Monday, February 28, 2011

“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!” Part 8: The Illustrator’s Contract

This is Part 8 of my blog series on publishing a children's book.  If you missed the first articles, read
“Hey! I have a great idea for a children’s book!”: Part 1!
Part 2: Know your Publishers!
Part 3: Two Ways to Self-Publish
Part 4: Self-publishing Author’s First Step

Part 5: Choosing Your Self-publishing Company
Part 6: Meet Your Illustrator!
Part 7: Hiring Your Illustrator

Drafting a Contract
The contract between the author and the freelance illustrator is a very important document to have squared away before anything is made or paid.  Personally, I write up my own children’s book illustration contract form for my clients; some authors may wish to present their own drafts to the individuals they are hiring. You can have a lawyer draw up a contract or look yours over if you wish to spend the money on their advice. Having this agreement in writing is not 100% fool proof protection for the parties involved, but is part of conducting business in the most ethical and professional way possible. A good resource for model contracts and fees is the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.

Contract Basics
 Here are some things that are standard in a children’s book illustrator’s contract:
• A typical illustrator contract gives the publisher (you) the exclusive LICENSE to reproduce the images for that specific book. The illustrator retains copyright of the images and the originals. If you want to purchase the originals, you can negotiate that, but it still does not allow you to use the images for anything you want. You can usually use the images for book publicity only.
• The illustrator provides rough sketches for approval then final works with a limited number of revisions. Additional revisions would be covered under another set of compensation rates if the illustrator agrees to do any at all.
The compensation package should be delineated clearly in this document (see last post).
• Specify the number, size and type of illustrations to be created.
• Include a clear project time table with specific deadlines.
• Subsidiary rights (the rights to use the illustrations aside from the first edition printing of the book itself) should be in agreement with the illustrator and cause for additional compensation.  This means you do not get to use the illustrations from your book to create and sell T-shirts and mugs, to use as images on your personal web page, to copy and/or revise for a future book you think they would work just as well for, for an e-book or video, for your own logo or letterhead, etc. unless you hammer that out in a contract.
• The author/publisher may use full/cropped illustrations and cover illustration/design for the book’s marketing and publicity in any media.
• The illustrator’s name should appear on the cover and credited whenever an image is used for print/web publicity.
• Typically, the illustrator will be paid in thirds (at contract signing, after rough sketches and upon delivery of final work).
• Some contracts have a "kill fee", which means if the project gets abandoned, the illustrator is paid a modified amount depending on the amount of work completed, or if in the case of royalties, a set fee if the book is not published and sold within a specified amount of time.

Holding Up the Author/Publisher's End of the Contract
• Remember that you will most likely have a limited number of revisions allowed without additional compensation, so plan the amount of work you need done and communicate generally what you want to see before the work starts.
• Clearly articulate any specific imagery or descriptions you feel are important to your story, but beyond that, trust the artist to do the job.
• Make your payments on time.
• If there are mutually agreed upon changes made to the original contract agreement, amend the contract in writing.
• Make the full/final payment when the work is in hand.
• Keep good records of payments, especially if paying in cash.
• Keep the illustrator apprised of the book production during and after the artwork is complete.
• If your contract includes a royalty clause, report your sales and pay out the royalties when promised.

The moment you’ve been waiting for is almost here: The mail carrier leaves the parcel at your door, you pick it up, tear open the edge of the padded envelope, and inside you see...

...check my next blog post to find out what is in the envelope!...

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