One of the joys I had in publishing Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria was in selecting the illustrator for the book. I went through dozens and dozens of artist portfolios and sent off about a dozen emails to see who might be 1) available 2) affordable and 3) appropriate for my book. Given it was my first children's picture book, I was looking for someone who had experience illustrating picture books (no need in BOTH of us being newbies!). I also looked to see if the illustrator had experience in illustrating African Americans - I wanted to see that there were images on their online portfolio.
Most of the responses were polite "no"! Some illustrators did not freelance for individuals, others did not have a time slot open, others were not affordable. Funny, I didn't select one because he sent back just a 3 - 4 paragraph email with his price.... no insights into how he saw the working relationship between us, etc. I remain totally satisfied with working with Canadian illustrator Lee Edward Födi, who had experience as an author and picture book illustrator.
I was reminded of my experience in looking for an illustrator when I stumbled onto Mike Motz's website this morning. I don't know Mike at all, but I would have loved to read through his site since it is instructional in selecting an illustrator for children's picture books. At the time, I spent hours looking at portfolios from the Trafford website (I have no ties to Trafford - just found the links useful). I keep looking for other portfolio sites and reading Don Tate's blog to learn about other illustrators, if you know of any. Enjoy!