Upwork is ****** up


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @NessIllustration A 24 page book is physically possible (a pagecount divisible by 4)
    but not something that I've often come across. Out of curiosity can I ask what publishers you are working with that create 24 page projects? Are these "trade picture books", that is hardcovers with separate endpages, dust jackets and the like? Or are they educational projects? (designed for use in schools and other learning environments)


  • Pro

    @davidhohn Because of my vector style, my work is considered too young for the traditional 32-page picture book. I do younger markets, 0-6 years old. My most recent book was a 24-page soft cover with Sourcebooks. Other times I do board books but those don't really apply to this conversation because the binding is completely different and they can do weird amounts of pages if they wish 🙂


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @NessIllustration Right! And if you are doing a softcover likely it is perfect-bound right? Perfect binding does allow for the inclusion of 2 pages at a time. Same with board books as you mentioned.


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @Michael-Angelo-Go As you can see there are variations in how books are put together. But it's important to know the industry standards so that when you are presented with a project that deviates from the "standard" you can use the knowledge to determine if you are potentially working with a viable project. Especially with a site like UpWork which attracts inexperienced clients looking for cheap freelancers.

    In the case of your OP a 22 page picture book would be an immediate red flag. Not that a pg count like that would be a deal breaker (see my conversation with @NessIllustration above), just that it is outside the norm and I'd want to know how the book was going to be constructed. This would be important because say you started the project and 3/4 of the way thought the client discovered "Hey, turns out you CANT make a 22 page book!"

    The chances the client simply cancels the project are quite high and you are out all the time and money you've invested.


  • Pro

    @davidhohn Uhmm I'd have to check but I don't think they are perfect bound. I believe the minimum number of pages to allow for perfect binding is higher than 24.


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @NessIllustration Fair enough. I'd simply be surprised if a soft cover book was stitched. If they sent you illustrator copies should be easy enough to check.


  • Pro

    @davidhohn I haven't yet received my author copies for that one (doesn't come out until the Spring), but I went to check my older 24 page books and they do actually look perfect bound! It's just sheets folded once and glued into the spine, right?


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @NessIllustration Probably, yeah. I know that you can perfect bind single pages together into a book but they are really delicate.

    I was just looking at some the paperback/softcover picture books in my library. These are all paperback versions of books that started out as trade picture books so they are 32 pages + endpapers long. To me they look like two signatures (each signature probably stitched together) that have been glued (perfect bound) to the thicker paper that makes up the cover.

    So I bet there are a variety of different ways each publisher, and their preferred printer, put the books together.


  • Pro

    @davidhohn Still, you are right that 22 pages is very unlikely. Unless he meant 22 illustrated pages and he plans to add additional blank pages, or credit pages, or something.



  • @NessIllustration yeah I have no clue about that, they didn't elaborate any further than that.

    Also what are other things I should watch out for when it comes to newcoming authors? Like CMYK printing?


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    @Michael-Angelo-Go All printing is CMYK printing. No need to worry about that.

    Things to watch out for (not deal-breakers exactly, but definite warning signs):

    • If the author is both the editor and art director
    • Requests to do sample pieces without payment.
    • Situations in which the author says any variation on the following phrase: "This character is based on my mom/dad/grandmother/dog/highschoolboyfriend, soooooo can you make it look like them?"


  • @davidhohn Ooh this was for a book about a dog character based on their own actual dog.


  • Pro

    @Michael-Angelo-Go Oh goodie. Will Terry explained very well on his Youtube channel why this is terrible. He says that it's not something that improves the book for the readers (who don't even know the dog/daughter/grandma) so it's purely for the author's personal pleasure, they are not thinking objectively about what a book needs to be successful and they are not prioritizing the right things. And then because they intimately know that dog/daughter/grandma in real life, they are usually extremely picky and a pain in the ass about it and it leads to countless tweaks (My grandma has slightly bigger eyebrows. She looks a tad too cheerful, in real life she didn't smile that wide. She wouldn't wear this daffodil pattern shirt, she didn't like daffodils.) This adds a lot of work to the project, without adding any value for the readers who don't give a damn about this stuff.


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    Ooh this was for a book about a dog character based on their own actual dog.

    @Michael-Angelo-Go ^OF COURSE it was . . .^
    Pretty sure you dodged a bullet there.

    But starting out there's no way to know this stuff -- unless you go through it yourself (never fun) -- or ask people who have already made the mistake (sooo much better for you, and the mistake-er gets to feel like they are being helpful. A win-win!)



  • @davidhohn Now that I think about it, isn't it true that every self-publishing author is "both the editor and art director"? Because if so I already my mistake with that one with my previous client on Upwork, they were a hassle. I do not want to say anything bad about them, but let's just say they asked for so many revisions due to a lack of clarity, to a point that they asked for even more revisions after I was rated, i.e. the contract is over. And they had the audacity to give me an attitude about it and call me rude when I kindly explained to them that I would willingly still help them, but have them know that in mind.



  • @NessIllustration Ooh which video is that?



  • @Michael-Angelo-Go Not sure which video, but the podcast had a great early episode about it: "10 Reasons I Won't Illustrate Your Children's Book"

    https://www.svslearn.com/news/2018/6/27/10-reasons-i-wont-illustrate-your-childrens-book

    They talk about a lot of this in that episode!


  • Pro



  • I learned a lot reading this thread. Thank you guys



  • Hi, @davidhohn, @Michael-Angelo-Go & @NessIllustration -- just thought I'd add a little clarification since I did (unfortunately) start out my freelancing art career on Elance (now Upwork -- NOT something I'd recommend, but that's a different story and at the time I needed a paycheck).

    YES, Upwork is a nonnegotiable work-for-hire situation -- lousy terms. However, all the clients that I worked with on Upwork were more than happy to give me permission to show the artwork in my portfolio. (And honestly, that's all I would've used that artwork for anyway.)

    Yes, the client probably did say 22-page book, and yes, they probably didn't know what they were doing. This is VERY common to see with newbie self-publishing authors.

    And yes, self-publishing clients are the "boss", the editor, and the art director. Most of my clients had very little knowledge about the illustration process or the process of publishing a book, and most had no art experience. It does make the process a little challenging, to say the least.

    A note about 24-page books. Most self-published authors choose to publish their books using print-on-demand services like KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and Ingram Spark, which have a minimum page count of 24. PODs have different printing specs since they print books using inkjet printers rather than offset printers. They print in multiples of 4: 24, 28, 32 pages, etc. Both KDP & Ingram Spark require the last page of a book to be left blank for their use. So if you're hired to illustrate a 24-page PB that will be POD, you actually deliver 23 pages of content, as page 24 needs to be kept blank.

    Hope this helps clear things up -- or muddy the waters???


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