Sunday, October 22, 2017

Should I Illustrate My Book Of Poems?

I like to draw and paint so friends know me as an artist and I wonder if I should illustrate my book of poems. Will it enhance my book or subtract from it?

My first thought is that poets who illustrate their own work are seen as amateur and juvenile. It is the kind of thing that a kid in middle school does.

When someone opens a book of poetry and it is only words then they must focus on the words; illustrations can be a distraction and alter the reader's interpretation of the poem unless the statement of the poem is so clear that it begs its own point.

If the illustrations are poor quality or badly done then the effect will prevent the reader from appreciating the writing.

In the world of self-publishing poetry, there are mountains of books published every year so the challenge is to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps tasteful and quality artwork can give the book a broader appeal.

When you see a book of illustrated poetry you think it is a gift volume, the kind that is in the gift card aisle of the grocery store or sold at craft shows and indi-book-conventions.

In this modern world niche is everything. It is how you market and where you find your identity, so maybe illustrating the collection might give me a place in a nitch.

I have about 85 poems in the collection. To create passable illustrations would take about ten hours each, which would mean working full time for two months.  Instead, I could design a few and cycle them over and over throughout the book, or do something generic and put the same one on each page and then only need to create a few.

If I do illustrate it, even in part, then I am afraid that it will push back the release and publication even more.

Since I envision my book as something that people would give to friends who are feeling down I think it would be best to enhance the gift book nature of it. That means I will probably draw some illustrations.

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(c) Adron 10/12/17


  1. Hi Adron, a hard question to answer without seeing the poems and knowing you better but perhaps if you put only a few illustrations in it would actually help the reader to get more of a feel for you the person behind the thoughts in the poems. An illustration now and again through the book would be enough and not look amateurish as was one of your concerns.

    1. Thank You, Sandra. Good to hear from you.
      I did not think about the personal aspect, you make a good case. I am leaning toward including some illustrations.
      Ill keep you updated.