Some time ago, I began to chronicle my process in producing the book cover for my novel The Poltergeist Files: Blackson’s Revenge which will begin after I’m finished with The Dark Corner series. In the last post, I outlined my method in finding a book cover illustrator. My process is twofold since you will need both to complete the process. I think that it’s important to mention at this point that a book cover illustrator is not the same as a book cover designer. Those are two separate processes unless the type of book you’re writing can have a designer do all of the work or they are illustrators as well as book cover designers. However, for me, I will be designing my book cover myself because what I want to do is easy and I can do it myself.
Once I found my illustrator, the next step was the business side of things. The agreement. Many people turn to a lawyer for this kind of thing and pay hundreds of dollars for them to draft it up. That is an option, for sure, but for something this simple, you can save your money and look up an agreement online that says what you want it to say and edit it for your own personal use. I went ahead and used an Illustration Commission Agreement. If you put that into Google, it’s the first thing that comes up as a PDF file. It’s three pages long and says everything that you need.
In this agreement (which is put together well by the way), there are four main areas that you will have to edit:
First is putting in the name and address of the Illustrator and Author at the beginning. In that same section, you’ll also have to edit the amount of illustrations and the name of the work it is for.
The Sale And Purchase of Artwork (Advance) is the next section. This is how you will pay for the illustrations. It’s important to mention that straight percentage deals from royalties on the front end are frowned upon by artists and many just won’t do it unless you have a proven track record where you’re selling a lot of books all of the time. That is not the vast majority if not all of the people reading this post. You won’t get quality work that way. Budget the money aside from the start and be ready to pay that money while you’re in talks with the artist.
In this section, you can break up the payments like so:
The Illustrator hereby sells, assigns, and transfers, and the Author hereby purchases the sole and exclusive license to produce, publish, sell, in printed and digital book format the Artwork for the sum of number of dollars ($225) payable as follows:
● 50% to begin the work including rough and revised sketches.
● 25% after the basic concept has been agreed upon including color roughs
● 25% for the final, finished product.
Next is the Royalties. For most, there will be no royalties. Cover artwork is a one-shot payment with no royalties on the back end. However, I personally like to give my artists a little something on the back end so I pay royalties on copies sold since their artwork is helping me to sell my books. It’s not much but it’s something. Trust me. Getting them money on something they probably have forgotten about is always a plus and keeps the relationship strong if you want to use them in the future.
Last is the Project Schedule and Delivery Dates. This is when you would like to have the artwork done. My suggestion is to do this before you write the book or at the beginning of it. Strange, I know since most wait until the end. The problem with that is that you are stuck waiting for illustrations which still have to be designed on your book cover to release your book. If you get that out of the way as you’re writing the book, you’ll have everything you need to release it at the moment you need it.
The other sections like Copyright, Illustrator’s Copies, Promotion and the like can be left alone unless there is something there you believe you need to add. But as I mentioned, once you edit those four main sections, the business part for your book cover is done.
If you have any questions about the agreement and what parts of it means, let me know in the comment section below. I put a disclaimer here that I am not a lawyer and I’m not giving legal advice. I’m simply interpreting the jargon if you are lost. If the agreement is too much for you and you have the money to burn, then I suggest that you get a lawyer for legal advice. But just starting out, this contract should do the job in a pinch.
Your comments are appreciated.