I just wrote a picture book. Will you illustrate it?

I get asked this question a lot by many lovely and well-meaning people. In fact, I’ve answered it so many times that I’ve thought about having a boilerplate answer. Unless your name is Arthur Yorinks or Daniel Pinkwater, here it is:

Dear Friend/Cousin/Hairdresser/Friend’s cousin’s hairdresser,

Thanks for thinking of me to illustrate your manuscript. Unfortunately, I have to reserve all my unpaid time for my own speculative and personal projects.*

You actually don’t need to find your own illustrator, anyway! Children’s book editors prefer to make these matches themselves.**

In short, I will have to say

Warm regards from your friendly neighborhood illustrator,

Liz***

*Entirely true, and a polite way of encompassing some less-polite reasons, including but not limited to:

  • This is your first attempt at a manuscript?
  • Unfortunately, I haven’t read very many good self-published picture books. (I’m looking, though.)
  • Hmm, I don’t think my whimsical style would work so well for your dark historical fiction.

**See what the SCBWIEditorial Anonymous, and Harold Underdown have to say about that.

***Yeah, I have footnotes in my blog posts. That’s just how I roll.

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