Is it more profitable to write books or illustrate books?
What are you good in ? Writing or illustrating, or both ? Then do both ! How many hours of work are you going to put in ? What’s your hourly rate ? What amount of income do you want or need ? Profitable is the balance between costs and revenues, efforts and sheer joy.
It all adds up to the calculation.
It depends on how you can make the deal.
If the book sells well and you (as the writer or illustrator) earn a fair share in royalties, then you’re in good luck.
If the book sells lousy, then that’s too bad for you.
Or you can work for a flat fee, or a non-recoupable advance on royalties, and mind more or less about how the book sells.
So it’s all up to you and the negotiations.
If you don't have any confidence in the project but can ask for a flat fee, then take the money and run.
If you think it’s going to be a hit, then get any (share in) the percentage of royalties you can get and hope for the best.
And beware: there are no “standard contracts”.
Read and understand what your proposed contract states.
If it’s too complicated, then ask for explanations.
If the explanations sound very different from what it reads (and it often does, strangely enough), then demand to write down the contract based on what’s being said.
I believe that decisions based on writing or drawing for profit will not yield the results desired for making a story profitable or memorable.
Reason being— the first and only goal can not be to do what is profitable, because it will not be enough to carry you though the muck of creating a story.
Why? It’s a lot of work— and often work that is not recognized, that is- until is recognized— but that takes time.
Creaking stories is extremely difficult, but very doable if you enjoy it, and put in the time to make something great.
This is the key.
Having an intention about what it is you are creating.
If it’s money, I’m sorry to say, it wont be enough to push you through the late nights.
You must have that why factor.
This factor will motivate you to wake up early and write or draw.
It will entice you to stay up late even though it was a long day.
The why factor will make you excited about what you are doing.
Money simply can’t do that.
It gets old— quick.
But, having a why, a bigger purpose, a mission, that will help you push through anything.
So think about what your intention is, and start your mission.
Figure out when you would like your project to be complete, reverse engineer a timeline to complete it.
Write down your goals, years- months- weeks- days.
Having an actionable plan will create momentum for you.
Once you have momentum, things start to fall into place.
You create more, people see more, people reach out, you finish, someone likes it, it leads to another connection, or job.
Maybe a book deal or film? The important thing to focus on is not how to make money, it’s how to I create and complete.
I seriously wish I could underline that last part.
So what is more profitable? Writing or drawing? The answer is both and neither.
It truly is determined by you, and why you are creating in the first place.
If you are on a mission to make something because you feel the world needs what you are making.
Then, there is your profit.
You will be fulfilled creating, and more so when you complete.
The money will come, focus on creating and why you are doing it.
I hope to read whatever you make one day.
I suspect there’s more potential for profit as the author, but I believe the illustrators will get paid whether the book sells or not.
So it depends on whether or not the book is popular.
But accept this answer with the caveat that this is only my best guess.
I haven’t actually done an illustrated children’s book, so I don’t know how the deals are structured.
I know the art is a lot more important to the book than what I write.
My goal is to create pictures for the reader using words.
The illustrator and the writer each get 50% of the advance and the royalties because each are equally important to a successful book.