SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

What's a "going rate" range for eBook illustrations?

Discussion started on

darlingm

Guest
My wife is an established artist, and creates acrylic paintings of characters in the general genre of fantasy, fairy, and anime characters.  She's creating paintings to be used as illustrations in a children's book that is going to start out as an eBook on iPad, and we'll see where it goes from there.

It's the author's first book as well.  They're offering $200 per painting, and we're expecting up to 20 paintings.  It's basically as a work for hire agreement.  She'll keep the original paintings, but there won't be any royalties or restrictions of how her work can be published or used.  A physically published book, t-shirts, or (the one in a tillion chance) if it becoming an animated show would lead to no extra payments.

Her paintings are extremely detailed, and take quite a bit of time to make each one compared to the rate many people can work at.  This substantially reduces her effective hourly rate, but I know that only goes so far.  Just mentioning this is something she's going to spend a few months on.  We want the deal to happen no matter what though - regardless of this - she's been very interested in doing a children's book.

Is this within the realm of current times, or is this way out of whack?  Most of my research found that typically royalties are given, but there's an advance given on the royalties.  That way, they only kick in if the project does well.  But, since she hasn't been published in a book before, and since the economy's not doing as well as when many of the things I read, I wanted to check on the current state of things.
#1 - November 20, 2012, 04:17 PM

Writer/Illustrator
Member.
Poster Plus
Have you guys already signed a contract? If she's already at work on the illustrations I can only assume so. If this is the case I would recommend doing far more research and learning about the industry before jumping in with both feet. This is a great place to do some of the research as it is full of great information but a lot more will be necessary to familiarize yourself with the industry.

To answer your question, a work for hire agreement is just that: work for hire. A flat fee per page, illustration, etc. and nothing more. Unless specifically written in to the contract royalties and ancillary rights (merchandising, film rights, etc.) are forfeited when signing a standard WFH. If you believe her work is worth more or you'd like to include royalties then I would advise against taking the first job that comes along simply because you are interested in making a children's book. Take the time to find the right project at the right price or a bad precedent will be set before you are even out of the gate. $200 a painting is an ok rate but I would also research and contact other illustrators/painters in the same or a similar genre to properly gauge compensation.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck!
#2 - November 20, 2012, 06:10 PM
http://alexschumacherart.com/
World's Crummiest Umbrella (2014, Wandering in the Words Press)

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
I think the bigger questions include who's producing the ebook. Is it a well-recognized company like Ruckus, for instance? Or the author doing it themselves with some programming help? Or some start-up trying to break in? (How many titles do they already have out?)

The answer is going to have bearing on whether $200 per illo is an amount you should take and run and be happy with... because it's also going to have significant bearing on whether there's a snowball's chance this ebook will go anywhere. There are a ZILLION start-ups trying to break into this space and most of them seem to be sinking into oblivion as fast as they form. But the fact that there's money up front at all is encouraging... lots of start-ups are trying to get the work for free on future earnings, when those future earnings are extremely unlikely.

All that said, I agree with everything AJ said. If your wife wants to get into illustrating bound books, this is probably not the best doorway. If she just wants some paid work for a portfolio, or she's hoping to do more in the e-space with this particular company, it might be a pretty good opportunity.
#3 - November 20, 2012, 08:58 PM
The Farwalker Trilogy
The Humming of Numbers
Reality Leak

www.jonisensel.com

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
Okay, I just saw one of your other posts that the author "will be assembling the ebook themselves."

Take the money and run. (Fast.) For an average schmoe doing it themselves, I believe $200 each is pretty decent. (And presumably your wife feels it's worth that or she wouldn't have agreed to it?) Our illustrators here can certainly correct me if that's wrong.

But boy, get a written contract and some big chunk of the cash up front.
#4 - November 20, 2012, 09:25 PM
The Farwalker Trilogy
The Humming of Numbers
Reality Leak

www.jonisensel.com

Writer/Illustrator
Member.
Poster Plus
Quote
But boy, get a written contract and some big chunk of the cash up front.

If you and your wife feel this is a fair rate then do exactly as Joni says. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 get a contract and big chunk of cash!!
#5 - November 20, 2012, 10:07 PM
http://alexschumacherart.com/
World's Crummiest Umbrella (2014, Wandering in the Words Press)

evilrobot

Guest
I can tell you my rock bottom price is $250.00 a page but it really depends on the artist. If they are offering $200.00 a page take that amount then subtract any taxes you have to pay on it, (Note that in some states you will have to take out taxes for selling the art as well as your own personal taxes), then subtract any other costs such as art materials and postage. Divide the remaining amount by the average amount of hours it takes to finish one page. That is how much you are making per hour. That will tell you if it's worth it or not.

It takes me an average of 6 hours to finish one piece of work that I'm happy with. (This includes all the time I spend on character sketches, roughs, color comps and the back and forth between the client) when I charge my rock bottom price I end up making around $30.00 per hour. Like I said that's my rock bottom price and if I really like the project and need the money that's what I'll do it for. But I usually use that price as my Custer's Last Stand. I would rather make between $60.00 and $80.00 per hour. You have to also take into account all the promotion costs it took to get the job and that jobs are few and far between these days so what ever you make you want it to last until you get the next job.

