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I Love My Mummies is now available on Amazon!And should you trust a new illustrator?

Shamima Khatun’s “I Love My Mummies” is now on Amazon for £7

A story of a young girl Mia, her two mums and dog Ella.

This is a beautiful story of family, fun and love.

I loved the character Mia so much, she is such a bundle of energy and a burst of sunshine.

After the darker tones of my own books, it is a joy to have such a colourful, happy pace to a story.

Shamima is so hard-working, writing while herself being a student and single mum. (Girl boss!) and it is a pleasure to work with her. Can get the book

This time around, due to more experience I was able to really focus more on the illustrations and narrative.

But, it wasn’t always that way…

The story of my very first "illustration job" (A Tale of Caution)

I had almost forgotten this “first” experience until the other day, maybe the trauma had wiped this from my memory. WAY… Before I started my illustration journey, back when I was an artist doing commissions, painting jute bags and face painting. (may have even been pre-kids!)

Back when my “dream job” would have been to illustrate a book and no idea where to get started. I got so excited when someone reached out to illustrate their book and I jumped at the chance. I was so happy about this that I quoted a very low cost per page (inhumanely low).

I was new to this, the author was new to this. We agreed on a page-by-page format, with no contract in place, or what was truly expected of each other and no serious time management.

Needless to say, this was a recipe for disaster.

At first, it worked well and I designed the cover design, but I realised needed a flat plan (put a lot into that draft), First illustrations were done and liked, I started to realise I was expected to format it as a book, so I started to learn that and needed more information to do so, and that was the start of it falling apart and the project fizzled out.

For the longest time, I blamed myself, I realised now it was two very inexperienced people trying to bring a book alive…

This put me off illustrating books. When I started my degree, I ignored picture book illustrations because of the following reasons.

1. The past experience.

2. Seems everyone wants to illustrate picture books.

3. I no longer believed in the dream.

It became clear it is where my heart is, I love stories. It is the way I learned to communicate with the world.

So when I illustrated my first edition of Voice, this wasn’t just healing in the sense of sharing my story, it was the moment I started to open up a door to book illustration I closed a long time ago. It is funny how things work out, voice was an assignment about “making a book” not “really” about picture book illustrations.

Voice over time has become something more, so, that is the reason I am working on the second edition.

I shared my assignment version of Voice with some Facebook groups and Shimina Khatun reached out as she liked my style and had a project she wanted to work with me on. I was a little torn as I was still learning and my creative voice was starting to grow. Shimina’s story was emotional and it felt like her “voice” so I said yes!

I worked hard this time on creating the emotions in the work and telling her story in the same way I did the first edition of Voice. This is what I class as my first book with a self-published author.

Fast forward a year, I had done AOI mentorship and under Caroline's Guidance, I had learnt a lot more about illustrating book, done more project-based assignments and in the final year of my BA (hon) illustration degree. I was now in a much stronger position to illustrate and format books.

It was a joy to be able to illustrate the second book for Shamima.

So my advice, is YES, new illustrators are nothing to shy away from.

However, you both need to know what is expected, have a contract in place and understand the progress.

Working with an illustrator in 10 steps.

1. Have the book edited and formatted

2. Find the right illustrator (Check portfolio etc)

3. Let the illustrator read the manuscript.

4. Negotiations (Time frame / what is included / payment)

5. Draft up a contract

6. Ensure all information (such as book format/size/page count/blurb)

7. Check book draft /flat plan/character design. - Sign off

8. Finish illustrations.

9. Book formatting - This is laying the book out / adding text/bleeds/margins - This is an extra for illustrators. It is worth checking if your illustrator can do this, otherwise worth hiring a book formatter.

10. Ready to publish.

This really is just a basic what to expect of each other step by step, there is more to each stage and process…

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