Children’s book illustration contract

By heather at 9:20 pm on Thursday, January 21, 2010

heather castles illustration contractA signed contract between the Publisher/Author and Illustrator is the very first thing that should be in place before delving into illustrating a children’s book. When you work with a Publisher, they will provide their own contract and terms tailored for your project. But when working with self-published Authors, it is even more important to have a contract. Most first time Authors aren’t familiar with working with Illustrators, and a contract both educates the Author and protects both parties from things going pear shaped.

I’ve been fine tuning my contract (or Illustration Commission Agreement) ever since my first book, and it is still a work in progress, always being adjusted to match the project I’m working on. Feel free to download a copy of my contract (by clicking on the image) and use it as a launching pad for your own contract. The main details I include are :

  • Name and Contact Details of both the Author and Illustrator
  • Title of the work
  • The number of illustrations to be commissioned
  • 1) Commission and Grant of Rights : this section describes that the Illustrator is selling the rights to USE the artwork to the Author… they are not selling the original artwork specifically, and it goes on to state that original artwork belongs to the illustrator.
  • 2) Sale & Purchase of Artwork : States clearly how much money the illustrator will be paid as well as exactly what the illustrator is selling to the Author. It is good to be specific about what currency you are to be paid in, especially when working with international clients.
  • 3) Royalties : establishes how much the Illustrator is to be paid in royalties for various types of sale of the book.
  • 4) Project schedule & delivery : including dates here both helps the author know when to expect the art and give you space during that time, and also gives you a deadline to be accountable to.
  • 5) Illustrator’s Copies : establishes how many free copies of the printed book you will be provided, typically between 10-20.
  • 6) Copyright : states very clearly that the copyright of the illustrations still belongs to the illustrator.
  • 7) Credit : How you as the illustrator wish to be credited in the book
  • 8) Promotion : says the Author can use your illustrations to promote their book free of charge.
  • 9) Failure to Deliver and 10) Cancellation : in the unfortunate event that the book is cancelled or you are unable to finish, these sections set out how much you will be compensated for the work you have completed, as well as what the author can expect from you if you do not deliver what you’ve agreed upon.
  • 11-16) Legal Stuff : covers a lot of legal jargon that is also important. Some of the points it covers are establishing that you are the sole creator of the artwork, stating you will not create competitive works, the Author has control over when/if they publish their book and details on assigning the agreement to another person.
  • Signatures of both the Author and Illustrator

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Filed under: childrens books, business of illustration

31 Comments »

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Comment by Michelle Kondrich

January 22, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

Thank you so much for this! It’s such a great template and much appreciated.

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Comment by Ann-Mi

February 9, 2010 @ 10:13 am

This is great. :) Thank you for sharing this!

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Comment by Norah

March 3, 2010 @ 9:26 am

An illustrated cover I’ve worked on for a very prominent publisher has just been cancelled, unfortunately cancellation fees were not mentioned in my contract with the publisher (for which I take blame). I had delivered on time and worked on all required changes over the period of three months. What do you suggest I can do? Please advise! Thank you so much for all your continuous support and great input.

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Comment by Norah

March 3, 2010 @ 9:55 am

I also am working on two other covers with them at the moment, still in progress. Do you think I can still add cancellation fees to our agreement now?

Thanks so much and sorry for all the questions.

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Comment by chinyew

April 11, 2010 @ 12:01 am

Thanks so much for the template.

The format and terms are very professionally done.

Ripping it off from you. Heh thanks again.

-chinyew

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Comment by Ewa Ludwiczak

July 15, 2010 @ 8:37 am

Thank you very much, it is really helpful!!
Greetings from Berlin,
Ewa

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Comment by Sarah

August 19, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

Thanks for the great sample contract, Heather. I have made some adaptions and used it for a current book project. Your sample forms have really helped me brand myself as a professional! Sarah

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Comment by Barbara

October 6, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

Thank you for this useful information. I learned a very hard lesson when self-publishing my first children’s book last Dec.
Verbal agreements for an person to add color to a child’s drawings without a promise of money because it was a “trial run” and first time encounter resulted in a BIG chaotic mess which almost resulted in lost friendship and the work not being published. Even if it is a good friend there needs to be a contract. Thanks

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Comment by Books for young Children

November 11, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

Thanks!!
I agree with your Blog and I will be back to check it more in the future so please keep up your work on.

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Comment by Leanne M Williams

November 16, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

Thank you so very much for providing such fantastic information. Especially the contract. It is exactly what I have been looking for. It is so easy to understand and I really appreciate you making this available to help us Artists out. Brilliant :-)

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Comment by Marion

February 6, 2011 @ 10:02 am

Brilliant website. I’ve only just found it and already it’s been an extremely valuable tool in navigating the sometimes murky waters of freelance illustration. Thank you so much!

