Monday, August 20, 2007

Who pays for artwork, maps, and illustrations?

I received a question today regarding interior artwork for books.

Consider books like Steven King's Gunslinger series. They frequently
include B/W and color plates. How is this artwork handled?

Is it up to the author to negotiate with the artist, remit payment, and forward the work to the publisher? Is that something you would handle as the author's agent? Or is this handled by the publisher? (OK, Steven King might have been a bad example. So, consider a book written by
an author significantly LESS famous than Mr King.)

And what kind of compensation does the artist typically get? Are they paid a flat fee for each image? Or do they receive a percentage of sales (such as, perhaps, when the artist is more well-known than the author)?

—John Lawson San Jose, CA



The answer to this question isn’t that complicated. Generally speaking, the publisher holds the author responsible for providing everything that goes between the covers. This would include all artwork, maps, photos, and the index. Authors are frequently surprised by this, as some of these things can get expensive to produce or expensive to get permission to use.

That said, a good agent will attempt to negotiate a permissions budget, but that will almost always get charged back to the author’s royalty account. So, in a way, it’s sort of an additional advance. For example, the publisher might agree to cover $2,500.00 in permissions. The author ends up submitting invoices for $2,000.00. The extra $500.00 won’t ever come to the author. The $2,000.00 will be charged to the author’s royalty account, so if the author had an advance of $10,000.00, he or she will now have to earn out $12,000.00 before additional royalties will be paid.

If you are a very successful author or the book goes for a lot of money, your chances of getting a larger permissions budget improve and that may not be charged to your royalty account. For example, if you are Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist writing a new book, the publisher may agree to pay $5,000-10,000 in permissions, on top of your six-figure advance, and not charge them to the royalty account.

The same goes for maps or illustrations. If they are a “must have,” some publishers may get them done and not charge the author (maps in military books—fiction or nonfiction—or fantasy novels are good examples). Or they may charge the author regardless. It’s often not clear.
As for what the artist gets in compensation, that's entirely up to negotiation. A cartographer will likely have a set fee for which they will produce a map. An illustrator could get a flat fee for a specific use, or they could receive an advance and royalties. For children's books, the latter will nearly always be the case.

One thing to always keep in mind is that your contract should specify that you, the author, will pay for such maps, illustrations, etc., “that Publisher and Author mutually agree should be included in the Work.” Otherwise, the publisher could say they need maps and stick you with cost, even though you don’t think they are necessary.

Indexes are tougher. Publishers will tell you that not having an index will hurt library sales. And that may be true. But if that is their position, the publisher should, in my opinion, pay for the index or at least split the cost. I always try to put a cap on the cost of the index in contracts for my authors.

One could also argue that, in this day and age of various “inside the book,” searches, such as on Amazon.com or Google, that indexes are swiftly becoming obsolete. Certainly once we get to eBooks being a regular thing, an index will not be necessary, since an eBook is searchable.

Keep in mind that every major word-processing program will let you “tag” or “bookmark” terms in your manuscript and from there an index can be generated.

I marked a number of terms in this entry. The resulting index is below (keep in mind when I wrote this in Word, it was a two-page document):

agent, 1
artist, 1
artwork, 1
index, 1, 2
maps, 1, 2
permissions, 1
Steven King, 1


Clearing this is a small one, but you can get the idea. You can also create a separate file of terms you want indexed and there is an option that will generate an index using those terms. If you a nonfiction author, this is an important skill to master in your word-processing program.

Z

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