Becky Stout – Illustrator

What is your specialism within book publishing? 

Illustration and book design.


Can you describe what you do in 10 words or fewer?

Create illustrations styled to suit the manuscript / demographic / genre.


What led you to go freelance? 

When I was finally able to return to work after 6 years of ill-health absence, I put my work out there and began taking on small projects. People were approaching me, so the business just kind of fell into place. I learnt from those early experiences and feedback, experimented more with my style, started to learn the business and marketing stuff, started up on social media, worked out my niche and my target audience. And here I am!


Do you work primarily for publishing companies or independent authors or a mix? 

A mix. I work with independent publishers, self published authors, and business owners (the latter for branding and advertising illustrations).

Now I've developed a large portfolio and have proven the appeal of my work, I intend to approach larger publishers / agents, whilst continuing to work in the self-publishing and marketing world.


What’s the best part of doing what you do?

I love the variation of the work. Some recent projects have included: squirrels, fairies, pumpkin-head people, dragons, cows, unicorns, little girls, space scenes, plants, aliens, and still-life (a bottle of beer and a steak and ale pie for example).

I love that the people I work with are so close to their projects, they get excited and animated. It's contagious!

I also love that I can work my own hours, under my own rules. This is critical as I need to work flexible hours. 


What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your freelance journey? 

The business stuff. How to use social media (I'm still learning that one). The processes I've picked up along the way that make projects work smoothly and quickly.


How many books are in your TBR (to be read) pile/list? And do you plan to read them all eventually? 

Hmmm.... I stopped reading for ages because I just couldn't concentrate for long enough. I'd read a bit and then get distracted with an idea. I just couldn't get into books as much as I used to.

I have about 3 shelves of a book case worth of horror, chick-lit (hate that word), fantasy, sci-fi and children's books that I haven't read yet. Brian Selznick's Wonder Struck has been sat on the arm of the chair for 2 weeks, and I've been meaning to reread the entire Discworld series again (I bet I'll get the jokes a lot more than when I was a teenager).


Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?

Physical books. I love the smell of paper, the weight of the pages in your hands. They're so tactile. Although I do read a lot of manga and web comics online, too.


Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in publishing? 

Learn the business side of things as quickly as possible. A mentor/coach helps, as does collaborating. Take marketing seriously. There's no point having a great book if no one knows it's there. Don't take rejection to heart. Publishing is a very subjective industry. What one person hates, another person will love. 

Probably the most important thing - perseverance and determination. Gather a network of people who can support you. I'd be lost without my husband and business partner, Ben, and my family. They keep me grounded.


What is your favourite children’s book and your favourite adult’s book? 

That's really hard. As an illustrator, I love Guess How Much I love You (Anita Jeram is awesome); though for nostalgia's sake,  The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe I grew up with an old yellowing copy with floppy, dog-eared pages. It had a big effect on me.

Adult book: Maybe American Gods. I've read it about 4 times (well before the tv series). So surreal. (still in development, though you can find a portfolio on there).

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