Need your inputs on a picture book offer



  • I was contacted by a publisher for illustrating the PB. They offered $1,500 advance against ~8% royalty for a 32 page book. So after tax it is about $30 a page ....
    and it is a well-known publisher ...

    My former experience are all for educational markets. Although they pay a flat fee, some offers are much better than $1,500. Wonder if this is a reasonable price tag in trade book market for beginner. They price makes it feel like illustrating for charity ...

    On the other hand, I have been working with an agent on my own book for a while, we haven't signed contract yet, but the agent really likes my story and she has good sales records. So I am wondering if spending 1 month on a $1,500 book at this time could be a waste of time. Instead I can push my own book to publish faster and potentially get a better deal. Is that correct or low ball offer is just a common thing nowadays? ... What is your opinion or experience?

    Thanks a lot!


  • Pro

    @idid It's definitely low ball.. My first book was paid $1500 but it was only 24 pages (12 illustration spreads) and it was a really small local French publisher. I wanted the experience and since it's such a small imprint in a small market (and I know they use government grants to stay open) I didn't feel taken advantage of because this was quite reflective of the amount of money the book would make in sales. However for a well-known publisher to offer this little, it's kind of.. meh ๐Ÿ˜• If you think you'll feel taken advantage of, it'll leave a bad taste in your mouth. I think you should try to negotiate by saying this price is much lower than the industry average ($8-12k). But since their starting offer is $1500, I doubt they are willing to change their budget up to a minimum of $8k...

    You also say you have an agent - do they only represent written works or do they represent illustrators too? You could ask her for advice and/or to negotiate this for you. Lastly, is this your first time illustrating a book? If so, the experience might be nice before jumping into your own book, that's something to consider. But it will very likely take more than 1 month (min 2-3 months full-time work) so this is no small project. If you think this would leave a bad taste in your mouth, that it's too much work for this pay and that it'll take time away from your own book, those are excellent reasons to pass up the project. I have in the past taken projects that took time away from what I really wanted to do (grow my online shop) and I've regretted it terribly. Those projects made me feel like "what am I even doing? I'm running, running in the hamster wheel and not getting any closer to the goals that really matter to me."


  • SVS Team SVS Instructor Pro SVS OG

    I would recommend that you DECLINE this offer ASAP. It is so incredibly low that it doesn't even make sense. The absolute lowest rate would be around $7500 (even that is pushing it) so that shows you how far they are off on their price. If they are a well known publisher AND this is a trade book, this offer doesn't make much sense so I feel like something might be off here. If it's just for the cover, then it starts to make more sense. But doing a whole picture book for $1500, no way.

    One other thing, unless you are amazingly fast or have a VERY simple style, a one month turnaround doesn't make much sense either. You need to do all research and character studies with thumbnails, then produce a full sketch dummy, followed by a round of revisions, and then move on to final art. A picture book typically takes anywhere from 3-4 months to a year or more. So be considerate of all these things, not just how long a finished image takes.



  • @NessIllustration and @Lee-White Thank you for prompt reply and sharing your insights/experience. I wasn't 100% sure before posting this thread but after reading your suggestions, I think I'll decline this offer and devote my time to better develop my own book.

    It's kind of pathetic how some publishers are taking advantage of illustrators/writers, as artists are trying hard to live their dreams. But on the other hand, it is teaching me that just thinking as an artist is definitely not enough, business skills/sense is a must to protect ourselves.

    Thanks again for taking time and help! โ˜บ



  • @idid
    i wouldnt decline it directly. make a counter offer based on what lee wrote and see how they react.
    this way you show em you would like to work with em just under different conditions so maybe they think about you again when budget gets bigger.



  • @Molambo Thank you, I have declined the offer just now ๐Ÿ™‚ Don't know if I will hear back from them again though.


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    I have to agree with @Molambo
    There is never anything wrong with countering an offer that is too low. Always taking care to do so politely and professionally.

    The worst that happens is that you show an editor that you know what your work is worth. And if the client doesn't move on the price then you are in the same place you would have been by declining it without negotiating.

    BUT the publishing industry is small. That editor can easily move to a different publisher and will remember that you were a pro who requested a fair advance. In fact the editor likely KNOWS that this was a low-ball offer and might want to take the opportunity to make good with you.

    Not looking to make you feel bad for declining right off (that's likely where this was ending up anyway) but I will always recommend making an effort to negotiate.



  • @davidhohn You are correct, publishing is a small world, and I managed to leave room for future projects so it should be fine ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for the suggestion!


  • SVS OG

    @idid hi! I donโ€™t know if youโ€™re able but can you tell us which publisher it was? Itโ€™s totally fine if you donโ€™t want to.



  • @Nyrryl-Cadiz Can I choose not revealing its name ๐Ÿ˜‰ As other people mentioned, the publishing world is quite small ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!


  • SVS OG

    @idid definitely. ๐Ÿ˜…


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