Can a professional children’s book illustrator help an indie author sell books?

By Dayne Sislen

The cover of your book is the first thing buyers see. From this first impression, they will judge the quality of your writing. This isn’t fair but it’s a fact.

We all know the old phrase, ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover.’ Is it true? The big publishers believe covers sell books. They spend mega marketing dollars testing out covers for their big-name authors. Will a red background sell better than a yellow background? Should the main image be a close-up of the main character or show the character at a distance with a background added?

As an indie/self-publishing author, you probably don’t have the funds or the ability to test market different covers. But ask any author who had a poorly selling book with a bargain basement cover about the turn around in sales when they finally hire a professional cover designer to design and illustrate a new an improved cover. The results are amazing.

Your picture book cover will either make or break your book sales.

You’ve spent many months if not years working on your book. Rewriting it over and over until every word is perfect. But customers will not buy your perfectly written book if they do not find the cover appealing. I can’t stress how important a book cover is to sales and promotion of a book.

Most books are purchased in bookstores and online. The only way a customer can choose a book is by looking at the cover and reading the limited text on the back cover. When you promote your book, what will customers see first? That’s right, it’s the cover. A book cover is not the place to save money. Using an unskilled illustrator or designer on the cover will doom your book no matter how skillfully it is written. I have not read the bad example books shown below. I’m sure the writing is much better than the cover is leading customers to believe.

Worst covers4-18

  1. Customers will not purchase a book online with a bad or unreadable book cover.
  2.  Reviewers will not consent to review a book with a bad book cover.
  3.  Bookstores will not take you seriously. Forget about being asked to do a book signing.
  4.  Libraries will not want your book on their shelves.
  5.  You will be at a disadvantage when attending author events.
  6.  Magazine editors will say no to featuring your book on their pages.
  7.  You will not even have success by hiring a publicist. Even they can’t overcome the problem of a bad book cover.

What is the difference?

  1. Professional book covers are easier to read at a reduced size because the title is designed by a graphic designer.
  2. They look professional because they are designed by someone who is trained to work with illustration and text.
  3. Magazines and newspapers love to review them and show them on their pages.
  4.  Customers in bookstores snatch them up.
  5.  Reviewers are can’t wait to review them.
  6.  Amazon shoppers are attracted to them and pop them into their shopping cart.
  7.  Marketing these professionally designed and illustrated books is easier because the cover sells the book.

Which type of cover do you want for your book?

When I illustrate a picture book for an author, I usually design and illustrate not only the cover but every page in the book. That way you know you will not lose your young picture book reader halfway through your book. Each page is designed around your text. Below are a few of the picture book covers I have designed for self-publishing authors.

There's a Mouse on My Head

A Picture book I illustrated for Donna Warwick

Don't Be a Pig in a Panic!

A Picture book I illustrated for Leila Leidke

SPECIAL NOTE:  The above information is for self-publishing or indie authors. If you are thinking about submitting to one of the top 10 traditional publishers and their imprints, you do NOT need to submit your manuscript with illustrations.  The traditional publisher will choose an illustrator for you. They will provide the illustrations and pay for them, but you probably will not have any control over the process. Showing a traditional publisher your manuscript with illustrations may hurt your chances of being traditionally published. I love to work directly with publishers and art directors of these large publishers, but they are the ones who control this process and hire the illustrators.

Best of luck with your publishing journey. Contact me for a bid on illustrating your manuscript if you are interested. I also help self-publishing authors navigate the treacherous waters when searching for a reputable printer and how to avoid predatory publishers.

 

Children are the building blocks of the human race.

Children’s Books Are My Life. I read them, I study them, I illustrate them and I write them. You might ask how children’s books can capture this much of my time and energy? Children’s books are important to me and they should be to you also. 

There's a Mouse on My Head Children's Picture Book

There's a Mouse on My Head

Picture book I illustrated for Donna Warwick

Children are the building blocks of the human race.

