Monday, June 9, 2014

7 Reasons Why I Can NOT Illustrate Your Children's Book

I'm flattered when I'm asked to illustrate someone's personal project - like a children's book. I should have put this in the video but I forgot. It really bugs me when people don't get back to me in an email that I've sent them and I don't want to ignore or give a short "no" to people who email me with requests. I know it takes a lot of emotional effort to reach out and ask for something like this. I made this video to be able to send out as a thoughtful response when people ask me to illustrate their children's book. I hope my answers make sense.


  1. You did a great job of explaining it. I've tried to explain the same thing to people before, but I'm not as articulate as you are. :)

  2. Great post, Will! All valid reasons and very well said, not to mention educational for inexperienced people looking to get into the industry. As an illustrator, I sat here, nodding throughout the whole video. I'm not where you are in my career, and have a ways to go, but have had the same reasoning for some of the projects I've had to turn down. It takes a long time to get where you are, and your reputation is absolutely worth protecting.

  3. Thank you, Will, for answering this touchy question in a kind, respectful and professional manner.

    I've often been approached by someone who is or who knows someone in the process of writing a children's book. Most fancy the idea of being a children's author but, unfortunately, have never taken the time and effort to fully educate themselves on the many aspects of the complex business behind the children's publishing industry.

    When I was a full-time graphic designer, I took it upon myself to help educate my clients about the design process. A simple explanation dispelled a lot of misconceptions and went a long way toward the clients respect for the work I was doing.

    That's really what you did here and it's great that you shared it for the rest of us to use as an example. It not only gives prospective authors insight into the way traditional publishing works but also (and this is my favorite bit) give the perspective from the illustrator's side of the table, as a professional who, no matter the labor of love, still has the requirement to provide for their family.

    Recommending the SCBWI was a great suggestion, too. I've been am active, volunteering member for 9 years, now, and it's provided an invaluable and unequalled education for me on the business of making books for young readers.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Tami T.

    1. Thank you Tami - yes - there's no reason to be rude about it - one thing I forgot to include in the video is the fact that I'm always flattered when someone trusts me with their project. The last thing I want to do is hurt their feelings...


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