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Full Version: is this a bad deal?
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So I had an author contact me through a friend asking if I was interested in a little freelance work based on their soon-to-be-published fantasy book, and I'm not sure if it's a good deal or not, and really not even sure what he's wanting. Here's part of the e-mail:

Quote:I am writing a fantasy series. I have a cover artist, the publisher wanted to keep the artist in the company, but they don't cover marketing material. So, what I am looking for is an artist to give the characters a face with some character sketches, images I can use for a website, and help bring the world to life.


For pay, I was thinking $70-$100 per painting/illustration, for now. If the books take off, I would want to pay you more.

Does it sound like something you would be interested in?

Does it? I know it's not industry standard at all. Kind of sounds like some character designs, but it also sounds like polished advertising illustrations, too. Possibly even web design. The price sounds on the low side for this kind of work, but then again, I am totally unestablished, with zero legitimate freelance jobs under my belt. Also, I feel like I need some kind of contract drawn up with an agreed upon usage of the art and what my stake is in sales of the book.

What do you guys think?
I think you should ask him to be more specific. Prod him a bit if you don't know what hes asking for, especially since hes being pretty darn vague about it. I don't really know much about rates, but I do know that hes not being clear at all about what he wants. I would also definitely get a contract written up before agreeing to anything. You never know when people are going to want to screw you over
Good call Beardley. I have a book of standard illustration contracts that I'm looking through now to get an idea of what to ask for.

So I wrote back and asked what he was wanting. He said five or six character designs, and a few key scenes from the book illustrated. The illustrations, he wants to use on the website and e-mails, and he wants to be able to crop in on some and place them in banner ads.

Am I correct in thinking that, with the character designs, he would just buy the rights outright, but with the illustrations, I would be charging for each individual usage while retaining the rights to the images?

Still not sure about the rates, either. And, stupid question: is it necessary to have a physical signature on the contracts, or would we sign, scan, and e-mail them back and forth, similar to fax (which neither of us has)?
Sorry man, I really don't know much about the business end of things. Hopefully someone else who knows more can chime in here

I would guess, though, that anything you produce would become his property unless otherwise stated in the contract. That seems to be the way it goes most of the time
A common practice is to ask for a percentage of the money up front (especially if you will be doing a lot of work for the client, what this does is insures you will be paid something if the client goes MIA with your work and also means that the client is serious). From what I understand the client wants your illustrations for the book and to use them for advertising and in different respects but to pay a flat fee for everything. You should clarify if you are ok with this before hand and have it written into the contract if not that if the client decides to use your work in other places than the book he will be able to as long as he pays you X amount. Something along those lines, as for the physical signing I think it would be ok for the method you wish to use, but I would research that.
Pargin, how fast are you? I know that even a fast concept takes me 1.5-2 hours. If you watch any FZD school videos, the concepts Feng Zhu does take him on average 2-2.5 hours, sometime 1.5.

For me a finished illustration take about 8-9 hours depending on how complex the subject it.

SO with that said $100 is not enough for me to even be interested. Unless they are looking for line artwork, I'd stay away until they can pool some more money together for you.

You should always require a percentage upfront (30-50%) this is your kill fee. They will never see that money back. All of this needs to be in a contract.
Sounds like absolutely rubbish pay to me. Take the amount they are going to pay you and divide that by how long you think it'll take you to do the pieces. Unless you think you can do these illustrations in a couple of hours each (including every stage in the process: sketching, ideas, comping, painting and finishing them), then no way is it worth it.

Don't take the work on and work extra hours and rationalise it to yourself by saying "it'll be good experience for me, i'm a noob so I don't deserve right pay yet anyway", etc. AFAICT everyone taking on shit jobs or even working for free like this is what keeps the rates and pay so shitty and low in this industry. See Art PACT:

So IMO its a rubbish deal and don't take it on unless you make some very simple illustrations. I mean.. does the job give you a good feeling? Do you feel "Yeah, great, this is a good job I'm happy to have", or will you feel something more like a slave, hoping your master will give you better pay in the completely small and random chance that this book is a success, which is completely out of your and his control anyway.

And I agree with everything said previously about getting upfront payment and contracts.
Thanks for the advice. I actually quoted the guy quite a bit more and sent contracts back in October and I never heard from him again. Good riddance, I guess.

I think he must have gotten a shit deal from his publisher, too, when they aren't even willing to pay for any marketing materials for the book they are publishing.
Quote: I actually quoted the guy quite a bit more ... and I never heard from him again. Good riddance, I guess.

That's what happens to 80% of the inquiries I get.
But that also means that the other 20% inquiries turn into decent, normal-paying jobs I am happy to do.

If you want to be a professional illustrator you better get used to saying no.