Also get 1/3rd down/ 1/3rd at roughs and the final payment upon completion. If they are not willing to give a down payment on the job. Walk away you may never get paid.

Any way that's how I figure it out hope it helps.
#6 - November 21, 2012, 08:04 AM

darlingm

Guest
There is a very detailed and industry standard draft contract, but it's not signed yet.  Royalties is the only thing left undecided.

It is correct that the author will be assembling the eBook themselves, without an eBook company/publisher/market - at least to start.  They are going to use a software package (still searching for which one will be best) to put it together.  So, this will be their first eBook.

Regarding the hourly rate, we don't feel it is worth it in one sense that she takes quite a bit longer than 6 hours each piece so it will be a low rate, but it is worth it in the sense of we really could use this deal to happen right now.  (If there hadn't been a car accident a while back and there were other offers rather than "free" time, we might come out differently.)  We are pretty sure they won't go substantially higher on the up front rate, since they know the good risk of not recouping much of their investment, but am not sure if we'd overcome the resistance to royalties.

Paintings are going to be done one after another, and payment will be for each one, before the next starts, to aleviate those worries.  Quick sketches have been done to work through consistency and overall look.
#7 - November 21, 2012, 10:19 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
>Paintings are going to be done one after another, and payment will be for each one, before the next starts, to aleviate those worries<

Are you saying when she finishes each painting, they will be sent to the author one after the other? She should keep each finished piece, as she will need to reference them as she works on the rest. I don't know if this is what you meant but you do not want to send them away one at a time, that's never done. Is this author local to you? Otherwise, the costs of fed exing each piece separately will quickly eat away at the payment for each Illustration.  Honestly, I would not worry about royalties when it comes to self publishing. Publishers almost NEVER take on books ALREADY published.  Do not, whatever you do, negotiate for a lower payment up front, in order to agree on getting royalties. Most times, after family and friends have bought a copy, there are really no more sales to speak of (MOST times)
I think you really want to focus on rights, not royalties, in this case. Selling ONLY the rights to the art for the ebook, period. Other uses, new agreement, another payment (if you want to sell these other rights, such as shirts or print book or whatever) You mention you get the art back, good, payment for creating Illustrations for books is NOT payment for purchasing original art.
It sounds though, like the work is well underway at this point and as such, you have shown you are agreeing to the Authors contract.  Typically you should have gotten at least 1/2 of the total payment after the sketches were approved, not waiting for a payment until after each piece is finished but... next time:)
#8 - November 22, 2012, 12:32 AM
"Penelope and the Humongous Burp"
"Penelope and the Monsters"
"Penelope and the Preposterous Birthday Party"

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
>Also get 1/3rd down/ 1/3rd at roughs and the final payment upon completion. If they are not willing to give a down payment on the job. Walk away you may never get paid. <

I agree with evilrobot, 1/3 upon signing the contract is the best scenario and this is typically how a Publisher works. 1/2 after sketches is how I end up working most times though, because I tend to sketch fast enough that by the time the Publisher has MAILED the contract, the sketches are done... but it's not the "correct" way to do things, as you never know, the whole job could be scraped between the time agreeing to take the job and the contract made up and sent out:)
#9 - November 22, 2012, 12:40 AM
"Penelope and the Humongous Burp"
"Penelope and the Monsters"
"Penelope and the Preposterous Birthday Party"

Double W Illustrations
Member In Memoriam
Poster Plus
I agree with Christine. Don't worry about lowering your rates for royalties. If they have never done this before, have no publisher or anyone that can help them market or sell this book then they are in for a very very uphill battle. Self publishing and e-books isn't something to go into lightly. I'd much rather limit their rights. Only sell them first publication rights and retain all other rights for yourself. Let's not forget that selling all rights means that they can sell posters, postcards, t-shirts, iphone cases, whatever with your artwork. Even sell your character designs and whatever they like to whomever they like. So limit the rights and tell them when the book is a big success they can come back and buy more rights as they need them.

Also the rate that you charge for illustrating an e-book is no different than what you would charge for any other illustration. It may even be more depending on if you need to set the files up differently or anything for animation and whatnot. If 200 is enough for you then that's your call. It seems like you guys are already set on taking that rate anyway. Best of luck!
#10 - November 24, 2012, 07:19 PM

darlingm

Guest
All excellent points.

The author is local, but I could have mentioned that we get to benefit that I professionally reproduce artwork as a fine art printer, and have the ability to digitally archive each piece as an extremely detailed several hundred megabyte file that I can email them - so the original never leaves our hands, and "sending" it doesn't cost anything.

Good to know about the up front payments.  That would have been nice, and something we'll keep in mind next time.

We definitely wouldn't be interested in lowering the rate to obtain royalties.  We'll have to see what can be worked out regarding the rights.
#11 - November 25, 2012, 12:35 PM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.