I quite often get emails from unpublished children's authors who have seen my books, my website or my blog, and would like to know if I'd be interested in illustrating their book, and what I charge.
I have to tell them that it simply doesn't work like that. So, for anyone out there who has written a book they'd like illustrated, this is how it does work...
The first thing is that, as the author, you don't employ the illustrator: the publisher does. It takes me around 3 months to illustrate a picture book so, if you think about a quarter of a year's salary, you'll see that an author really doesn't want to go there.
But there's no need. The illustrator you pick is in any case very unlikely to be the one the publisher would choose, since they have many more contacts at their finger-tips, as well as a great deal of experience in matching appropriate illustrators to texts.
And the thing is, ultimately they are the boss, since they stump up all the money to get the thing on the road!
It would in any case be madness to do the illustrations before securing a publisher: firstly because, to be brutally honest (and you do need to know the truth, though it's upsetting) the success rate in getting your story accepted is pretty low. Which means no professional illustrator would be interested on spec, and you really wouldn't want to incur any costs before getting your contract signed and sealed.
And don't worry about the illustrator - we will appear by publisher's sorcery, just when you need us!