First Time Book Illustration Gig!



  • Hello SVS, I've just received an email from a potential client that is interested in my portfolio and most like a sample of my illustrative work for her dog-children's book story.

    I've poked my head in and out of this illustration realm, and I have pushed my drawing skills and I'm now getting prospects from people I've never met. It's so exciting and daunting at the same time!

    I'm wondering, do you all have a list of professional advice I could glean from so that 1. I don't get myself into a mess with the customer, and 2. so that I can do the best work possible for potential/future work?
    I'm thinking, "What is the most professional thing to do when talking about money?", "How do I set up a contract?", "Should I even MAKE a contract?!", and "What questions should I ask or avoid?"

    For context, this is ALSO this client's first book. So in theory, they trying this out for the first time too. They've stated they have a couple more story ideas outlined.
    I want to be the best that I can for this customer, so that I can grow, and help them be successful.

    Thanks! Spam me with your advice!



  • Hello Alex, congrats! I'm sorry to pop your bubble but I've been there too: a potential client contacts you with so much excitement to make a book and after you ask the right questions they are more likely to disappear... (it happened at least 4 times I can remember now).
    Usually it's because they don't know how much it costs so I always try to get a number from the client so you know if it's worth your time or not. Also I ask number of illustrations (pages + cover), if it's colored or B&W, deadline... all the information you should know to estimate a budget.
    If you think you can work with the budget he answers (if he answers any number) I would start negotiating. Usually the illustrator would price higher than he expects to earn and usually the clients tend to go lower. Will Terry has an amazing video about this.
    Money is not everything but don't let them take advantage of your inexperience.
    There are other interests that may compensate a low budget. That's only up on you. But make sure you are comfortable with the project otherwise it will become a nightmare.

    Yes, you should definitely make a contract where everything is specified so there are no surprises in the future.
    Hope this helps and someone with more experience gives you more tips 🙂



  • @Alex-Wilkins said in First Time Book Illustration Gig!:

    I'm thinking, "What is the most professional thing to do when talking about money?", "How do I set up a contract?", "Should I even MAKE a contract?!", and "What questions should I ask or avoid?"

    You set up a contract by finding a template and changing it to suit your needs. The graphic artist's guild has one that's good enough to alter to suit your needs (and gives you an idea of things to ask the client, too).

    Yes, unless the client makes a contract, you should absolutely make a contract. Like, 100% yes have a contract. Seriously, have a contract.

    A few questions to ask could revolve around deadlines, size and formatting, whether the client is thinking of royalties vs. a flat fee.

    Good luck with negotiations! I always find hammering out a contract a tad nerve wracking 🙂


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