D is for Drawing X2

Letter DDrawings, in terms of books, can mean two completely different things:

1. Illustrations

2. Giveaways

Let’s look at why you would want or need either.


Most people consider “drawings” something for a children’s book or a graphic novel. In fact, there are a number of books which benefit greatly from drawings. Consider the broader term, which includes tables, decorations and maps.

When you were first learning to read, the first book with no pictures got slumped shoulders, hang dog look and possibly crocodile-sized tears. Why? Illustrations give us a break and enhance our visual imagination.

For centuries illuminated books were the most sought after because the chapter plates were pieces of art in their own right. Especially in books of poetry, an illustration goes a long way toward setting mood.

Meet right here. Then, turn left...four more blocks.

Does your story line travel a path? Even a map in the prologue or epilogue will give the direction-challenged a better handle on your story.

One of the more novel ideas is to have a illustration announce or warn of a character whose pivotal nature may not be revealed early in the story. Associating characters with illustrations of their professions is an easy way to accomplish this.

Are you guilty of this?


Consider a piece of scrollwork to take the word processor feel out of your piece by giving your reader’s eyes a gentle break.

The Hat

The other type of drawing is the giveaway. Some authors will not give away a book for all the acclaim in the world. Others pass them out like breath mints at a garlic sampling party.

Giveaways generate good karma in a number of ways. They also yield a list of readers who are interested in your book… and possibly subsequent books, provided you deliver a quality product.

Feels Good: Do you like to win? So does most everyone else you have ever met. Your book may be the only thing someone ever wins.

Gathers Interest: Someone who sees your giveaway may not be all that interested in your book. On the other hand, it may be directly up the alley of that person’s BFF. Referrals are great and can lead to reviews.

Creates Buzz: “Have you entered yet?” is the question on people’s lips and fingertips.

Increases Followers: When you are willing to give away your work, readers perceive you in a more approachable light. Those who do not win are willing to see what else you have going on (blog, website, other works) while they read the copy they bought.

Generates Demand: Giveaways which generate many entries show how popular your book is. If 1,500 people entered to win, it should be worth $3.50 as an ebook.

Creates Buyer Base: The entrants have some interest. The non-winning list is a good place to market when you put the book on sale or put out your next title.

The Line

Inevitably, someone is going to go too far. A 92,471 word book is not a good candidate for 137 illustrations… not even small ones. Using drawings to make your book longer increases production costs without delivering a good deal of value, regardless of how good the drawings are.

The first one goes to...

In fact, overdoing it with artwork is a way to price yourself out of the market. Good illustrations can cost you anywhere from $50 (tiny one) to upwards of $500 for a photograph or a detailed custom-designed piece of page-sized, camera ready art.

Same goes for the other type of drawing. Running giveaways too close together will not stimulate sales. In fact, it deters sales. After a drawing, customers will contemplate purchasing the book. If they find out you are giving away another copy before they decide to bite the bullet, even for 99 cents, they will bide their time and play the odds.

Think that’s wrong? How many people play the lottery? There you have it.

Frequent giveaways can devalue your book. Customers think you have to give it away to generate interest, ergo the book must not be all that interesting on its own. Unless you can show customers the value of your book, they will wait for a free copy.


Consider illustrations where they are appropriate. When in doubt, take a survey from your beta team.

Give away copies for big events:

  • 1,000 books sold
  • Anniversary
  • After large media campaign, public interview or book signing

All things in moderation.

Do you have/want illustrations in your book? Have you held a drawing for a free book or ebook? Do you sell or give away autographed copies?

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  1. I think drawings can enhance the appearance of a book however as you have already mentioned it would be wise to keep them to a minimum, though I guess this would depend greatly on what the book was about and whether it merited more illustrations to feed the readers thoughts.

    Sometimes a good cover artwork is enough, especially if the author has a powerful plot that stirs the imagination, or is this just a preference between writers, some favouring artistic elements alongside their words to boost interest, while others will just rely on their characters to provide enthusiasm for reading it.

    Have a wonderful afternoon Red 🙂 🙂 xxx

    • Moderation. It really does rule the day. I have seen a number of books which illustrations would have poisoned the imagination stream by planting too many ideas. However, I am quite pleased with the illustrations for both of Mantra’s books. I hope you have had a lovely weekend. 🙂

  2. I have ..three or five illustrations in my book. One is vital to the Mental Moment it is included in and the others are just there but not invaluable.. they break it up a little and with only a few, well I don’t know what it does but I like the ones I have. I am actually giving away two books – or there is a giveaway running on Goodreads for 2 books started 10 march and ending 9 April and I have to say, it has generated quite a bit of interest.. now after the 9th we will see what it does for sales. I put it on twitter and FB every few days and if it gets stalled and it picks up again..the number of entrants. I autograph if I am asked to…but I haven;t got that far yet..
    Much love
    <3 Lizzie
    Lizzie Cracked recently posted..A-Z Challenge; F is for Feminist Movement Mental MomentMy Profile

  3. Hi Red,
    Loved reading your responses to my previous comments, gave me more to think about.
    I disciplined myself, not to comment on your comments. 😉

    I was thinking of using illustrations but decided not to.
    The decision was based on length of book, context, copyright & purchasing rights etc.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas on the give-away, I think I will incorporate the after 1000 sales idea.

    You’re Blog is holding most of my attention at the moment, very inspiring and encouraging. 🙂
    Phil recently posted..Matrimonial TestimonialsMy Profile

    • Oh, pish tosh, Phil. Around here you know full well you are encouraged to talk back. Many of my posts are still read all the way through the comments. I do not think discovery needs to stop merely because we got out of the body box.

      I am glad you are considering the copyright angle. In fact, too many authors believe if it is on the Internet it is free game. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      And thank you.

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