The Question of Illustrations – Publishing a Book Series

When it came to the poetry trilogy, each book had an illustrator. One was a friend and two I found while searching for someone to hire. I loved working with such talented artists and they added so much to the books but since this book stands on its own, I called everything into question including the illustrations. As I saw it, there were a few ways I could go with benefits and drawbacks to each option:

  •  Hire an illustrator and have them draw pictures to go with my words. (What I did for the first three.) The benefit to this is the artistry that such illustrations add. The drawback is the cost and the additional time and effort communicating back and forth with an illustrator entails.
  • Use my own photography throughout the book. The benefit is I get to share one of my favorite hobbies along with my writing. Using my own work is also free and I have full rights to it. The drawback is trying to match photographs with poems. Having an illustrator draw whatever was needed was easier.
  • Use the photography of one of my friends. I have several friends who are brilliant artists with a camera and I’m sure I could negotiate the cost and rights to use their pictures. This would involve someone else in the project, though, and would take quite a bit of time.
  • Use my own drawings. This is the riskiest option as I’ve only taken a community drawing class and am planning to repeat it. While I love drawing, I’m nowhere near the level of a professional artist though the drawings could be fun to create and share. I also would have full rights to them at no cost.
  • Let the words stand by themselves with no illustrations. Most poetry books use this option. It’s free, no hassle, and the words speak for themselves. However, it can lack that visual artistic touch.

In addition to the benefits and drawbacks of the various options, there are also other factors to take into account. I’ve been thinking of using cream colored paper for this book. If I do, that might not work for photographic light and colors. I also have a drawing from the class I took which I would love to use in the next book because it illustrates one of the poems.

With these considerations in mind, I talked it over with a friend I was visiting and she suggested I let the words stand on their own with no illustrations. She liked it when readers could take the words anywhere with no limitations whatsoever. However, being another budding artist herself, she also suggested I draw images just for the beginning of the sections. If I stuck with pencil as my medium, it would keep that softer look I’m going for. I really like this idea. It only involves five drawings if I keep to five sections, one of which is done, and it lets me share a new-found love.

If this choice goes well, drawing the five pictures myself will be a huge joke on me. When I started taking my drawing classes, people asked if I was going to start illustrating my own books and I insisted I was not. The class was just for fun. Just for me. Apparently there were other plans afoot. Even before making this decision, I was planning on retaking the class because I loved it so much. It’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to right now. I’m hoping my teacher (same one as I had before) will be willing to help me with the drawings and give me tips on improving them. I think it will be a fun process. It also speaks to the question I had last year: “How can I illustrate spiritual truths in a drawing?” Drawing the next four for this book will be my answer.

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