I am looking for feedback on the idea of including pictures in a fantasy story e-book to be sold on Amazon. The book is not a graphic novel as it has over 60,000 words spread across 15 chapters. There is basically 1 or 2 pictures per chapter.

When I talk about the subject of pictures in a book like the one described above I have received some feedback that no pictures should be in such story books. The reasoning I've been told is so each reader can form their own thoughts about what things look like in the story based on story descriptions.

Others have said they like some of the pictures they've seen because it shows them some detail about the world they are reading about.

I guess what I would like to know is whether having pictures in such a story book is acceptable these days or if it is considered a problem. In the problem case, some have said may avoid such books because they don't want preconceived images of what they are reading.

3 Answers 3


Illustrated books for adults are not uncommon. Consider for example the illustrated Lord of the Rings or Stardust. In fact, illustrations might serve as an incentive for fans to buy an extra copy of a book they already own.

Here's something for you to consider, however:

Printing a book costs money. Printing an illustrated book costs more money. Considerably more money if you want coloured illustrations, but there are issues even with black-and-white ones (more paper and ink required, more work has to go into page layout etc.) All this money is an investment put by the publisher, in the expectations that the sales would cover it. If you insist on illustration, you increase this original investment, that is increase the risk a publishing house takes by gambling on you. So, you are effectively reducing your chances of getting published.
If that is not enough, there is the whole e-book market: not all platforms take well to illustrations. Phone apps in particular would sometimes skip over the illustrations, and other times not shrink them properly, so they are too big to see. And then there are the translations, which would have to do the same math all over again.

(If you are self-publishing, the risk is yours rather than a third party's, but the considerations do not change.)

For this reason, illustrated books that are not children's books are always books by already established authors, and often (though not always) special illustrated editions of books that have sold well in the past. In such cases, there is little risk for the publishing house - they can reasonably expect the illustrated book to sell well.

As for preconceived images, if some people state this is a problem for them, then for some potential readers it is a problem. I personally am a collector of illustrated special editions, never had any problem with simultaneously holding my own image of whatever there is in the book, and enjoying someone else's images. Never needed a picture to visualise things. From the different answers you're getting to this issue from different beta readers, you can see it might be a better idea to keep the illustrations for the "special edition". That way, you can keep both the illustration-lovers and the illustration-haters satisfied.


Try to find an illustrator who is very loose and hints at an image rather than one that describes in great detail.

This would give the audience the best of both worlds when being lead on a journey. I am an illustrator and am capable of detailed illustration or a looser style which would guide rather than direct.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you like the idea of this as I am happy to accommodate.


Illustrations can be used in any book. Whether they contribute to your work or distract from it is only for you to decide. Since you are writing fantasy, then I would definitely consider it worth illustrating. I am working with an author right now who started off without even considering illustrations, but once we typeset the first few of his planned books, we immediately came to the same conclusion: the even pages before each chapter which start on an odd page just begged for the illustrations to be put on them. The only problem we now have to solve is to choose the illustration content which would not become a spoiler.

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