#PicturesMeanBusiness -
The Benefits of Crediting Illustrators

A crowd of people with books with caption Everybody wins

© Woodrow Pheonix

We know that Illustration is widely loved, but if illustrators are regularly forgotten in publicity and official listings there are a lot of benefits everyone misses out on.

What are the Benefits?


To have a world where books represent a diverse range of cultures and experiences, you need to have people from all backgrounds creating them. If illustrators find it hard to earn a living, due to lack of recognition, then the majority of top illustrators will be from advantageous backgrounds, those with a second income or supportive family, for example. We risk losing the work from those from other situations – who, for a variety of reasons, already find building a career a struggle, without having to fight for credit as well. 

If we support illustrators equally and fairly, based on their contribution, we provide readers with books from all backgrounds (see #WeNeedDiverseBooks for more information on why this is so important).  If a child discovers a book with illustrations that connect to their identity, it will be easier for them to find more books out there that also resonate with them if they know the name of that illustrator. 

Read more here, about how crediting illustrators build diversity and listen to Dapo Adeola talk about his experience in the industry.


An enriched reader experience

Not everyone arrives at books through words alone, visual literacy develops earlier than the ability to read text. By recognising the work of illustrators, this may be a key element to inspiring a love of books. Regardless of the readers age, illustrations can enhance the experience of a book and help hold the readers attention. The right illustrated cover can set the right mood for the reader before they have even read the first page. Illustration can tie a series together, building a visual brand around the words, create a stronger connection with a character, or fire up a world of imagination. By recognising the illustrator you are giving importance to the skills, and telling readers that if their path to books is a visual one then that is just as valid.

You can give children new heroes – the ways in which illustrations work with text can give them confidence in their own abilities. If they are interested in a book they can follow the writer or the illustrator, or both, to explore new stories. They can create their own stories with words AND pictures, draw their own characters, finding new inspiration in looking at illustrators’ work.

(Visit CLPE for more on the importance of visual literacy) 


Power Up For Writers (Mutual Support)

If you’re a writer, how do you benefit from crediting your illustrator? Well, the credit works for both of you. Your illustrator may have their own fan base that you can tap into by including them in publicity. You may gain twice the audience following your book. If  one of you wins an award, it will raise the other person’s profile. You can feel less alone: you are part of a team championing your book. You can cover more events, literally be in two places at once. Illustrators are perfectly equipped for Internet marketing; the images they make are shareable and recognisable, helping your work to reach further online. Crediting your illustrator makes you look like a thoughtful, gracious person to your readers. Illustrators will take note that you have professional respect for their work and be more inclined to work with you on future projects. 

If you have written a book, chances are you are extremely passionate about books. By crediting your illustrator, you are not losing anything, only gaining, and strengthening the industry as a whole. 


A smarter market

By ensuring an illustrator’s name is included in book data systems you can get more accurate reports about those books. You will be able to track career earnings of writers AND illustrators. If business people can’t easily find out how much money illustrators contribute to the economy, it’s as though they contribute nothing, and that isn’t true.

With accurate data business people can make concrete sales decisions based on how much earning power an illustrator has. Publishers and book sellers will know which illustrators are selling the most books, will see if an particular writer + illustrator combo performs better, and be able to make a better informed business case for which books to produce, stock or simply to feature in a display.


Engaging events 


Writers and publishers gain an extra source of publicity – People LOVE watching illustrators draw at events! The more illustrators are credited the more crowd pull they will have an an event. It gives and extra dimension to book events – people can listen to the stories and watch the characters come to life, maybe joining in learning how to draw the main character.

Teachers have twice the choice for book events at school. Kids can be inspired when they can draw a character and create a visual world around it, and only then do most of them want to seek out words to help the story along. Many children who won’t pick up a novel will happily read a comic. If people are inspired by drawing, why not let them look to illustrators for inspiration? It’s awfully hard for illustrators to impress classrooms of kids with their authorship when their names aren’t even printed on book covers. And it won’t even happen if the teacher only invites writers to visit.

(World Book Day has some tips for organising a writer or illustrator visit)

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