I have BORROWED my latest article from Kathy Temean’s Blog to share with you all here as well. I do hope you follow her and the ASK CAT Tuesdays once a month. (plus her other wonderful shared articles!) We will continue this offering as long as questions keep coming. It’s a pleasure of years of experience in the industry to now be able to share what I’ve learned a bit here and with Kathy’s blog. Our industry isn’t ‘brain surgery’, (or is it?) but it does have it’s own ways. Love comments too!
On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Catugeau Artist Agency will answer questions and talk about things illustrators need to know to further their career. It could be a question about an illustration you are working on, too. Please email your questions to me and put ASK CAT in the subject box.
Happy creative Oct! though summer does seem to want to continue endlessly this year ! Just as I’m going to ‘endlessly’ add on to my Aug. ‘ASK CAT’ about pricing and other market matters! We keep getting questions about particulars and that is GREAT!
1.) “considering taxes and rep commissions the $5000 for a picture book (or educational book) is more like $2500 or $3000?
Good of you to actually figure this out! and YES! gulp! Reps usually take 25% of fairly priced offers (some more) and yes if you are in the 25% tax bracket then together half of your fee will be going elsewhere. But you have the other half! You have work! You have more wonderful samples to show off so next time you can get a higher fee! For a normal trade picture book with a medium or large house the fee should be closer to $10,000 or more depending. But the % are the same. Have to note here: it is extremely hard to find educational work if you aren’t with an agent. Most is done through design studios they change often as do personnel and their clients and artistic needs. Even though fees and taxes DO hurt, you have the work and the earnings! And they are done FAST so you can do a lot of them…. more $$$.
2.) “do publishers pay illustrators in the typical ‘on signing’/upon delivery/upon publication’ payments over the course of two or more years, making the actual yearly earnings small.”
I have to speak to educational jobs first. Those are paid normally just once…when you get the finals in and they are accepted. But the payments are within 30 days almost always. For TRADE books, often they are the 3 payments…. on signing, at sketch stage, and at approval of finals. All paid normally within 30 days of invoice. Often publishers now will attempt to stretch the final payment until ‘on publication’ which does add a year. We try never to accept that, but without an agent you might have to. We don’t feel it’s fair. You complete a job…you should be paid.
As to ‘actual yearly earnings small’…. that is a relative statement as it depends on expectations, speed of work, and how much you can take on. This is most often a ‘free lance’ industry as I mentioned last month. Some artists by taking on overlapping trade and educational work can make a very good living at it. Many do editorial work and/or advertising jobs. Many also are fine artists and show in galleries and festivals. What is your energy level and tolerance? Be honest with yourself. Nothing is certain however. One year might be fabulous and the next year you are barely working. It IS a bit of a ‘labor of love’, but with good work ethic and determination, promotion, client follow through, and some sleepless nights you can make a living. (like Dan Santat…yes!)
3.) “…you mentioned for some trade projects can you negotiate for a royalty later. Should this be stated in the original contract?”
SORRY…you misunderstood my comment. You negotiate for a royalty at the beginning of a trade book project so it is in the contract. What I’d mentioned is that at times for a most successful series/chapter book/etc. that are often a flat fee (no royalty) to begin with, one might negotiate later for a small royalty due to the series success. This would NOT be in the original contract. It only happens when there has been great success and they wish the same illustrator to continue. (you then have negotiating leverage) After 4 or so in a series an artist might want to try and negotiate for a higher initial fee as well for the same reason.
4.) Sharon asks: “Would it be best for a professionally published artist/author to try for a LIT. REP for dummies? rather than a ARTIST REP? Have authored 1 book, but illustrated many books , mostly edu. and want to break free from that mold”
I have written on this subject before, but to make clearer yet…. this is a very personal decision. As Artist Agents predominately, we think we can represent the artist perhaps best for ALL their artistic endeavors…writing and illustrating. In fact we are dropping the ‘Artist’ in our agency name this next year. We’ve done both quite a few times, but not all Artist Agents do. So check that out as you research. Often a client who loves the art will WANT to see the dummy ideas…clammer for them in fact! Insider doorway! There is no reason one couldn’t present to TRADE outlets even though you have done mostly educational. BUT it will require a different LOOK/STYLE no doubt. That is up to YOU …not the agent.
Going with a LIT AGENT might be a good split though if you are looking for just the writing with a new style of art possibly too for that sort of work. Many’ Lit Agents’ do take on artist/writers now. I assume they have a good eye and knowledge of art to help guide the artist in you.
I have several more questions to answer in Nov. on this same track. Thank you for asking for the ‘closer details’ of the business of children’s book art! Happy to share….so do ASK!
Do send on more questions about our wonderful industry!!
Christina A. Tugeau Artist Agency LLC is the first mother/daughter agency in the business! A trained artist herself with a BA in Fine Art, Chris Tugeau has been in the children’s illustration industry for over 25 years. Since opening her own agency in 1994, Chris has enjoyed representing many talented artists, and has been an active part of the illustration community; writing and presenting for SCBWI regions around the country. She is also the author of SCBWI Illustrator Guidelines. A veteran artist and rep, Chris is an advocate for ethical fairness and the bright future of children’s publishing. She’s also a mother of 3, a grandmother to 8, and best friend to husband, Bill.
Chris and Christy, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer questions and helping everyone trying to build their careers in the children’s publishing industry. This was a terrific questions and a terrific answer. – Great article.
Please help keep this column going by sending in your questions.
Thank you Chris and Christy for more great answers.
NOW SIT DOWN AND WRITE UP YOUR QUESTIONS FOR “ASK CAT.”
Hope this illustration by Priscilla Burris will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy. http://www.priscillaburris.com/Priscilla.html
and Priscilla Burris is a ‘CAT’ artist of LONG standing! Her illustrated series HEIDI HECKLEBECK from Little Simon, which is now up to #25 at least, is the one I mention in the article about doing so well that we could negotiate a royalty later. It started as the more typical flat fee for this sort of b/w interior series. We love HEIDI and hope you all do as well. 😉