Did this project just turn out to be a bit more difficult than you thought? No worries, there are ways to get that book illustrated without starving your wallet.
Here are three suggestions on how to make that story come to life:
1. If you’re still determined to self-publish, you may start a fundraiser in order to hire an illustrator, and cover other expenses this publishing will demand.
Fundraisers have a short history of both big failures and unbelievable success stories. What makes or breaks a fundraiser is not always about the product itself, but how you market it. They do not work well unless you can market it properly, but if you want to sell that book eventually, you will need a good marketing strategy anyways, so why not start there?
2. Drop the idea of self publishing, and try to get an established publishing company on board. There are some big downsides here. If a publisher decides to pick up your story, this would mean that you lose a lot of control over it. You will likely be asked to make changes to the script that you worked so hard on perfecting, and while you can request a certain illustrator, the editor and art director will have the last word. This is a bummer, of course. To have your cherished creation taken out of your hands, and see it turn out completely different than you imagined. But on the bright side, those people know what they’re doing. They’ve been publishing children’s books for years, and they know what works and what doesn’t. They pick up your book because they know it will sell, so even though you only get a percentage of those sales, there’s a big chance that’s a lot more than you would make if you were to self-publish, and that it will reach a lot more children. Also, they will be the ones who takes care of paying for the illustrations, printing, marketing etc.
3. Learn how to illustrate it yourself. Yes, really. It will take a lot longer to make that book come to life if you have to learn how to draw first, but it would mean that your book is entirely yours, and it would all be for free! “But I can barely draw a stick figure!” is a standard response for that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn. Drawing is a skill, not a talent. Ok, so talent exists, but it’s rare, and a bit overrated. Most artists don’t have it, they have passion and loads and loads of practicing.
If you’re interested in trying it out, I sometimes put out useful information on my blog, and if you write me a message, I’d be happy to share some tips and tricks with you.