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Advice about Contract with Self-Published Author

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Hi Everyone!

I'm relatively new to the Children's book industry. I've illustrated two book over the past year with a self publisher. It went really well and the author was easy to work with. Recently, I've been receiving more and more inquiries to illustrate for other authors and have taken on a few books to illustrator over the next year. One author recently wanted me to illustrate two books for her back to back. I gave her a quote which she seemed to be fine with. I sent her an agreement to look over and she seems to have issues with me as the Illustrator having sole ownership of the artwork. I was told over and over and read many places to always own your artwork and never give the rights away. Just curious if I am understanding this fully.

This is what I have listed in the Artist & Author agreement:
1. Illustrator is sole owner of the artwork and retains the copyright and original artwork.
She asks "Why?" and says she wants us to co-own the artwork together. She says that story is key to making the illustrations happen and we should create these characters together.

Also, I have listed that I would like my name printed, a bio, website...etc in the back of the book. She says having my name printed on the front is fine but does not want any additional informational about me in the book. Just seemed a little strange to me especially since she was earlier talking about how we should "co-own" the artwork...etc.

Just getting a few red flags and wondering if this project would be beneficial for me. I don't really want to be committed to two books if the author is going to be difficult to work with throughout.

I would love everyone's advice before I email her back.


#1 - October 10, 2014, 06:39 AM

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Oh and I also had a sections about how she has the right to reproduce the artwork for promotional material such as posters, postcards, banners, flyers..etc. So i'm not sure why she would need to own the rights to the artwork since I would be giving her permission to use the work to promote the book as well.
#2 - October 10, 2014, 08:00 AM

I draw stuff for chocolates.
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Run away and take your pencil and paints with you.

You are the creator of the artwork - you own the copyrights. If she wants full ownership of said rights (which it looks like she's aiming for) she pays for them. And she pays A LOT.

Her not wanting to give you credit with a web link and a bio is just nasty.

I wouldn't work with this author, I'm 90% sure she'll throw other red flags at you along the way and who needs that kind of aggravation.

Another book will come along. One where you feel more comfortable about the agreement going into it. Tell her you decided you are not a good fit for her project and move on.
#3 - October 10, 2014, 08:46 AM
Animal Totem Mandala 2016
The Story Circle 2016 (PiƱata)
Color and Conjure 2017 (Llewellyn)

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Is she going to let you co-own the text?? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?

I agree with Wendy. Whether her book is good or not, she's obviously unfamiliar with the industry and how things work. You could take the time to teach her, but that's not really your job. I think taking this commission would cause a lot of headaches and grief for you.

You could forward her a copy of this for her future reference (there is a downloadable PDF):
#4 - October 10, 2014, 08:59 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

Totally agree with Wendi and Artemisia. I also illustrated a book for a self publish author but the illustrations are totally mine.
#5 - October 10, 2014, 09:04 AM

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I'm going to tell her that I'm not interested in being her Illustrator. Initially, that's what my instinct was telling me but I wanted to get everyone's advice! Much appreciated!
#6 - October 10, 2014, 01:35 PM

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I am so relieved you made this decision. I'm not an illustrator, but was coming here to urge you to run--not walk--away fast, based on experiences working as an editor with would-be authors who don't have a clue. You will never regret this decision!
#7 - October 10, 2014, 02:25 PM

I'm glad for your sake that you turned this down, Casie. You are the artist. You own the artwork copyrights. That's all.

Also, the part about not letting you have a bio at the back just sounds very off.

Good luck and have fun with the next project, and the next, and the next!
#8 - October 12, 2014, 05:53 AM
Writing & Illustrating Quietly Bold Kidlit
My Clearest Me
Little Orchid's Sea Monster Trouble


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