your brother or friend who likes to draw or your talented aunt who painted the picture over the sofa at your cottage and would love to illustrate your book. Only a professional illustrator with the artistic ability and technical training needed for book illustration should approach your manuscript with a paintbrush or a piece of chalk.

“But what if my brother/friend/aunt is a professional illustrator with the technical training and artistic ability needed for book illustration? What then?”

An already-illustrated manuscript is in a tricky position when it arrives on an editor’s desk. If the illustrations are great but the manuscript wobbly, the publisher may opt to work with the illustrator but reject the manuscript. If the illustrations are amateurish or mediocre, the publisher mightaccept your story and not your friend’s artwork, but many publishers would rather return the whole package than get involved in the potentially tricky situation of accepting only part of it.

Other questions covered in that chapter include:

  • “But what if I’m a writer and an illustrator and want to illustrate my story myself?”
  • “What if I’m not an illustrator and don’t know any illustrators?”
  • “What if the illustrator hired doesn’t see the story the way I do?”
  • “Will I get to meet the illustrator, or see the work s/he is doing on my book?”

Would you like to know more about writing picture books before you undertake writing your own? Or before submitting what you’ve written to a publisher?

Why not order your own copy of this guide by the author of such classics as Red is Best and The Man with the Violin?

Share this post:

Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson


  1. Elizabeth Campbell on August 21, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Hi Kathy! I am interested in getting a copy of this book, however, I can't find anything to say what format it is in. I don't have an ereader. I was hoping I could get it in PDF format. Does it come in that format, too? Or, if I paid for the ebook, would you be kind enough to send me a copy in PDF format? BTW, if you are in Kenora sometime, it would be lovely to see you again. You and your clan were among my favourite summer folk!

  2. Elizabeth Campbell on August 21, 2014 at 8:04 am

    I went back and saw the note under the add to cart button – PDF! Great! Thank you! And please excuse my bad eyesight… :o)

  3. Kathy Stinson on August 21, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Hi Elizabeth. Glad you were able to find that the book comes as a PDF, so you can read it wherever you'd like. And I see that you've now placed your order, which means my assistant will be sending you the book shortly. I hope you'll find it useful!

    I was in Kenora again this summer, lamenting the loss of your bookstore, but we're home again now, so I guess our next visit will have to wait till next summer. Let's hope the winter is a little kinder to us all this year, although with water levels on the Lake as they are, docks could be taking quite a beating.

    I hope you are keeping well.



Leave a Comment

Please read my Privacy Policy before commenting/subscribing.