• Amanda Clemmer

Illustrations for Ebooks


Ebooks and illustrations don’t typically mix. Even though the technology has been there for a long time, adding illustrations complicates the process. You need to make sure that the illustrations work for every device the book will be read on, you have additional standards to meet, and you need to be sure that your book still holds up in the end.


Usually, illustrations are reserved for picture books and non-fiction titles, where they play an active role in the readers’ experience. However, some fiction books thrive with a few drawings thrown in—especially those relevant doodles near the chapter headings. Illustrations can give your book a unique aesthetic appeal as well as going the extra mile in customization. If your book uses unique visuals (common in fantasy and science fiction), illustrations can be a good way to get reader attention and make your world come to life.

Fortunately, new technology is making illustrations more accessible to writers than before, and there is a variety of tools to help if you want to add them to a novel, or even an ebook novel. There are also new pitfalls and things that can go wrong when you include illustrations, making it a balanced wager. Here are some of the things to look out for:


What to watch for with ebook illustrations:

1. Bad illustrations are worse than no illustrations at all.

Unless you’re a trained artist, you’ll have a hard time getting the pictures in your head onto paper. Most author drawings appear amateurish and rough and can even backfire, causing your book to look less professional even if you’re putting in extra effort. If you can’t do the art yourself, find someone who can pull off the style you’re looking for. Otherwise, ask the question of whether your book really needs illustrations.


2. Black and white is safer than color.

Your phone, computer, and tablet will display your images in full color automatically, but many people read on simpler, black and white e-readers. In that case, a color image might be hard to make out or understand.


3. Read the resolution guidelines.

You might have no problem seeing your illustrations on your computer, but that doesn’t mean they’ll wow readers in the same way. A high-resolution image has a better chance of showing up clearly, while a lower-resolution image will look grainy and cheap.

4. Always review your proof copy.

Reviewing a proof copy before publication is the only sure way you can know if your illustrations work. Take your time to review each image and fix anything that isn’t exactly what you want. Since this is one of the last steps before publication, take your time here and be patient with yourself. It’s fine if it takes several run-throughs to get it right, and the results will be well worth it.

Have you added illustrations to an ebook? Sign up to share your tips in the comment section below. You can also click on the blue button to join my group for self-publishing fiction writers on Facebook.


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