PB Contract question


lamb and lion study color

Hi guys,

I am coming into my first picture book contract and I have some questions I am hoping you can help me with. They are requesting 16 spreads, 9 spots and a cover for a below standard fee on a fairly short time frame. They are offering a flat fee (vs. a royalty advance) and THEY retain the rights, offering expense of the book, high cost of the author, etc, etc as an excuse. I am willing to accept the $$ being a newbie, but should I push back on the rights? I mean, what if the characters are wildly popular and someone wants to license them (not likely, but we can dream can’t we?)


Kim Wilson

(sorry, don’t know why the text is displaying so weird!)

and look! I’ll try adding a poll for fun. Don’t let this put you off from just answering though. More info is better!



7 responses »

  1. Great comments above— and Will Terry is very savvy when it comes to this kind of stuff!

    I can only “ditto” what’s already been said. You’ll have to think hard about whether you want to do this much work ( and that is a LOT of work) for so little. It also worries me that they would keep the rights without anything in the contract that could give you royalties(or another fee) if they used the art for anything else.

    Let us know what you decide to do!
    All the best,

  2. And another thing – just because someone hasn’t been published is no reason to pay them less. You still possess the talent and have probably been working on your craft your whole life, right? The same amount of work needs to be done whatever your experience! You are worth just as much as someone who has a publishing credit, no matter if anyone thinks otherwise. And be very careful about the short deadline – ask yourself if it’s worth it to do that to yourself for little gain.

  3. Kim, This is one of my pet peeves. They don’t need to buy all rights from you – no one does. I have been asked so many times to do the same thing, and I won’t do it – if they want all rights, they will have to pay a LARGER, not smaller, fee than the average. If you want to do a book project, re-illustrate a classic, or do one of your own stories. Why do all the work for someone else?

    I wrote a couple of blog posts you may want to read and/or send to them. And the link to the resource on the second post is really good to explain where you’re coming from:

  4. Your illustrations are wonderful, you are very talented and certainly don’t look like a newbie. Sounds like they are trying to take advantage of your inexperience. Low price to begin with, PLUS not retaining rights or getting royalties sounds harsh. I don’t mind signing over rights and royalties, if I get enough up front for my time and talent. You have to strike a balance here.

    16 spreads, 9 spots and a cover is a LOT of work. Think about how long this will take very carefully, before you give your time away so someone else can make money. With a picture book the illustrations are very important in fact, just as important as the story. The high cost of Author and printing is not your concern. If the author is expensive and the printing high quality, you too should be paid a fair amount. Why should you be the one to suffer.

    All that said: Do you really really want to do the job? So much you would throw reason to the wind? There is a video by Will Terry that sums up his beliefs about pricing illustrations. Will is a favorite illustrator of mine and a wonderful teacher and marketing genius. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6xrt5ko1uw

    Good Luck, go with your gut,


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