Educating our children to guide them to become the future leaders, innovators, and educators of our world is one of the most important things we can do.  Children’s books help young humans form their early outlook on life, their opinions, and values. Children’s books expand a child’s world beyond the four walls of their home. They prepare a child for a life of learning and interaction with other children. They help children become open-minded, educated and responsible adults.

Quiet reading time or taking a child to the library or a favorite bookstore should be a treat. It’s important to foster an early positive love of books and the wonderful world held between their covers. Books should hold a precious place in every home. Our children are our future, we need to make sure they have the best education, wide experiences and open minds to become our next generation of adults.

My love of books has turned into my career. I have always been a creative thinker and a creator. I love the rhythm of words and the look and smell of them on the printed page. I love to take a complicated problem and make it easy to understand with a few simple illustrations and words. My background in graphic design and art direction in the world of advertising gives me an advantage in illustrating and designing children’s books.

 

Don't be a Pig in a Panic! by Leila Leidke

Don't Be a Pig in a Panic!

Picture book I illustrated for Leila Leidke

I love working with publishers and authors to develop characters and bring stories to life. I use my skills in art direction, graphic design, and problem-solving together with my children’s book illustrations to help authors develop their characters and design their book covers. I design and incorporate the text into the page illustrations for beautiful spreads. For self-publishing authors, I can create the whole package, working directly with your printer, publisher or POD company, so you get the best results possible.

Visit my website portfolio:www.behance.net/DayneSislenDesign or my website for more information:www.daynesislendesign.com or email me directly:

 Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the playground to get inspired…

 

6 ways a professional children’s book illustrator can help self-publishing authors

Whiff_dragon_420Having a professional children’s book illustrator create custom illustrations for your self-published children’s book can help your book compete with traditionally published books. I love to help authors bring their words alive on the page with illustrations.

How can a professional illustrator make so much difference?

1. Books are judged by their covers. It’s a fact. In a bookstore or on an Internet site like Amazon, the only thing a buyer sees is your cover. There are thousands of books that your book is competing against for buyers. It’s important to present your book professionally. Having an inexperienced illustrator illustrate your book makes your book look amateurish. That’s not the image you want to project.

Book covers are very important!
Never ever let the image that sells you book look amateurish or lackluster. In many cases the cover is all a customer sees before deciding to purchase your book. Your cover image and typography are what customers use to judge the value of your book.

Below is a list  of the main points for a cover:

  • Be eye-catching
  • Look professional
  • Be easy to read
  • Communicate the message of the book correctly
  • Work well at a small size for Internet sales, catalogs and e-books
  • Fit-in, or stand out in a positive way in the marketplace for the specific genre

The perfect book cover design should hit the mark on all these points. Do people really judge a book by its cover? You bet they do.

2. A professional Children’s book illustrator will actually read your book ( yes, we do) and help decide which pages need illustrations.  Authors, are sometimes too close to their stories to make  the best choice about what parts of the story need illustrations. Professional illustrators have the experience to help the author decide where page breaks and illustrations work best to best move the story forward and create suspense.

3. A professional illustrator with work one-on-one with you to develop character studies for all the unique characters in your book. Generic stock characters you can buy online are unworthy of all the hard work you did to write your original story.

4. A professional Illustrator knows about file types, resolution, bleed and sizes necessary to make sure your illustrations look great in your book.

5. A professional children’s book illustrator will make sure you have the correct size images  for cover image marketing views on Amazon and any additional promotional materials you may need. An illustrator who also has design experience like I do, can also design posters, bookmarks, business cards and other publicity and marketing materials to match your book’s brand.

6. Most importantly, a professional illustrator will work with your printer to make sure your book looks the best possible when printed. Each printer has their own specifications to ensure quality reproduction.

Read the other pages on this blog to learn how we can work together to create the best-illustrated book possible for your story. I also have an illustrator’s website with a lot more information and a portfolio site on Behance

I would be happy to assist you with your book. I love to develop unique characters and fun backgrounds to fit each story. I work very closely with authors to make sure their voice is heard. To contact me, use the form below.