Handling Revision Requests made by Publisher - Advice much desired!
I'm hoping for some advise on how to handle this situation.
A few months ago I worked on the first title in a book series of minimum 3 titles that I signed onto with a decently big Publisher. I really love the project, and I am getting royalties from the first copy sold so I am naturally very hopeful that these books will sell well.
After we concluded the project, my editor has come back a few times with some revision requests or additional requests. First it was separating out text from the images that they hadn't known to be a requirement, then I was asked to remove a character from an image entirely because it was noticed that they shouldn't be in the scene, and now I am being asked to revisit the cover because they had additional feedback from external distributors.
I'm curious how revisions like this should be handled. Revision conditions are not covered in the contract at all, and from how these requests have been formulated to me I am not obliged to make them (at least it's been formulated in such a way that I'd be doing them a big favour.) Of course, I want the project to go well and the book to be as good as it can be, so I am happy to do them.
The first two requests have also only taken me about an hour each, so it wasn't that much fuss. The cover I fear might be a bit more complex and require a lot of chopping and repainting, but even there I am usually confident that I can do fast work.
So I was wondering how other illustrators would handle requests like this long after the project has been approved and paid for - would you ask for additional compensation and go through the potential hassle of working out the billing for that, even if it might only take an hour or so to do the job? Or would you just do it for the sake of the project quality and the good working relationship?
@Nathalie-Kranich Hi, Nathalie! First off, congratulations on landing this job. Do you have an agent? Perhaps you can talk to them about charging your client. Though if it were me, I would just do the revisions for free given that they're small changes and nothing too complex
lpetiti last edited by
I'd say that since you assumed the project was completed, the additional notes should warrant a small fee. It seems like this has the potential to snowball into a "design by committee" situation. The editor should have caught these before they were finalized, so I'm curious as to who is giving the feedback and why?
@Nyrryl-Cadiz Thanks! I don't have an agent, no. (If I did I'd agree to make the most of them since their commission would likely be way more expensive than doing the revisions XD) But yeah, I'm in a similar boat where I'm normally just inclined to agree to do them.
@lpetiti This cover has been a tough one from the start, because there always seemed to be more feedback when it moved up to a new department. In this case they're going to be discussing the book in a bi-annual meeting in a large round where they discuss the program, and the people responsible for selling the books on to book stores have had some more input. The problem is mostly that they want to change their own treatment and placement of the title-text, and to optimize this elements of the picture have to move. (A decision I generally greatly support because I think the new layout idea is much better. But as you say, I'd also agree this could have been caught earlier XD)
@lpetiti good point
Melissa Bailey 0 last edited by
If you don't have an agent and revisions are not even mentioned in the contract, this might be something you want to talk to the editor about.
It sounds like they are asking for revisions to finished illustrations that have already been approved and paid for. In that case, if it was me, I would ask to be compensated for the time it takes to make the revision, since this would be additional work not specified in the contract. But I'm not in your shoes and don't know the particulars of your situation. You'll be in the best position to gauge what the publisher will accept and what is fair for you.
What I will say is -- I've been in similar situations before. And in one of those situations, because I didn't specify the number of revisions in the contract, it ended up costing me and boy did I learn from it! Now I make sure that contracts specify the number of revisions on sketches and what happens if revisions are requested after an illustration is approved and paid for. (Hint: the client has to pay for anything not covered under the contract, as the price is based on the work described in the contract. Any extra work should cost extra.)
So far, it has been my experience that most clients are fair -- they're not out to take advantage of illustrators and they appreciate honesty and open communication. If you have questions or feel that the contract may need to be amended to cover revision requests, it seems that having a friendly conversation with them might actually contribute to maintaining a good working relationship. Everyone being on the same page is always a good thing.
Miriam last edited by
I don't have any experience, so this is just my thoughts / opinion —
It seems like if they are asking for more work, you should be compensated for your time & work.
Something to think about, though — you want them to remember you as someone easy to work with, so they'll want to hire you for future projects. If you you decide to contact them to negotiate a price for the revisions, you might want to offer to waive the price of the smaller changes, so they'll feel like you're being generous and working with them. (You could mention this to help ease into the price discussion, or you could hold back & offer to waive this part of the fee after giving them the cost for all of it, or if they give you any resistance.)
