Paying an illustrator

by JSS

I have written a children's book, and I want to know what is the best way to approach my illustrator. If I am low on funds and can't pay up front, how do I share the profits but gain complete creative control? Or do you think it would be better to pay up front?

If that is the case what is a fair price to pay her? FYI it is an age 5-7 children's book, 32 pages.

Comments for Paying an illustrator

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Approaching an illustrator as an author
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Interesting question.

I think I'm surmising correctly that you're planning on self-publishing. If on the other hand you're planning on attaching an illustrator to your manuscript BEFORE submitting to traditional publishers, no less an authority than Harold Underdown says that's NOT the way to do it.

An established illustrator who so believes in your book that (s)he's willing to take no money upfront is the ideal, but probably a bit pie in the sky.

(I asked big-time illustrator Jim Harris to write an article about working with (and paying) an illustrator. You might want to check it out.)

A fair price is largely a function of what the illustrator is used to getting. A sought-after illustrator is going to demand more money...and might well be worth it. A new illustrator might just be happy to have a project, but you're going to need to figure out if they're up to the challenge.

Illustrators from Eastern Europe, India and Asia and even Latin America are often the most affordable, and there's plenty of talent to choose from. But here's the thing: their ability to interpret your book in the most astute fashion may be limited by language differences. I've worked with foreign illustrators, and it can be a challenge. As I correspond with them, I look not only at their artistic talents but at their ability to communicate in MY language, which, unfortunately, is the only one I know!

I hope that helps.

don't use an illustrator
by: Anonymous

I wouldn't even look for an illustrator. From what I understand, once you acquire a publisher, most of the time they toss your illustrations in favor of illustrations which they think would help market the book the best.

The reality of paying an illustrator: you must!
by: Jeremy Foster-Fell

I had also hoped when I was writing my first book that I could find an illustrator who would be delighted to do the illustration for a share of profits.

That is not reality. The vast majority of illustrators, if not all, who hear, "No money, but a share of the profits," will disappear quickly. Most of them have had that offer dozens of times and don't even bother to ask the obvious question: "What profits?"

It is possible to find U.S. based illustrators who are relatively new and perhaps unpublished who would be able to work with you for modest prices, say 100 bucks per page illustration. That is a practical plan.

Writing the book, illustrating the book and self publishing the book is not difficult...though it takes a surprising amount of work and time.

The real difficulty starts after you have published your book on Amazon, as getting noticed and selling your book is an even greater challenge.

Paying an Illustrator
by: JSS

Thank you for your comments. I am new to this world and was under the impression that you had to have a completed book, text and illustration. I can submit the text without the illustrator? I love this idea.

Manuscript alone
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

That's the way it works!

You probably should consider Harold Underdown's book that answers this question and many others, referenced with the link above. (For instance, you'll want to submit in the right format.) Also, a personal plug: You may want to have your manuscript professionally critiqued before you send it out. That's a service we provide here...somewhat affordably!

Paying an Illustrator
by: Anonymous

Around the end of last year I had a manuscript for a children's book that I wrote critiqued by a professional, and I have since rewritten it.

I submitted the revised manuscript to an editor at Xlibris who liked it, and Xlibris offered to publish the manuscript as a children's picture book. However, I could not afford their illustrators.

My cousin, who lives in the Philippines, is a very talented artist and is aspiring to become a book illustrator. Since I know him I decided to hire him to do my illustrations.

I paid him $75 each for 8 illustrations for my book, one of which will also be used for the cover.

I understand what you mean about foreign illustrators may not be able to interpret your manuscript the way you want because of the difference in values, way of thinking and attitudes. I had to do a lot of explaining for him to understand.

He would submit illustrations according to his interpretation first, then I approved or disapproved the illustration. Luckily, there was very little I disapproved of, and whenever I did I tried to explain as thoroughly as I could what I wanted the illustration to convey. I went as far as saying, "Take this off and maybe substitute with this, etc."

I now have all my illustrations and I am getting ready to submit both manuscript and illustrations to Xlibris for publication. The title of the book is "Bath Time Mischief."

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