I'm very fortunate to get the chance to offer some advice from my experience publishing and writing children’s books, and one thing I'm often asked about is working with illustrators in particular. 

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

“What should you include in your contract with your illustrator?”

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

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

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

  • the date of illustration's completion
  • the illustrator's price
  • pay half now, and half upon completion
  • specify your book’s dimensions
  • the technical specifics that your graphic designer will need
  • include a storyboard requirement
  • state that you are hiring your illustrator (work for hire) so you retain the rights to the illustrations after the work is completed.
  • Choosing your book’s dimensions: Will you be doing an 8x10 picture book? 5x7? You need to know this before you sign a contract with an illustrator. You can research what works best for your target audience. When I was first starting out, I went to a bookstore and got a feel for the size of book I liked, then I measured it! 
  • Why a storyboard requirement? A storyboard will give you a roughly illustrated overview of what your book will look like, page by page, before they start on full illustrations. 
  • Why hire your illustrator as "work-for-hire"?  This means that you can use these illustrations in the future, as you see fit because you will own the rights to the illustrations. 

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.

** IMPORTANT** this checklist is intended as a guideline to help with forming a contract with an illustrator ONLY, it is not meant to be used in place of legal advice.

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