Illustrator Contract – Absolute MUSTS 

 May 26, 2020

I am very privileged to get to offer some advice from my experience publishing and writing children’s books, and one thing I am often asked about is working with illustrators and illustrator contracts in particular. 

“How do you find an illustrator?” and of course,

“What should you include in your illustrator contract?”

My suggestion is, do you research when you find one you like, or use an agency. 

 What to look for:
– work the illustrator has done before
– can they work within your timeline and budget?
– ask for a referral

So, assuming you've found the perfect illustrator and are getting serious about hiring them.  What is absolutely essential when drawing up an illustrator contract? 

Some of it is obvious, but here is a checklist I always refer to when I help my authors with their contracts:

Illustrator Contract Checklist

  • the date of completion
  • their price
  • pay half now, and half upon completionyour book’s dimensions (will you be doing an 8×10 picture book? 5×7? You need to know this before you sign a contract with an illustrator. You can research what works best for your target audience. I went to a bookstore and got a feel for the size of book I liked, then measured it! haha)
  • the specifics that your graphic artist/printer will need to prepare to go to print
  • include a story-board requirement so that you have an idea of what everything will look like, page by page, before they start on full illustrations. You can see an example of the story-board I got from my latest book, The Big, Bad Bully, above. Eva Morales was my very talented illustrator for The Big, Bad Bully, and it was published through HCI Books. 
  • and MOST IMPORANTLY make sure your illustrator contract states that you are hiring your illustrator (work-for-hire) and upon completion, you will own the copyrights to the illustrations. This means that you can use these illustrations in the future, as you see fit.

If you’re thinking, “What would I need the illustrations for?” think about merchandising. If you don’t own the rights to the illustrations, you will have to share a cut with your illustrator and come to an agreement. This is much more difficult after your book is a major success.

If you found this helpful, and would like to have me available to help you navigate these kind of negotiations (plus so much more, as you publish) consider joining my Publishing Mastermind.

I am accepting a few more authors for my Publishing Mastermind that is starting next week. I work with a small number of aspiring children's book authors in a one year mentorship. We focus on perfecting your story, we publish your book, and I also teach you how to market your book. 

The deadline in Friday, May 29th! I don't know when I will be offering it again. 

If you want to discuss being one of my new authors, shoot me a message! I'll be happy to arrange a time for us to talk.

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