Question about setting prices



  • Hey Forum, I am in touch with a publisher who may want me for a project. I've been asked to fill out a Google form and two of the questions are a bit tricky. The first asks what my normal fee is. Not having had a paid job yet I don't know how to answer, and am thinking I should look at the Graphic Artists Guild PEG, or if you know what a beginning illustrator should charge I'd like your opinion. Is it better to quote an hourly rate?
    Also, the second question asks if I would consider working for royalty. I am thinking this could go either way: I could do a lot of work for little return, or the work could be successful and it could surprise me. If anyone has done this I'd appreciate your input.



  • @rhirsch I think this could be a small publisher? When he asks if you would consider working for royalty, it means they would pay no advance whatsoever?
    I think you should shoot him a couple of questions back. How many copies are they going to print? How big is their normal sales volume? If you don´t want to ask them directly, you can probably do your own research and calculations and see if it´s worth it. I was once contacted by a Swiss publisher in French language who wanted to pay only royalties, but their weird format, high price point and small market segment already told me that they would probably have a sales volume of no more than 1000-2000 copies. Which at 5% royalty is next to nothing for illustrating 32 pages. Of course royalties is open-ended: there´s always the possibility of foreign rights, etc...so is your call whether you take the risk or not. As for pricing, I think hourly pricing is unusual in illustration. What I think in my head when I´m discussing budget is how many illustrations or how many pages. I have ballpark prices in my head per illustration depending on the type (vignette, full spread or half-page) and just sum them up, or use an average number if I don´t know yet. Other important aspects are rights (can you use the illustrations elsewhere? Can you enter them in competitions, post them on social media, etc?) and timing.
    I don´t want to spread distrust, but normally publishers come with a budget - they don´t ask for quotes. They make an offer and you negotiate on that.



  • @smceccarelli Can I piggyback on this question in regards to what you mentioned about pricing per illustration based on whether it is a vignette, full spread or half page. Would you state to the publisher that the price and work you have agreed on will be based on x amount of vignettes, full spreads etc or would it be more of loose figure based around what you expect to produce. What if you submit your drafts and the publisher says that they now want a full spread on every page when you previously expected there to be less time intensive images?



  • @gary-wilkinson I don’t think it’s a good policy to justify your price. I’ve never listened to the negotiation discussions that my agent has, but when we talk, she normally talks about timing, rights, type of client - never about hours of work or number of illustrations. I think a potential pitfall for illustrators is to regard their work as “craft” - like a production designer who simply executes a technical task. An illustrator is a creative artist and creates a unique value for the client - or that is the image he/she needs to project. If you start giving set prices per illustration or per hour you transmit the message that illustration is a technical craft rather than a valued creative skill. So I think any “set prices” should just be guidelines in your head and never be transmitted in this form to a client.



  • Thanks for the response you two. I appreciate it.