I've run into an issue with illustrations and cover designs. I have a member of my family who designs covers to the novels I'm writing, and a friend in Alaska that I'd like to have illustrate a children's picture book for me. Does this level of management and customization doom me to only being able to self publish?

I've wondered what is the most appropriate method for informing a potential publisher or agent that I have a cover already, should I state it in my query? or wait until my work gets accepted and then spring it on them? I don't want to hurt my chances, but I feel like its something important to let the publisher know.

2 Answers 2


If it's a book for younger children, the pictures are an important part of the package. You'll have a better chance submitting pictures and story than story alone.

For an adult book, having a cover is not a big selling point, and I wouldn't suggest including the cover in your submission to a publisher unless it's something so perfect for your book it will knock their socks off. The cover and title are important elements in selling a book to the public, and publishers usually like to have tight control over them.

  • You might submit a sketch of the cover as a “cover idea” or “working cover.” Feb 10, 2016 at 18:28
  • @SimonWhite: That could be a good idea. Publishers who rigidly follow branding and style guidelines for their covers might be concerned about an author who seemed likely to bristle at any changes to his precious artwork, but if the author has an idea of what he wants readers to think some character, creature, machine, etc. looks like, allowing the author to present that idea visually--even if the style of the artwork gets tweaked to match the publisher's other works--may be better than having the publisher's artist guess at the author's intentions.
    – supercat
    Mar 8, 2020 at 17:59

If you have possible cover designs lined up and you have sample illustrations, it seems to me that you are in a much stronger position than someone who has neither. Send both to an agent. If he/she thinks your story is great but either of the other aren't this will be pointed out. However, if the cover or the illustrations look good, and the story is good, a publisher will want to save work by employing someone in situ.

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