How much should I charge?

  • Hi guys,
    so basically I landed a potential job with a very well established author. They have worked in the industry for over 20 years but only recently started self publishing. They have only worked with industry professional illustrators, but through a twist of fate I was recommended to them by a close friend. So The job will be Illustrating just a cover I believe, and maybe some black and white illustrations inside. I wanted to know what you guys would charge for just a cover alone for a children's book?
    I know everyone will have different rates but I could just use something as a jumping off point.
    As the author is very experienced and worked with a lot of professionals I don't want to look amateur by charging too cheap, but I don't want to charge too much as there was a reason they wanted someone with less experience doing the book.

    Any help at all would be great, thanks guys x

  • Pro

    Will Terry has a very good Youtube video about pricing that explains a lot of the stuff you should take into account to decide for a price. I highly recommend you find it and give it a listen! Some of those things include:
    -How long will it take you to make? (ask as many questions as possible to be able to determine that)
    -How much creative freedom will you have?
    -How much fun will you have doing it?

    Etc. Those are all things you should consider, but also when you're ready don't hesitate to give her a first price a bit higher that that - worst thing that could happen is she'll negotiate down.

    Personally if I were in your shoes, I think I'd probably the author for an hourly rate kind of deal. Since it's only the cover, it's a small-ish project but in my experience it has a lot of possibility for scope creeping. That's when the client keeps changing their mind and making you change things until the price you're getting paid definitely isn't worth it anymore. Authors often want a cover to look just right, so it often happens that they'll request several tweaks (covers and tattoo designs are the worst in that aspect!). An hourly rate protects you against that. But again, there are many ways to do this and you should evaluate all the factors to make a decision that's god for you. That's only what I would do and I'm sure you'll get replies from other artists who would do something completely different!

    Good luck with the project and congrats!

  • Pro SVS OG

    The industry standard for covers is between 1000 and 5000 USD (though I’m sure there are people who price above and below that). In their cover course, Lee and Jamie Zollars say it shouldn’t be below 2000, but I’ve been offered 1000 from an established UK publisher, so obviously it goes below that (I had to pitch too, and didn’t get the job in the end). I would advise against doing hourly rates in illustration for any job - it positions illustration in the category of handywork, and you would not want that: you open the door to clients who treats you as hired hands.
    The common going is to specify a maximum number of revisions (one or two at the sketch phase and one at the final phase) as well as the number of options you’re going to offer (for covers generally more than one - I normally offer five or six options as sketches). Make it clear that more revisions will be charged extra.
    For B&W interiors there are going rates too - the one that was in the contract with this UK publisher I mentioned before was around 70 USD/drawing, but I’m sure that is at the lower end. Why don’t you write an e-mail to Jamie Zollars, here at SVS. She teaches the cover course and she his a specialist on covers and interiors.

  • Pro

    @smceccarelli I was certain other people would come in with an completely different view on that one hihi 🙂 I agree with you that charging by the hour can position yourself differently and I also would never do it with publishers! Working directly with an author though, I find that it's a very different experience where an hourly rate can be very positive... A lot of authors already tend to view illustrators as handy workers - because it's their project, their baby, and they view themselves as the creative force behind the project and the illustrator as a means to an end (not all of them!!). In this instance, having an hourly rate can make them understand the value of your time better, and they can also end up giving you more freedom and avoid many revisions that would skin them alive. The problem with setting a maximum of revision when working directly with authors is that they can be picky and you run the risk of them running through all their available modification rounds and leave with a cover they're not completely satisfied with - and in that case you can be sure they won't recommend you to anyone else!

  • @nessillustration Thank you so much for the help! I'll make sure to watch those videos again and think about breaking the price down in terms of hours etc. thank you!

  • @smceccarelli Thank you for the tips! That was really helpful. I'll see if i can contact that teacher, I've not seen that class on here either.

    Also on a side note I just need to say, your artwork is AMAZING, so talented, im just in awe of your website ❤

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