Need some advice on an "offer"



  • Hello!

    I am looking for a bit of advice since I know here are many people with experience in collaborating with other people's projects. I haven't worked in any editorial project before except for a childrens book I made in the past for a contest.

    Recently I was contacted by someone who has the interest of starting an AR company making children's books, and he tells me that he would like to implement his idea, so he is in need for an illustrator.

    The idea is interesting and all but I think this person is considering that I create a story and make the illustrations for the book without any assured payment (something of about 12 pages), all is in the hopes that this project works out and then makes some revenue to pay me from there, he seems to have good intentions since he comments me that we could give more exposure to my work in exchange for this collaboration (he would be in charge of printing, making the AR app for the book and distributing the work).

    I have always read about how we should never accept these kind of jobs without any payment and the only reason why I am considering it the most is because it seems like he is willing to take any story I make for childrens and is giving me total artistic freedom in the book, so it looks like something that could also serve me as portfolio (in case there is no revenue at all). But I would have to set aside other projects in order to make the work that he is asking from me.

    Sorry if this seems a bit confusing, I don't know how usual are these kind of "offers" and if it's worth to even consider it. Have you had any similar experience in the past? What would you do in this situation?



  • There is always someone who is wanting to have an artist work for free.

    This is simply a self-publisher using an app instead of a printer. I always ask myself "why did they ask me?", is my work so amazing or unique that is would make the project stand out or am I the next one he came across as he tries to find anyone?

    if he is looking to create a AR app, He should have a development app that you can see.

    It comes down to are you willing to do a great amount of work for no return? That's your decision. If you do decide to pursue this make sure you have a contract that spells out the reproduction rights, ownership if the project actually happens but also if half way through it is killed.


  • Pro

    @Pam If the only plus is that you have complete artistic freedom of the story and art... you could also create this as a personal project and don't need him. Even though for you the outcome is the same, having someone take advantage of our work for their own gains without getting compensated can sour the whole experience.

    If it were me I would tell him: "This sounds like a great project and I'd love to participate, but after consideration I can't help but feel the terms are unreasonable for me. As a new company you have many new expenses - for instance, I would expect that you had to set up a working space with electricity, internet, computers and other working equipment. You have no doubt saved up money to afford these business expenses. This book you want to create is the same, it will take a lot of my time and resources to create and that is not free. If you truly think this will help your new company, set aside money to afford this business expense the same as you have done for your other expenses. This will in turn allow me to spend my undivided time, attention and creativity to your project, instead of being a last priority I do at the end of the day when everything else has been done and I'm tired. To spend quality time working on your project, I have calculated it would cost $5000 (insert your own figure here). Sadly, this is not negotiable. No matter how fun your projects sound, I simply cannot afford the luxury of spending that much time on hobby projects that are not sustaining me financially. My time is limited and valuable, and I need to focus on projects that pay the bills. This is not personal, I hope you understand."



  • @Pam Unless I'm reading this wrong, exposure is the only thing being offered. 100% hard NO in my opinion.

    In 99 out of 100 times, never ever work for "exposure" alone. That 1 case you might say yes is if let's say someone like Taylor Swift knocks on your door to illustrate her book. Someone like that has a big enough reach that would result in a bunch of work.

    What is the potential reach this person has to actually move the final book?? If it's possible they could actually sell several hundred copies, AND you don't have anything better to do, I'd ask for something like 30% of all sales. Plus, a limited license agreement. If they balk at that, I'd feel pretty good about that kind of door shutting.

    EDIT: or all the stuff Ness suggested lol



  • @Pam I am going to take a counter-point (sort of).

    I agree that you should not do it for free. But your potential partner appears to be creating a startup you may want to adjust your payment model. I would do as @NessIllustration suggests and say "I have calculated it would cost $5000(insert your own figure here)" but use that as negotiation for options and licensing.

    In terms an entrepreneur would understand, you are putting in "sweat equity" and for that, you should be compensated. He can either compensate you with cash OR if you are willing to take the risk he can compensate you with equity in the company.

    But do not allow yourself to be compensated by "exposure". I can guarantee no startup will be able to compensate you in that manner effectively (most large industry players would struggle to do that).


  • Pro

    @theprairiefox and @jdubz bring up good points! Start with asking money but if they cannot afford it, you can instead ask as they have suggested (if you are comfortable with and interested in) for a large royalty on the book (like 50%, you're doing all the work after all) or even equity in the company as Prairie Fox has suggested.



  • Perhaps a consideration - is this exposure (with possible royalties) more or less valuable than full royalties on your own personal project that you put out into the world yourself? Also, working on your own timeline and with your own quality standards can be very different than submitting your work to somebody else... I have not been in this situation myself, but I wish you all the best on your decision!


