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Questions for Illustrators who did Work-For-Hire Contracts

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I've illustrated for a book series and the publishing company has decided to extend the series and they want me to continue illustrating. This publishing company is work-for-hire. As an illustrator, is it possible to ask for a raise in pay?  And how do I ask? And what percentage should I ask for?
#1 - January 08, 2020, 12:20 PM

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It is possible to ask. Decide whether you're willing to work if they say no. Some work-for-hire is strictly budgeted by the company. I'm assuming the series is somewhat popular or they wouldn't be extending it. There's no reason you shouldn't get some of the benefits of that if the company can afford to give it to you.

As far as how to ask, that depends on your relationship with the editor. How do you usually communicate. Use that method. Be polite but make your argument to. "I've very much enjoyed working on these books and would like to continue. However, since the books are doing so well, I was wondering if there is now more in the budget for illustrations." (If you can get a sense of how the books are selling, that would help.)

How much to ask for is a harder question. You might use what I typed above and see what comes back. Some publishers are small and can't afford much. So consider the company carefully. (I should clarify that I've asked for raises in hourly pay but I'm an author and have not asked for a project based raise.) One thing to consider is whether your costs have gone up and by how much. If you're paying more for supplies then you need to make that money back to break even. Also look at what you may be getting from other clients. You might be able to figure your hourly earnings in the past and look to increase those. Essentially the same factors that went into your initial deal should be considered again. Good luck.
#2 - January 08, 2020, 06:33 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
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Agree with Debbie and really there is no harm in asking. You have worked on the series for a while, they like you/your work and you've got a relationship with the AD, and or, ED now. I would just send an email asking if there is any room in the budget for an increase for the art work. When I have asked, there was always a positive response. Maybe not a huge sum but more :)
#3 - January 09, 2020, 03:29 AM
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I'm an illustrator that does work-for-hire, but it all goes through my art rep.  I have final say on taking a job or not, but she does the negotiations for me. 

I'd say that I think Debbie makes good sense.  You certainly won't get more without asking.  I might suggest that if you can come up with a reason for it costing more, that might help too.  Perhaps you can say that the projects take you longer than you initially estimated or they're costing more in materials, there's more illustrations in this project,  your rent went up and so you're upping your hourly rate, or whatever.  So long as it's true, of course. 
#4 - January 09, 2020, 12:02 PM
Karen B. Jones

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In truth, you shouldn't need to give a reason for wanting more money unless you're making a substantial amount to start with. Your work has already justified your asking for more compensation because it's good and it's selling.

Good luck.
#5 - January 09, 2020, 05:40 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
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No, you don't NEED an explanation.  But some people respond better to knowing why.  Especially if they're kinda cheap. I've had to discuss why a new project is bid higher than the last one was with clients before.  Having a reason to point to other than, "because I want more money," seemed to help them accept it better.  But you're right that you don't have to tell them any of it if you don't want to.  Also, "because I want more money," is a perfectly valid reason.  ;) 
#6 - January 12, 2020, 03:28 PM
Karen B. Jones

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  Also, "because I want more money," is a perfectly valid reason.  ;) 

:lol4  but true

Chiming in late, but I agree about asking for more money. I'm terrible at negotiations but even I've managed to get some extras, like more comp. copies, and sometimes morev$$$. Good luck.

#7 - January 12, 2020, 05:01 PM
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