Pitch Pick # 5 AND Oh Susanna: How Do You FInd And Pay For Illustrators?

Happy Monday Morning Everyone!

In case you need a little cuteness to start your week (or maybe spark a story) here is some cute overload for you 🙂

cute overload piglet 🙂

Doesn’t your day feel brighter and happier now?  Really, how could it not in the face of that extreme cuteness?! 🙂

I have about 30 things I want to share with you today, but that would really take too long, so I’m going to keep it down to 2.  (Very restrained of me, don’t you think?)

First, the December/January Pitch Pick.  Because of the holidays, we only had 2 pitches in December, so they’ve been added into January’s for the vote.

Here is your quick pitch pick refresher:  (try saying “quick pitch pick” three times fast, especially on Monday morning :))

#1 Christie 1

Working Title:  Draggin’ My Tail
Age/Genre: PB
The Pitch:  Orville the dragon loves to fly, but when he quits breathing fire, his wings fail him.  Orville has to figure out how to get his fire back so he can lift off again.
#2  Vicki
Working Title:  Finding Sophie
Age/Genre:  YA
The Pitch:  When Sophie is forced backward in time to 1895 Paris, she takes the identity of a missing Jewish girl and falls for a young Zionist. As the window home closes, Sophie must decide whether to unlock a mysterious heirloom’s secrets and return to her own life of a potential prima ballerina, or live as someone else in the past and lose herself forever.

#3  Abby
Working Title:  What If?
Age/Genre:  Early Picture Book (ages 2-5)
The Pitch:  Little Lucy has a vivid imagination which shines through all of the “what if” questions she asks about the world around her.  With her creative perspective on things, the world holds limitless possibilities for both her and the reader.

#4  Jane
Working Title:  Nana, I Miss You
Age/Genre:  Picture Book
The Pitch:  Jamie, who wants to spend time with his nana, is upset because she becomes seriously ill.  But her thoughtful gift, when she finally goes into a hospice, reveals her love and gives him a new interest.

#5  Margaret

Working Title:  Home Is Where The Bird Is
Age/Genre:  Picture Book
The Pitch:  Bird thought he found his perfect birdhouse – until he encountered the mouse living inside.  After a feather-raising experience house hunting on his own, Bird asks Mouse for help.  Mouse leads Bird on a hilarious tour of unconventional housing options.  As winter looms, will Bird accept anything but his perfect birdhouse?

#6  Christie 2

Working Title:  Solomon’s Raisin Farm
Age/Genre:  PB
The Pitch:  Last year, Solomon was finally old enough to help with the harvesting of the raisins, but it rained. This year, he prays for no rain so the crops won’t get ruined and the family can make money at the festival. Will the rain hold off this year so Solomon can finally prove to his family that he really is old enough to help out?

OY!  What a tough choice!  But please vote for your favorite below.

<a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/5889704/”>Pitch Pick #5</a>

The poll will be open until, oh, let’s say Wednesday Feb. 1 at 11:59 PM EST.  I think I can squeeze announcing the winner in with Friday’s Perfect Picture Book 🙂

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, our very first installment of Oh Susanna!  Wouldn’t you know the very first question to come in was a REALLY hard one!  One might even call it a doozy!  But I am too much of a play-by-the-rules type to skip it and start with an easier one 🙂 so here it is…

Joanna asks:

I have a manuscript that I have written for uTales (eBooks), and am struggling to find an illustrator as they are either too busy or don’t want to do the 50/50 standard uTales collaboration, but want money up front, which I do understand. I am not sure I want to go this route, but have been wondering where to go to find out how much one would pay an illustrator independently for a typical length PB? and what sort of contract would be drawn up? i.e. Who then owns the book etc?

Well, Joanna, you have asked a question that is out of the realm of my experience.  But here’s what I think:

I’m guessing the answer to this may be on a person-by-person basis.  Different people are going to feel comfortable with different arrangements.  I can understand why an illustrator would want to be paid up front – doing the illustrations would be a big investment of time and energy – but if that isn’t workable or comfortable for you perhaps it’s a question of finding an illustrator who is willing to work “on spec” so to speak.  Right in our own 12X12 group there are any number of talented illustrators.  Many more on LinkedIn.  Perhaps you can post (in Linked In groups, 12X12, Children’s Book Hub, etc.) that you’re looking for an illustrator willing to work on spec.  An illustrator who is looking to break into picture books might be more willing to wait for the pay off because of the opportunity for a publishing credit.  Even if the project doesn’t end up selling, the illustrator would  own the illustrations and could use them as part of his/her portfolio and will be able to show future interested parties that they are capable of producing a picture book length work.  If you’re up front about what you want, hopefully you’ll get responses from people who are interested in doing it that way.

As for the standard fee, I’d be very interested to know the answer to that too!  My experience to date has been with publishers who choose and pay for the illustrators, so I have not been involved in paying illustrators.  In traditional publishing, the deal is 50/50 – the author and the illustrator usually get the same amount (so I’m told :))  They get paid an advance and an agreed upon percentage of royalties.  The publisher keeps the percentage until the advance has earned out.  After that, the author and illustrator receive the royalties, usually twice a year.  (For clarity’s sake, if you get an advance of $1000 and a 5% royalty on a book that retails for $16.95, you’ll earn .85 for each book sold, so you have to sell about 1177 books to earn out your advance.  After that, you get .85 for every book sold delivered in a royalty check twice a year.)

For uTales it looks as though you must submit a completed ms along with illustrations, but that doesn’t guarantee uTales will accept your project.  Is that correct?  If they accept it, then you and the illustrator would each get 50%.  The problem, if I’m understanding, is if they don’t accept.  Then you have both put in a lot of time and effort for no publishing contract.  I’m guessing that is where your question about who owns what comes in.  I would think a fairly simple contract would suffice – you own the story and they own the illustrations.  However, if you have to pay for the illustrations up front for a project that doesn’t sell, than you have technically bought the illustrations and should own them.  Or if you pay up front for a project that does sell, you should get all the proceeds until your expense has ben covered.  Any deal is workable as long as you’re very clear about the parameters and both parties are happy with the arrangement.  If you reach the point of having a completed book that didn’t sell, however, nowadays you have the option of self-publishing.  There are many possibilities here, and if you and the illustrator agree to split proceeds 50/50 this could be another way the illustrator could end up getting compensation for his/her work. 

But Joanna and I would now both love to hear from all of you!!!  Have you hired an illustrator?  How did you handle the rights and payment?  Have you done a project for uTales or a similar entity?  How did you manage it?  Are you an illustrator?  What is your standard fee (or what have you heard is the going rate?)  Please share your knowledge and experience!  Joanna and I (and I’m guessing a lot of our readers, because this is a very interesting question!) will be eagerly awaiting your input!

52 thoughts on “Pitch Pick # 5 AND Oh Susanna: How Do You FInd And Pay For Illustrators?

  1. Jane Buttery says:

    For my Nana I miss you, I was referred to twin sisters who work together and who had never illustrated a book before. They set a price and were glad of the experience.Most of the drawings are done black and white and a few in colour – mainly added by the computer (afterwards). They took ages as they are OCD but the results are reasonable and they were glad of the money.
    In the past an illustrator friend and I have shared profits.

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