3 things come to mind right away after skimming through most of what everyone has told you.
- You're JUST the illustrator. Not the art director, not the publisher, not the graphic designer, not the letterer, not the author.
What falls under your job description is the ART. That's it. Sure you do art direction, but even books with 20 pages NEED an outside art director that usually comes from either the publisher, in this case the Client doing it themselves. They're not hiring you to art direct. That is a separate job in itself, that isn't required of you as an add on. If you want to make a contract that says you will art direct your own work AFTER the fact... that requires allowing them to change everything you do, as your doing it... which yes, is fine if you're covered financially for changes. And everything will need revision especially with difficult clients, which this person is before you've even met. RED FLAG!
- Everything is a learning experience. You can chalk this up to that, if you wanna find out just how hard this is going to be? Maybe you're made of titanium, and you can do anything, and you're attitude is bring it on!!! That's great, keep that, go in like gangbusters wanting to make a great book, and have fun doing it. I don't want to ruin your positive attitude with horror stories. So this is up to you, but go in with eyes wide open, knowing this is gonna be tough, it might even be terrible. But if you think you have what it takes, go for it.
If you had a nightmare job from Disney, would you turn it down? HELL NO!!! You'd sell your mother's favorite chair and tell her it got lost in the fire. It's Disney, it's a once in a lifetime chance, it's immortality. But this guy is not Disney. You can't go into every job thinking I'm gonna treat this like I'm working for Disney. It's a great thought, but you'd be killing yourself for something that obviously is more about the experience, than it is about the benefits. And that's fine if you wanna do that... I hear people like to backpack alone through Europe. NOT ME. I'm a city boy... I like room service, working toilets and cable TV.
Some people like to rough it. That's what this is gonna be...
- And this is something Will said in one of his videos that has stuck with me. He does maybe 2-4 books a year, and they take a big chunk of his time, his personal family time, and he knows that going in. So he is not gonna go for a life of 10-15 books and kill himself, I mean exhaust himself every night, and ignore his family and what not. His time is important to him.
As should yours be to you. As should everyone's time be to them. Even this author. If he hasn't found the right artist, ask him why, really ask him what was wrong with all those people? What did he like, what did he out right hate? What didn't work with him personality wise? What didn't work with him as far as their work ethic, their approaches, their answers to disagreements, etc... You're going on a DATE. As far as I'm concerned this is about to be a personal relationship with a finite time period. But it's gonna be personal. You're gonna look back at it someday and say that's how I spent the summer of 2016, working with Joe Killjoy and his book, How to bore me to death volumes 1-12.
So ask yourself. Is this job, worth my time? Even if you're starting out, what are you gonna learn or take away from this job? Money is not the answer to all things. If you're working for money, you're in the wrong profession. I can name about 8 things that will get you more money in half the time, that are more enjoyable than doing this... but I am not you.
You're already entertaining the notion, so something inside you is curious. You're willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt even though you know and see the red flags everywhere. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Just kidding. But seriously if you think you've got the right stuff to do this, and the money sounds good, and you wanna know the answers to all these questions, go for it. May the wind be at your back...
In all seriousness, good luck to you, and let us know what happens.