Should You Work With A Small Publisher?


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    Art by Taylor Ackerman

    This week, Jake Parker, Lee White, and Will Terry take on listener questions — should you work with a small publisher, and what red flags should you look for? Should you track all your ideas and inspirations? Should you do spec work? Should you get more training if you already have an art following? Listen on as we tackle these questions and get you practical answers!

    Click here to listen and read the shownotes.



  • I'm a schoolteacher, and when a colleague saw that I could draw she excitedly said that I might be the artist for her book. I asked what her book was about, just to be polite. A mother and daughter learn that blah blah blah.

    She asked to see more of my art, and said she'd consider me but there was a big artist interested - and it turned out to be a local artist I knew and everyone in my town knows as the best local cartoonist. I didn't show her any of my art, and tried to let her know I wasn't really interested

    She kept going on about how it was her retirement plan, to become an author. I asked if she was going to pay whatever artist she hires, and she got a cross look on her face, then kind of laughed and said when the book makes money the artist would get paid.
    Yikes.

    Afterwards I laughed to myself how cliché of a moment that was in every illustrator's life. I vowed to never, ever take anything like that on. No matter what.



  • @kylebeaudette My first job "opportunity" was like that. The author didn't really have a plan for payment or a contract, and never really pursued me again until they found out I was working with another local author. Now they want me to contact them and explain how to get books published through places like Amazon. Which, unfortunately, I'm not an authority figure on since I just hand my drawings off to the author, who publishes. it. But the whole thing has struck me as odd about how much leg work the author wanted me to do without a clear idea of what their end goal should be.

    At least my current client pays me flat out for the production of my illustrations. We both know it's not making money any time soon so we didn't even have a "when the book makes money" conversation.



  • @kylebeaudette omg it is sooooo cliche, isn’t it? It’s happening to me a lot. If I could be paid for all this non paid work, I’d be rich hahahaha.



  • @lpetiti god, now asking you to do some research for them. It's hard to be patient with people who don't realize they are walking talking clichés, but I guess we have to.



  • @kylebeaudette definitely. Especially when this is not my full time job and its been I think 6 years since they initially contacted me about the book idea. Oh. And not to mention they had been working with someone in the publishing business before (no idea who) they decided to go Amazon.

    So many questions pop up. It's a friend of my dads that I've known for a long time so at least I know itd lack of experience more than anything else. Still...not my job



  • I've not had much interaction with people in the art world compared to my other contract work, so take it with a grain of salt 🙂

    The biggest thing that's kept me out of doing work for free so far has been a combination of practicing sounding like the person that knows the most in the room and following up every request with a qualifier for what that will take.

    If someone says something like "I think we'd really like to expand in that direction" the first thing I saw is something like "Not a problem at all. Based on similar things I've done in the past in that vein, we're probably looking at an additional 'x' amount of hours. Once we get done here I'll send you a quick tally to see what the cost differences will be". It becomes pretty clear that there is an investment and you know almost immediately if they're serious enough to spend more on it or if we want to put it in a phase 2 or something like that 😛


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