Questions to ask about book project.

  • I'm talking with an author of a book today who is interested in hiring me for the illustrations. It's the first time speaking with her, so other than the obvious questions like "Can you tell me about your book?", schedule, budget, style preference, are there other questions that would be important to ask? Any red flags I should look out for? Thanks!

  • @Laurel-Aylesworth Exciting 🙂 Is it a self-publishing project? I would bring up the copyright question. I would also like to know how the author is going to market the book, and what is going to be the first print run roughly.

    Regarding to style, I found it very helpful to ask the question "which image on my website made you want to hire me for this particular project?". With my first client, I also find explaining my process helps the communication go smoothly. I took a book cover project I did before and showed her the rough sketch, color study and final art on one page. This way I can be sure we are on the same page when I say "rough sketch", "color study". Also, the client can see what a final piece looks like when it is a rough sketch.

    Hope this makes sense.

  • @xin-li These are excellent ideas. Thanks!

    I forgot to answer your question. Yes, it's a self-published project which I'm normally not excited about, but the subject matter is something I couldn't pass up.

  • Pro

    @Laurel-Aylesworth You and @xin-li have covered the basics for the questions to ask in the beginning 🙂 I would add to not delay talk about the budget and start with that. I used to think it was callous to ask right away about the money and spent a lot of time asking about the project, reading scripts, asking questions about style and schedule before I finally got down to ask about their budget. Result? Well, I've yet to actually take on a self-published book, so that should tell you how that went... I've come to realize it's quite a waste of time to ask a thousand questions beforehand only to find out their budget is $200 for 24 pages. Some authors will have a reasonable budget, but they're few and far between, so it's a good idea to get this deal-breaker question out of the gate first, and then take it from there 🙂

  • @NessIllustration Good advice. I watched Will Terry's youtube video on pricing and one of his points is to try and get the client to offer up an initial number and go from there, which I'm aiming to do. And I have to say as a woman, I tend to shy away from being direct about money...which I am stopping as of today.

  • Since it is self-publishing, maybe change requests is something that needs to be addressed. I do not know how to properly do this, but you need to find a way to communicate that it is not OK to have an endless revision loop. I would like to hear how others handling this.

    If you do get to do the project, I remember one thing the 3 point perspective podcast has mentioned regarding to set the deadline:

    • Only set a specific date for the first delivery (e.g. date for hand in rough sketches).
    • The rest of the milestone/ deadline will be something like: x weeks after you confirm the sketches.

    I am definitely going to use this in my next contract. It will definitely be less stressful for the artist because you never know how long would it take you to get the feedback after you hand in sketches.

  • Moderator

    @xin-li regarding changes. I haven’t had experience with this as an illustrator BUT have had loads of experience as a designer. I will usually give a client one chance to look closely and think hard about the changes because anymore after that will be considered “change orders” and will be charged as such. I think that this is reasonable, because I spend a lot of time beforehand discussing what the client wants. I have gone soft if it’s a good client and given more leeway on changes but not if it’s someone I haven’t worked with before.

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