  • SVS OG

    @Pam hell no. He doesn’t even bother to offer to pay you in the future? And for what? Exposure? First of all, how many followers does he even have? 1 million? Or zero? Even the exposure part is uncertain. Don’t do it. If you want to make portfolio pieces, you’re better off making your own products and selling it yourself. Please excuse my bluntness.


  • SVS OG

    @NessIllustration very well said


  • SVS OG

    @Pam if they’re that serious in this project, then, they’ll come up with the money for your fee. They can’t just start a business and expect another person to make the product for them for free.


  • Pro

    @Pam Yeah all things to consider... Personally, even if I can negotiate royalties I wouldn't do it for a new company with no track record... You don't know if they're able to sell anything. The very fact they're offering you to work for exposure when as a new company, they likely have no network, no followers, no nothing, is real iffy to me. It doesn't bode well if they don't realize that as a startup, their number 1 challenge will be getting exposure for THEMSELVES. I don't know, they give me the vibe of people who think they can just put something on the app store and people will flock to it just because it's there. "Make it and they will come" is the biggest lie on the planet. I'm not sure they realize this and if they don't, they won't last long enough to send you a royalties check...



  • @jimsz said in Need some advice on an "offer":

    re is always someone who is wanting to have an artist work for free.
    This is simply a self-publisher using an app instead of a printer. I always ask myself "why did they ask me?", is my work so amazing or unique that is would make the project stand out or am I the next one he came across as he tries to find anyone?
    if he is looking to create a AR app, He should have a development app that you can see.
    It comes down to are you willing to do a great amount of work for no return? That's your decision. If you do decide to pursue this make sure you have a contract that spells out the reproduction rights, ownership if the project actually happens but also if half way through it is killed

    Thank you very much for the answer, I really appreciate it. I guess I'm just going to say "Thanks but no thanks", somehow I had this in mind but I tend to doubt myself in these kind of situations. Yeah, I'm definately not willing to spend more of my time in this.



  • Thank you for all the advice @NessIllustration . I'm grateful to know about this community since I had no one else to ask about it.

    I will consider telling him a price range for what this person wants, a bit hard to calculate since he isn't asking for anything specific. But probably my answer will end up being a "No thanks".



  • @jdubz said in Need some advice on an "offer":

    @Pam Unless I'm reading this wrong, exposure is the only thing being offered. 100% hard NO in my opinion.
    In 99 out of 100 times, never ever work for "exposure" alone. That 1 case you might say yes is if let's say someone like Taylor Swift knocks on your door to illustrate her book. Someone like that has a big enough reach that would result in a bunch of work.
    What is the potential reach this person has to actually move the final book?? If it's possible they could actually sell several hundred copies, AND you don't have anything better to do, I'd ask for something like 30% of all sales. Plus, a limited license agreement. If they balk at that, I'd feel pretty good about that kind of door shutting.
    EDIT: or all the stuff Ness suggested lol

    Thank you for your suggestions, I understand, I will have this in mind in the future just so I don't have doubts about these kind of offers. I really appreciate your advice and will try to negotiate a payment. If I don't get anything it's not a big loss to let this "Opportunity" go.



  • Thanks for the advice @jdubz

    I see, there are still a lot of things that I need to learn about licensing, but I will try to talk about a payment agreement with him in case this person is willing to pay in any case. Thanks, I won't consider exposure as a compensation for these kind of projects in the future.



  • @KathrynAdebayo said in Need some advice on an "offer":

    tion - is this exposure (with possible royalties) more or less valuable than full royalties on your own personal project that you put out into the world yourself? Also, working on your own timeline and with your own quality standards can be very different than submitting your work to somebody else... I have not been in this situation myself, but I wish you all the best on your decision!

    Thank you for your answer to my post. You are right, this exposure is not any more valuable than having full royalties on my personal projects, I got caught up because this idea was attractive and forgot to see it from that perspective.



  • I appreciate your bluntness @Nyrryl-Cadiz , you are right, I'll talk to him about a price range for what he is asking for and see the response. Thank you.


  • Pro

    @Pam It's always worth trying 🙂 I was recently hit up for a book for a local publisher at super low budget and told them "I can do it for minimum insert more than twice the amount they were offering. I was full expecting to hear "nevermind then" but to my surprise, they said they'd look into it and try to find more money. You never know!



  • @Pam have you asked him what other apps he's worked on and have any of them been financially successful? When I watch Dragon's Den or Shark Tank people who come on making a mobile app need to plow in 100-250k just to get the thing off the ground. To develop an app like Uber costs around $115,000 (Android and iOS) - that's just the tech. An AR Children's book app isn't going to be simple. But if he's made other apps and got a proven track record might be worth a look.



  • Hello @sigross

    Unfortunately this person seems to be just starting to get into the making of apps for AR, so he doesn't seem to have a portfolio to prove his apps have been successful.


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