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Comment by Leesan Villa

February 13, 2011 @ 11:59 am

Thank you much for the wonderful information! Your website is God Sent!

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Comment by Nicholas

May 9, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

Fantastic example contract. I have a question regarding the “Failure To Deliver” section. If I (the illustrator) doesn’t deliver on time, what does the author get out of the deal?

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Comment by heather

May 18, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

Hi Nicholas,
Going to keep this one brief as I’m off on maternity leave…

You’d have to stipulate in the contract what terms for the author to get out of the deal if the illustrator doesn’t deliver on time. Generally, it’s a discount off the finished illustrations (though I’ve never actually had that happen, normally a chat over an extended deadline settles it, especially if a missed deadline was caused by both author & illustrator.) If the illustrator doesn’t finish the book, they still need to be paid for the work they have completed. In the worst scenario, the author could pursue legal action if they felt it was appropriate… but I see illustration as similar to say a contractor working on your kitchen, if they build half a kitchen they still need to be paid for that work.

Hope this helps!

Cheers,
Heather

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Comment by Nicholas

May 19, 2011 @ 7:12 am

Thanks Heather. That makes a lot of sense and I shall include that in my contract.

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Comment by Lisa

May 30, 2011 @ 10:55 am

Thank you so much for this contract!! It was a great starting point for me.

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Comment by Andrea

July 21, 2011 @ 8:35 am

Thanks Heather,you are an angel and this is a great gift. Best Wishes!

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Comment by Lauren

August 14, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

Informative! Thanks for taking the time and effort to write this blog and for downloadable template. Kindest Regards!

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Comment by Cassandra Leigh

August 24, 2011 @ 12:32 am

Thank you so so much! this has helped me a great deal, cant even begin to explain!

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Comment by Linda Binkley

November 2, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

Thanks for your generosity.

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Comment by Chris

November 27, 2011 @ 10:14 am

EXCELLENT contract, thanks so much for posting this! I was so lost with the royalties, plus you gave me some new ideas!

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Pingback by Excellent Contract! « Clarkillustrations.com Blog

November 27, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

[…] For all you artists and writers out there, especially when the two of you on occasion must work together, contracts are crucial to large projects.  In my experience it can be pretty difficult to find the information you need online without paying someone for it, and lawyers are just out of the question unless you are ready to drop $1000-2000 or more.  I’ve had clients who know lawyers who write up contracts, I’ve written up my own, searched around, and I’ve finally found some great information and combined two contracts with a few tweaks to make the ULTIMATE AIR TIGHT CONTRACT! (the originals were from a client and from blog.illustrationcastle.com)  This contract includes Royalties, Artist’s rights to a contract, the option to purchase a contract, NDA, protection for both parties, payment scheduling, advanced deposit, cancellation, survival, and much much more.  It’s about 7-8 pages long so it’s quite a read, but if you ever wanted an air tight contract that equally protects both sides and is fair, this is the contract for you!  Feel free to use it, modify it, or just learn from it! […]

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Comment by Jane @ Junglenook

February 23, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

Hi, thankyou so much, I appreciate the time and experience that you put in to this contract. I feel more secure and positive about venturing into my first book.

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Comment by JEAN

April 25, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

This was so incredibley helpful to me. Thank you so much for sharing!

25
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Comment by MILIND

May 3, 2012 @ 1:22 am

This is BRILLIANT!indeed,much much help,Thanks a Ton!

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Comment by halbhufner

May 8, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

Hello, I looked at the template but couldnt figure what CAN$ meant. Can you be kind enough to explain? Many thanks!

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Comment by Multi-trillionairess

June 14, 2012 @ 3:31 am

This is very useful. Thank you for taking the time to produce the template. God bless you.

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Comment by Deb

June 16, 2012 @ 4:51 am

Halbhufner, I believe the CAN$ means Canadian currency.

29
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Comment by SCRIBE

July 1, 2012 @ 1:13 am

Thanks, Heather, and all the best with your little one.
I am an editor struggling to write a contract with an illustrator who wants me to check his text and suggest improvements for a series of stories on web and app for which she wants total royalties and copyright.
Very vague brief. I’ll try to adapt your contract to suit us both. Thanks again, you’re extremely generous.

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Comment by Valerie Cuan

July 7, 2012 @ 12:46 am

In reply to Halbhufner. My guess is it means Canadian dollars.

31
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Comment by Lisa

July 11, 2012 @ 12:18 am

CAN$ = Canadian dollars

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