Mired in a dilemma of other’s indecision.

Picture book illustration page breakdown

Picture book iPad app, rough page breakdown

I’m having problems working with authors of self-published picture books taking too long to approve each stage of the illustration process. A book I estimate to take 3 months of work, ends up taking 8 months  because of the lag time between approvals on each illustration. My actual work time is the same, but I make very little money because I am tied up for so long waiting on one book. Maybe that’s why so many illustrators won’t work for self-publishing authors.

I’ve tried working on two or more picture books at once, but I tend to get confused with the 16 plus illustrations for each book and forget which author told me what. I wish I could find someone who really wants to move quickly and can make up their mind.

When I get a few more picture books under my belt, I will start to contact publishers directly. I really like meeting and working with the children’s book authors directly, it just seems like as a group, they have a problem making swift decisions at each step.

Please comment, all suggestions are welcome.


5 responses »

  1. Hi Dayne, in my design buz we have language in the contracts that talks about comment returns. (they get 4 working days) The owner sees it there as well as in reminder language at the bottom of the emails associated with review sets. or the client gets x percentage added to a change order. this assertion is supported by some language about “timely manner and good work flow” etc. we really haven’t had an issue and if we do, we just give them a little reminder about the 4-day rule and “shazam” – they respond! You can be nice but lead them to understand that time is money and that goes both ways!

    • Wow, that’s an idea! Thanks for your response. Really, somehow the idea of giving the client/author a fixed time frame to make decisions had not crossed my mind. I have very exact language about making changes to the art in my contract, but nothing about the client taking weeks to make a decision. If I expect them to make decisions in a timely fashion, am I also held to a certain time frame for making the art? Should this also be in my contract. My contract states now, the deadline for the finished art is agreed upon by both parties. No one has ever nailed me down about the amount of time I take to finish an illustration or a whole book so far.

      • You can choose to put dates, I usually do – at least broad dates – like beginning and expected end dates. Oh, and another thing we usually put in is some language about number of changes or sketches or whatever your working style is. some can’t make up their minds until they see a fully realized image and then they decide “it’s not quite what they were looking for.” Huh, that dong don’t hunt! By putting a limit on finished art, sketches, concepts , etc, this kind of action can be held in check.

  2. Thanks Karen, for thinking of me. The book I’m working now right now is also about a “chubby” little girl. It’s darling but the process is moving along much too slowly just like the three little pigs book before. Fat animals and chubby kids must be BIG now. If your dietitian friend is still interested by next April (that looks like when this book will be finished), we can give it a try. Working long distance is not a road-block at all. Most of the authors I work for live in other states. Skype, Go-to-Meeting and sending files by email or DropBox works great.

  3. I’ve got a dietitian who just contacted me about illustrations for self-publishing a book on a fat little girl learning how to make better diet and exercise decisions. I’m thinking I probably don’t want to do it, but I don’t want to be rude or discourage her from pursuing it. I’d push her your way (in fact, I tried to) but she’s looking for someone in the KC Metro area.


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