Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tips for Finding or Working with an Illustrator By Maryann B. Sawka, Author of Good Table Manners Made Easy

Imagine a picture book without pictures.  Or imagine a picture book with pictures that are not the right pictures.  Imagine that the story of the book is conveying one message while the illustrations are sending a different message.  Illustrations are just as important to a book as the text that tells the story.  Illustrations bring a story to life.  When we read a book without illustrations, we picture the story coming to life in our imagination, using our own mental illustrations.

In addition to writing a book, the author is challenged to search for an illustrator who will bring the book to life.  The relationship between an author and an illustrator is paramount in the book publishing process. But, before you can build a successful working relationship, you have to find an illustrator to come on board with your project. 

During the writing process, many authors work in their minds where they practice different passages of text and dialogue, test scenes and scenarios, all while they are envisioning the illustrations that will support their story.  The author has to consider the intended audience of the book when choosing an illustrative style.  If the book is to be published as a children’s book, it will most likely contain illustrations that are bright, bold, vivid, bringing the child into the story from the onset.  If the book has been written for an older audience, perhaps softer illustrations would do a better job of delivering the book’s message. 

These are the details that the author includes in a manuscript during the publishing process.  They are often referred to as the “illustrator notes.”  These notes serve as a guide from which an illustrator works when producing the images that support the content of a book. 

When I was at the illustrative step during the publication of my book, “Good Table Manners Made Easy,” my publisher offered the work of several illustrators for me to review, looking for the best match to capture my book.  In order to choose the right illustrator for my book, I reviewed their sample works of art repeatedly, trying to envision my words working with each illustrator’s images.  It was fortunate that my publisher was able to offer multiple options of which illustrator would work on my book. 

Since I had been envisioning these illustrations for quite a long time, the process was not as laborious as it might have been, though making a decision that holds so much power was daunting.  What if we started the process and we didn’t have the same ideas? What if I wasn’t able to convey my thoughts and ideas clear enough to be translated into working images for my book?  These, as well as many other thoughts troubled me until I received the first sketches from Amy Rottinger, my illustrator on “Good Table Manners Made Easy.”

My hope for the illustrations was to have the illustrations tell a story, even though my book is non-fiction and more process-oriented rather than story-oriented.  The illustrations were to support each table manners process that was being described in the passages of text.  I wanted the cover illustration to set the stage for the story that would unfold inside the book.  The “characters” on the cover of the book would be featured throughout the book so that there was a cohesive flow, recognizable by the reader.  Ms. Rottinger brilliantly transferred my ideas into illustrations that began as simple shape sketches, moving into sketches with more detail that quickly became pencil figures that developed into full-color illustrations that suggested life and movement, bringing my book to life.

 About the author: Maryann B. Sawka is an educator and parent, who has always embraced the notion that good manners are stylish and timely in every situation. She founded Charming Manners, a training company that educates all ages in the quest for civility and self-confidence. Sawka introduces good manners with a fun, engaging approach that makes the pursuit for knowledge an enjoyable experience.

Good Table Manners Made Easy is a quick, easy-to-read resource that teaches basic table manners in a delightful fun way. It also serves as a quick refresher for the table manners that we may have forgotten.

Get a sneak peek of the book at 

You can find out more about Maryann B. Sawka’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Sawka and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. 

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