Although there is a considerable amount of planning and hard work in the book illustrating profession, the outcome and rewards are priceless. Here are some important steps and tips to get you off on the right path
Things You Will NeedCreativity and artistic skills
Good research skills
A portfolio of your art work
Patience and good work ethic
SEARCHING FOR AN OPPORTUNITY: Plan your search strategies. If you know someone in the business of publishing or editing of books, or have a friend that does, contact them to let them know you are interested in seeking the opportunity. If not, like many other aspiring artists you can contact a publishing company by phone or letter, asking for an interview opportunity and chance to present your portfolio. Blog, twitter and/or search google for writers/illustrators forums to participate in. Research sites that offer bidding jobs for illustrators such as SoloGig or Guru.com.
READ DRAFTS: When you find a receptive publishing company or author interested in your services they will possibly give you either one or several options of different books to work with. Thoroughly reading a draft of the story is crucial in understanding the mood and plot of the story, as well as getting to know the characters, their moods and emotions. All of these factors will carry through to your choice of style and/or medium that would best depict the book. You may be lucky enough to have the opportunity do a cover or dust-jacket design.
MEET WITH THE AUTHOR: Arrange a meeting with the author or the author's representative to discuss what they have in mind. You will decide on a number of things including cover, chapter headings, or having them scattered throughout the book. You will also discuss what medium you will be using to create the illustrations and which scenes are most prominent and important. Be prepared to give them a price structure for your work. If you are not sure what to charge, research the Internet to get an idea of the going rates so that you can be competitive.
FINISH YOUR WORK IN A TIMELY MANNER: As you are working on the illustrations, you will want to periodically e-mail progress samples to make sure that your ideas are on "track" according to their expectations. You will want to schedule and plan your time wisely to finish well before deadline dates, in case there are any changes or tweaks that need to be done. Soon enough the book will be on shelves and you'll be considered for the next illustration project when it comes along. Although there is a considerable amount of planning and hard work in the book illustrating profession, the outcome and rewards are priceless.
Tips & Warnings
Have high resolution jpgs of your work available to e-mail upon request
When meeting with the author, be prepared to offer your creative input, in case they are not sure what they are looking for.
Listen very carefully to what the author and his/her staff want in each picture or illustration. Taking notes will be a big help, and definitely ask questions if you are not sure about specifics.
Don't feel bad or be discouraged if the first company shuts you down. Just keep on trying. Chances are that someone out there is looking for exactly what you can do.
When reading the draft, place a post-it on pages that have detailed descriptions or scenes that would be appropriate for a great illustration