Good luck! Either way, I hope the book does well!
I know deep down you're all very right, and I'm probably just going to have to have that uncomfortable conversation. I hope since I already have done some free revisions for them without complaint I have garnered enough good will to broach the topic carefully.
I'm only honestly not sure what I'd do in response to a "No" - since after all I do want to make the changes.
xin li last edited by xin li
@Nathalie-Kranich It is a really tricky thing to balance.
I have had all kinds of situations regarding revisions.
With my Norwegian editors in the past, I talked to her openly about what is an accept revision and what type of extra work will require extra change fees. I think it worked well. She seems to be very reasonable and understanding.
When working in the English language market, there was an episode regarding the revision which was outrageous in my opinion (I am not going to detail here). Coming from the design consulting world, I had to say I felt a culture shock when that happened. To me the shock was less about the among of extra work I was asked to do with no extra pay, but more the way and the condition I was asked to do the work.
Having an agent that will speak for you makes a HUGE difference. If you have not signed with an agent yet, make sure to discuss handling revisions when you are in a conversation with an agent and considering signing.
Good to be having this conversation. I hope I can add some to what has already been said here.
For these particular changes, I wouldn't even think to put up a fight. These are common and should be expected. You wouldn't believe how many revisions I've had to do on books. My last one had at least 40-50 different things I was asked to change. Most I did without any worry. But a few I pushed back on which I'll go into more detail next.
The way to have the conversation about changes is to bring up the reason that things are being changed or the reason that they should stay the same. Changes I push back on are ones where I say "I drew it this way because I wanted the scene to feel like _____________." Or "This character should stay this way due to them being a particular way."
The wording I like to use is to really lay into the word "SUGGEST". Example: "I'd like to suggest that we keep it this way because the characters need to blah blah blah". You can also use "WHAT IF" a lot. Example: "What if we keep the characters on this page, but move the type to the next spread?" etc. Remember that it's a conversation, not an order. You need to understand why they are asking for what they are asking for. They want you to be happy with the art. Many times they just don't know how to properly ask for what they want, so it just sounds like an order.
Once you do that, then have them outline the particular concern and then you can solve what that concern is in a way you feel comfortable with. I have redone full spreads because I think there is a better way to solve it than what they are asking for.
Pick your battles wisely. If it's something pretty easy or doesn't change the content or story too much, I just make the change and move on.
Good luck! : )
@Lee-White Thanks Lee! Can I ask if this is your approach for within the duration of the project, or even for after? Whilst the project is ongoing I am in the same boat that I would discuss artistic decisions in a conversation and generally make endless changes that I believe would benefit the overall product.
The crux of the matter here was that everything was signed-off, concluded and paid for, and revisiting the project is now cutting into other projects I have moved onto.
I thought I'd give everyone an update too, since maybe how this turned out is interesting for anyone in a similar boat.
I opted to reply yesterday and very cautiously asked if I might be able to charge an hourly fee to cover my time. I didn't name a number, but really only had a small amount in mind, and made sure to mention that I am navigating this as a relatively debut illustrator and would appreciate their guidance on how they would normally handle something like this. (I figured if I gave them that out to say "we expect this normally", then I could go "Oh, new-Illustrator-me didn't know, that's fine" without too much extra argument. )
The response completely surprised me! I was offered a fair bit more money as a flat-fee than I would have dared to ask for myself, and my editor (who has been really wonderful all project, honestly), stressed that changes post sign-off and typography are an absolutely rare case for them, are avoided as much as possible, and that they are normally allowed to pay extra in such cases.
@Nathalie-Kranich Yay! so glad it worked out!
I didn't fully. understand the project was TOTALLY finished and done. Revisions are tricky to deal with any time for sure. I think you handled it great!
carlianne last edited by
@Nathalie-Kranich I'm so glad you decided to ask! I was going to say I don't think asking to be paid a bit extra for additional work is considered to be "hard to work with" or would damage your relationship so long as you were able to do it kindly. Unless you were working with an unprofessional publisher. But It sounds like you did it perfectly! ️
I'm so excited your books are doing well!
Melissa Bailey 0 last edited by
@Nathalie-Kranich thanks for giving us that update. So glad that it worked out for you and that you're continuing to have an awesome experience with this publisher!