Yes Bear Publishing

How2 Avoid Common Mistakes When Illustrating Your Own Book

Since my wife and I have self-published so many of our own books—that means we’ve made almost every mistake you can make! Hah!

So I offer here some tips for illustrating your book. Even if you’re hiring an illustrator, consider these ideas in the process. It will save you a ton of headaches down the road!

Where Will the Words Go?

The main thing I have to coordinate with illustrators when we have full page illustrations is where to put the words. Think about that ahead of time. Plan where they’ll go and how the reader will interact with them.

It’s really disturbing—and expensive—to get your illustrations completed but the only place for the text is across the face of your main character! See the illustration below as an example.

Action Normally Moves from Left to Right

Because in English we read from left to right, the action of the story needs to move that way too. For example, if you have two characters talking to each other, put the character who speaks first on the left page and the character who speaks next on the right.

Some of the illustrations I received from an illustrator recently, I purposefully inverted left to right for this exact reason. You’ll see in the example below how the natural flow of the action is left to right.

Bleed and Gutters

One more tip for you is regarding the caution zones around the bleed and gutters. You’ll want to keep main characters out of the quarter inch space around all edges, and also out of the “gutter” between pages. In the final cut of the book, the bleed around the edges may cut that character out or just her foot or arm.

See the example below from my wife’s latest book, Serena the Sailboat Does a Good Deed. The blue around the edges and in the center show the danger areas. You’ll see all the main characters are out of the blue except Danny the dolphin. But his image extends well across the two pages, so this placement is acceptable.

I hope these tips help you avoid costly mistakes in time and money. If I can help in any way, please connect with me.

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1 thought on “How2 Avoid Common Mistakes When Illustrating Your Own Book”

  1. Judy Silvestrone

    Thanks-great info. Did you format your own book? I am nearly five with illustrations and am thinking that I might need to use a professional for formatting, unless I can find software that will make this transparent and easy. Thanks.

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