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How much does it cost to hire a children’s book illustrator?

As a self-published author it is fundamentally important that you hire the correct children’s book illustrator to meet your specific needs. You want to find an illustrator whose illustrations encapsulate your narrative, and professionally showcase your work. Children are highly visual beings, so you should aim for your accompanying illustrations to be lively, colourful, and accessible. There are numerous options available for those seeking to source the appropriate illustrator to promote their work. In the traditional publishing industry illustrators are usually acquired by the publishing house, and the publishing house would offer them an advance, which is a form of payment that is paid off once the book begins to sell. Once this advance is paid off the illustrator splits the remainder of the royalties with the author.

However, self-published authors can choose a professional illustration studio, an illustration agency, or a freelance illustrator. Once the illustrator is chosen they are typically paid a flat rate and royalties are not involved in this kind of work for hire arrangement. Some illustrators / designers use hourly rates, others charge per an illustration project.

Prices vary in accordance with numerous specific factors such as the book design, the preferred timeline imposed, and the experience of the illustrator at hand. As a self-published author you can expect to pay between 1000 and 10,000 pounds when hiring an illustrator to work on the average 32-page Children’s book. Inexperienced illustrators tend to cost a little less, with the average price starting at approximately 500 pounds. Similarly in EU Countries you can expect to pay between 1200- 10,000 Euro to illustrate your children’s book. In the United States the average price list for illustrations is similar, and usually ranges between 2000- 12,000 Dollars, averaging at 120 dollars for a Single illustration. The price range is broad due to the numerous factors that influence the production process. I have outlined some of the main criteria to consider below when setting the budget for your future book.

1. Quantify your page count / specify your book details.

If your manuscript is complete, and ready for the illustration you should review the final version to ascertain the quantity of illustrations that will need to be produced. You should ask yourself some questions such as..

1. What size will the print book be?

2. Where do you wish to publish your work? KDP? Ingram Spark? LULU?

3. Which format do you wish to publish on Hardback? Paperback? E-book?

4. How many pages of illustrations will be required for the project?

The estimate doesn’t have to be completely accurate estimate, but a rough page range for coverage should be provided to your illustrator. A simple sentence such as ‘my estimated page range is 32 pages’ should assist your illustrator with providing you with an accurate quote and will help you to ascertain the exact cost of the project at hand.

2. Showcase appropriate items from the portfolio

As an illustrator you should highlight aspects of the work in your portfolio that you feel accurately reflect the narrative of the novel you wish to work on. Similarly, authors should choose selected pieces that reflect the stylistic method they wish for illustrators to deploy. Certain stylistic preferences may take an illustrator longer to produce. The additional time that will be required may affect the overall quote charged, hence it is important to discuss stylistic preferences prior to engaging in a project.

3. Take note of Revisions / amendments that need to be made

Most published works require some tweaking. Remember that revisions and amendments to work take time and cost money. It is best for Authors to be clear and concise regarding requested revisions, and keep them to a minimum, to avoid financial loss and time wasting.

4. Relevant criteria for review

As a self-published author it is important to ask yourself some questions, to make sure that you are selecting the correct candidate for your project. Questions you should ask yourself should include..

1. Has the illustrator published a book before? If the illustrator has not published work in the industry before they may require additional mentoring / instructions.

2. What tools does the illustrator primarily use? The selected candidate should be familiar with most of the relevant tools required for the role.

3. Can the illustrator format your manuscript? The illustrator you choose should be comfortable formatting manuscripts.

4. Does the illustrator’s overall portfolio cater for children? It may be preferable to select an illustrator with a wealth of experience in this area.

5. Is the candidate in question an artist or an illustrator? Artists with no illustrative experience may take longer to produce the required work to the specific requirements set down.

As well as asking the above questions, you can review potential candidates online by reading reviews / perusing social media accounts and online portfolios.

5. Time management / deadlines

If the deadline is impending and the project needs to be completed on an urgent basis this factor needs to be communicated. Both full time / freelance illustrators may be juggling numerous clients and projects, so it is best to outline the deadline for completion in advance of the production of work. The average timeline for completion of an illustration project can range between 3 – 6 months and above. Projects with fast impending deadlines may cost additional money.


Overall, we can conclude from this that the price range one can expect to pay for a certain illustrator is dependant on numerous factors such as the timeline of the project, the size and format of the book, and stylistic preferences. It is always best from the outset to have an open conversation outlining expectations, to ensure both parties are on the same page in any given transaction.


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