Category Archives: Illustrators

Contractual Points for Artist-Author-Publisher Wins

This post explains some common contractual points for Artist-Author-Publisher (from out POV). If there is ever anything in a contract that you do not understand, ask a lawyer who specializes in that particular industry. Do not ever sign something because someone tells you that a contract is “a boilerplate” that it’s normal, everyone signs it, etc.

On the other hand, be very aware of how much are you willing to give up? Are any there any points in dispute that are deal-breakers for you? Know your bottom-line. You do not want to lose a deal or a great illustrator because you got subborn about something that is tangental to your main goals. Realistic expectations will help you continue to create win-win situations for everyone.

Here are some basic contractual points to consider.

Information about the Project

Who is involved: Who is the Buyer (Author and/or Publisher) and who is the Artist? What is the name of the project? What is the name of the Manuscript (working title)?

Include a brief description of the illustration project such as: how many total illustrations, approximant sizes and shapes (square, rectangle, etc.), and intended usage (cover, full-page, two-page, etc.).

Information about Milestones and/or Deliveries

What is the final completion date and on what is that date based? This lays out the risks.

Should the work be delivered in stages or all at once? Will there be feedback and/or adjustments/ revisions/ corrections?

Who owns the original work? If the artist retains ownership, then how long can the buyer keep the art before it must be returned?

Information about Payment

How will the artist be paid (money, barter, credit, free copies, royalties, etc.)? How will the payments be split up (% up front, % upon completion, etc.)? Will the artist be reimbursed for supplies?

What are the royalties based upon?

Information about Rights

Who owns the rights? What rights can be transferred? Give illustrative examples. This is important.

Remember about electronic rights, other editions, other languages, derivative works, and merchandising. Also remember about public displays and performance rights, internet references, and marketing/promotion.

Are the rights exclusive or non-exclusive? What happens if the project is discontinued? Is there a kill fee? To whom do the rights revert?

Information about Releases

Are there any? Why and what? Who indemnifies whom?

Anyone out there with other ideas? Let me know what you think. Comments are welcome.


Synergies & Contradictions with “Vendors”

Small companies need to create synergies and resolve contradictions. As publisher, we at Koho Pono wear many hats including vendor-to-authors and project manager. In both of these roles we are trying to develop a satisfying process for everyone. Our goal is for authors to be fulfilled by the publishing experience and for the correct audiences to receive tales that resonate powerfully with them and are delivered in a satisfying manner. So why did I throw a spanner in the works when new author, Jaki Harvell, tried to hire an artist to illustrate her book? After all, she chose well; the illustrations were synergistic with her story.

The trouble was, Jaki was negotiating with the artist without considering how their final deal would affect the book publishing process. She was negotiating as if she was commissioning a work of art for her home rather than building an agreement for art to be used as part of a product that was going to have a life of its own. This distinction is important for all concerned.

If the author had signed the initial contract with the artist, it would have been extremely difficult for Koho Pono to publish the book. Thank goodness we saw the contract before signatures were inked. We all got together (over a superb home cooked meal, I might add) and hammered out revisions that satisfied everyone: author, artist, and publisher. So now, the book will be amazing AND everyone’s rights and responsibilities are accounted for.

Koho Pono wants to put out quality products AND we want to deal with honorable, talented people who we admire AND we want the process to be fulfilling for all concerned AND we want every goal to be designed for win-win-win-win = wins for the author-artist-publisher-audience. (And we also love great negotiation-food)

In summary: it is important for the publisher be mindful of every contributor’s needs on our way to the final product – to keep the ‘customers’ happy. And within that process, we’re hoping to educate authors and artists about the importance of at least thinking a bit about some of the steps required to get their work out to an appreciative audience so they don’t accidentally agree to something that makes it impossible to present their work or that creates a win-lose scenario.

Coming soon will be a series of blogs dealing with some of the contractual points that an artist-author-publisher might want to take into consideration if the goal is win-win-win for all. Look for the titles, Contractual Points for Artist-Author-Publisher Wins.

Also, look for Calming Rice n Mango Salad, which is one of the home-cooked salads we devoured during our negotiation luncheon.