I am going to share with you the key secret to getting an illustrator interested in working on your project. I am sharing this as a public service announcement, on behalf of illustrators everywhere.
In the course of networking, I meet a lot of people from different walks of life. And when they learn that I am a cartoonist and illustrator, I almost always hear one of three things from them:
My answers, respectively, are always:
Okay, I’m exaggerating on that last one. But not by much.
Invariably, I will hear this pitch. The idea is presented with a lot of enthusiasm and conviction. And, on a very rare occasion, the idea is good.
So why do I politely turn these gigs down?
The honest-to-Buddha truth is this: There is no upfront benefit to me.
At no point during the pitch is the idea of money and payment mentioned. When the topic of renumeration comes up, usually at my inquiry, it’s discussed in a round about way using terms like “profit sharing”. Or royalties. Or *gasp* even exposure.
You will always lose me at this point. Always.
I’ll cut to the chase:
If you really want my attention and you really want me to illustrate your book then I expect to be paid up front for my work. I don’t want royalties. I don’t want to split the profits 50-50. I want money in my pocket. Because I have bills to pay and a family to feed. And other paying projects to work on. Half payment upfront and half when the work is finished is my usual policy for any client I take on.
It’s shocking how fast a “great children’s book idea” is killed when the subject of money and immediate payment come up.
If you really believe in your idea: Pay your artists upfront.