There are a handful of questions that writers will ask me time and time again. One of those commonly-asked questions is how to work with an illustrator. Of course, first you'll have to find one. But once you've decided on an artist who fits your needs, you'll need to present an illustrator contract.
7 Absolute Musts for Your Illustrator Contract
Whether you write up an illustrator contract yourself or work with a lawyer, you'll want to make sure your contract includes everything it needs to best serve you. In my experience, these 7 must-haves have been invaluable.
No matter the project, you need the contract to clearly state what the deadline is. Make sure you've mentioned exactly when the final illustrations are due that way you can hold your illustrator accountable and keep your project moving at a steady pace.
You'll also want to include how much you'll be paying the illustrator for the complete job and how you'll be paying (e.g., cheques, e-transfer, etc). Then you won't find any surprises when all is said and done.
The Payment Plan
In addition to how much you'll be paying the illustrator, you'll also want the contract to state when you'll be paying them. For example, you'll likely want to pay your illustrator half of the price up front and then the other half upon completion.
No matter how you choose to split up the payments, make sure the illustrator contract includes your plan.
The Book Size
It might not seem that important, but your illustrator contract should also state the exact dimensions of your book. Then you can make sure your book designer has everything they need once illustrations are done.
The Exact Specifications Request by Your Book Designer
Speaking of book designers, odds are your designer will need very specific qualities in your children's book illustrations. Make sure to ask your book designer exactly what they need so you can include those details in the illustrator contract.
There's nothing I recommend more than having a storyboard requirement in your contract. Why? Because a storyboard will give you a rough overview of what your book will look like page by page.
Then you can make all the changes you need to before your illustrator puts in hours of work to draw the finished product. Unanticipated changes may cost you. Avoid that by including a storyboard requirement.
A Work-for-Hire Illustrator Contract
Simply put, work-for-hire means you can use the illustrations in the future as you see fit, because you will own the rights to the illustrations.
This is essential because if you ever want to release merchandise, create promotional materials, or market on social media using content from the illustrations, you need to own the rights. If not, you'll be stuck asking the illustrator for permission every time you use any of their work.
Make promotion easy by including a work-for-hire condition in your illustrator contract.
Interested in Writing a Children's Book?
** IMPORTANT** this list 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.
After Your Illustrator Contract is Ready
Once your illustrator contract is ready to go, it's time to sign. Always keep a record of the signed contract handy. Hopefully you won't have to use it, but it's always nice to refer back to if you forget about any deadlines or requirements.