I've been sent a proposition and have been pulling my hair out for a couple of days deciding what to do. A friend directed me to your website and I knew you'd be the right person to ask!
I am a professional illustrator, although currently unpublished. I've sent in portfolios to publishers and had reasonably positive feedback so far - many of my submissions have been kept on record for future use. However, I've recently been contacted directly by someone looking for an artist to illustrate their poetry (it's fun and quirky in style and I believe I could compliment it well with my art). I'm not quite sure whether they intend to self-publish or submit the "final work" to an actual publishing house...either way, though, I've read time and time again that author/illustrator duos will NOT be accepted by publishers, regardless. Is this always the case? Even if the art is of a very high quality? I'm feeling a little out of my depth as this situation is all new to me and I'm not aware of the standard expectations of the illustrator either through a publishing house or in a self-publishing situation. Any information you can enlighten me with would be very, very welcome!!
If it's going to be self-published, sure, go for it. Be sure you get paid in advance.
If it's for submission to a publisher, DON'T DO IT. Publishers want to choose the illustrator.
Yes, if the art is of very high quality, the publisher may accept something already illustrated. THAT'S NOT YOU. I'm talking about Jerry Pinkney or Kadir Nelson or Marla Frazee or somebody whose art is exemplary and in high demand.
I don't mean to be unkind. The fact that your samples have been put on file means they are better than the average art submission, and you may have a wonderful career ahead of you. It does not mean, however, that your art is of very high quality. You are an unproven artist in a competitive field. Do everything you can to project professionalism-- including not giving your art away. And that's what you would be doing if someone convinced you to illustrate their manuscript on spec. Chances are high that it would be wasted effort.