Working with self publishing authors



  • Does anyone have any experience or advice working with self-publishing authors for children's books? I am currently working with an author who is a former teacher of mine to illustrate, but I kind of feel like I have no idea what I'm doing! I'm writing up a contract to establish general expectations, copyrights, things like that. But I just want to make sure I include everything I need to and make everything very clear. Do any of you have any advice as far as pricing, royalties, and copyrights?



  • @Rebecca-Moye There was a similar post not too long ago, and there was some really good comments, including from Lee White, that you might find helpful: https://forum.svslearn.com/topic/9360/should-i-or-shouldn-t-i-take-the-risk



  • @ajillustrates Ok, thanks so much!





  • In the past, the Freelancer's Union blog has helped me with tightening up contracts. I believe they have a template you can work with.



  • @TessaW Thanks so much, I'll definitely check those out!



  • In my little experience, self publishing authors think they need full copyright of the illustrations, so essentially a work for hire job. If that is the case the fee should cover all of your time and then some.

    I'm not sure royalties would be an option with self publishers.

    One option is to offer a license for your illustrations like 3 - 5 years. So if they want to continue to sell the book after that period you would could renegotiate.

    Ask about where they want to sell the book. A small publisher might offer a small amount of money and say it is just a small print run and only being sold in a certain area. So that should be stiplulated in the contract because if they change their mind afterwards, then the premise of paying very little should be revisited.

    hope some of that helps.



  • Working with my self-published author, I realized pretty soon that she'd have to sell a couple thousand copies of the book on Amazon before she made back what she paid me, much less my receiving any royalties.

    What I did find helpful was that, even though the author own the rights to the book (obviously) I believe my contract states that I am free to use the images separately for my own portfolio, gallery displays, etc. I'm not 100% certain if I'd be able to license the characters (I believe it is spelled out in my contract), but what was reassuring to me was that I am still able to use the work I created.



  • Make your own contract or modify one. Things to include:
    Ownership of works(you own it until paid for in full).
    Pay schedule (money down, pay milestones and final payment due usually I make this payment in full before finals are delivered).
    Dissolution of contract( a way out for client and you if things go south who is going to pay what for percentage of work complete).
    Scope of work and project creep(what you will do and set number of revisions; and what will happen if things change.)
    There are boilerplate contracts out there for just about everything; that you can modify for your needs.


  • SVS Instructor Pro

    This thread caught my eye this morning and I wanted to comment on a suggestion made above

    "Ownership of works(you own it until paid for in full)."

    Fundamentally this is a good idea, but I want to suggest a distinction. I suggest illustrators don't "transfer" "ownership" to your images. Retaining ownership of your copyright(s) is a good business practice in general, and for picture books it is standard business practice. What you are looking to do is "license" "rights" (typically some portion of your copyright) to the illustrations.

    While it is possible to "transfer ownership" of your copyrights, the potential value of your copyright is so high as to make it cost prohibitive for clients. Instead you want to license a client only the specific rights they are going to actually use AND can afford right now.

    More expansive rights can be licensed as the project becomes more successful and the budget becomes available.

    So what I would suggest instead is that: "The Grant of Rights (the limited and specific license) does not go into effect until you are paid in full."


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