Like to Write and Illustrate Your Own Books?

Today, my talented friend, Tania McCartney is visiting Writing Classes For Kids to talk about writing and illustrating your own books.

She has some fabulous information to share, and at the end of this post there’s a link to some great prizes including copies of the book.

Over to you Tania 🙂

image018Writing and Illustrating Your Own Books with Tania McCartney

Do you know what an author who also illustrates (or an illustrator who also writes) is called? When I visit schools, I often ask kids this question. My favourite response so far was when someone said:


I loved that! In truth, they are simply called ‘Author Illustrator’ but I much prefer Authorstrator, and I’m so stealing it.

Most times, on the cover of a picture book, you will notice two names … the author, who, of course, pens the story—and the illustrator, who creates all the pictures. Sometimes, though, you might only see one name, and that’s because both the words and the pictures have been done by the same person.

An Authorstrator. 😉

Sometimes, it’s easier to be an Authorstrator. Publishers and editors only have to deal with one person. There’s no arguments about how pictures should look or how words should sound. The images and the text tie together really well, as the Authorstrator already knows how the pictures will complement the words.00a-cover-pastel

Even for authors who don’t illustrate, they can still ‘see’ in their mind how the pictures might look—and sometimes an illustrator may not be able to make that vision come true. So authors who illustrate have a lot more control—they can dictate how things will look.

But of course, being an Authorstrator is double the work! And it can be lonely. Really lonely.

On the other hand, when TWO people create a book together… two heads are often better than one. With my books, my illustrators bring such magic and new ideas to my text. I really value and appreciate their thoughts and cleverness. They always add wonderful things to the story—and they even see things I never imagined myself. I’ve never been disappointed!au-diverse-kid-girl-japanese

Working together is also lots of fun—having someone to bounce ideas around with, and enjoying the fabulous process of creating something together. It’s also a lot less work! But you do lose some control, and sometimes you may not agree on what’s been written or illustrated.

I’ve only been an Authorstrator once so far. My new book, Australia Illustrated, took me an entire year to write and draw—and this was almost full-time. I drew over 1,000 individual images to create the book—can you believe that? And it was a LOT of hard work.

act-arboretum-boy-3I was very lucky in that I could pretty much create what I liked—and this is not always the way! Oftentimes, an editor or publisher will want to guide you, and that’s okay, too.

Because this was my very first Authorstrator experience, being able to create Australia Illustrated the way I wanted really helped me succeed. I had no idea how I was going to do it all—I just learned as I went along. And do you know what? The very BEST way to learn is with experience. So yes, I was very, very lucky.

Authorstators might sometimes do the typography, layout and design, too. Typography is the setting of the text on the page. You may notice that this text is placed on a blank space so it’s easy to read. The illustrator, of course, must plan space for the text when they first do their drawings.034-vic-mel-icons

Layout and design is how the pages and cover end up looking. It’s how the images are laid out on the page, how they fit around the text, and how the covers (front and back), endpapers and spine look. I’ve done this for several of my books and I absolutely love it.

So, there you go—you’ve officially met the Authorstrator. The Jack- or Jill-of-All-Trades who can take words and pictures and make them into story. Hopefully stories you’ll be enjoying very soon.


027-nsw-sydney-ferriesSee more of Tania’s work at or follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @taniamccartney

Australia Illustrated is published by EK Books and will be on sale 1 November in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, with a release date of 28 November in the UK. Hardcover, clothbound, 96 pages, AU$29.99, ISBN: 9781925335217


  • WIN a copy of the book (There three to give away, thanks to EK Books)
  • WIN an original watercolour image from the book (two to give away)
  • the chance to name some of Tania’s book characters!

Enter here at Tania’s Blog






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