“What do illustrators need to know before starting work for an author?”

“What do illustrators need to know before starting work for an author?”

Q –

Hi Angela,

I currently have an illustrator designing illustrations for my newest book which is a children’s poem/story. Do the illustrations have to be in a specific format for publishing? He is a fantastic artist! Fees will run me $90/hour so I want to get it right the first time.


A –

This is an excellent question! I can’t count how many times I have received illustrations for a book that can’t be used in the book.

First, if the illustrations are being done manually, they need to be on the absolutely whitest paper so there won’t be any shadows in the background when they are scanned. The paper must also be completely flat because wrinkles will show up in the scan as well. Erasure marks will also show up. For all of these reasons, digital illustrations are often preferred. Also, the scans must be at 300 dpi.

Second, they need to be the correct size for the book size you are publishing, with some bleed (I recommend 1/4″ all the way around). Don’t have anything important in the bleed area. For example, if the character is holding out his/her hand, and if you don’t want fingers getting sliced off during the trimming process, don’t have that hand anywhere near the bleed. Just include the background of the image in the bleed.

Third, if digital, the illustrations need to be created at 300 dpi. Most publishers will require they be in CMYK. Your illustrator will know what that means. If they don’t, use a different illustrator.


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