The life of a writer, much like the life of an illustrator, is always a precarious one, but sometimes you have an experience that stays with you and that you just HAVE to share (forgive my comic take on this):
This is a public service announcement. This guide is called, “How NOT To Commission Artwork”, but can also be filed under the titles: “How NOT To Treat People” and “How NOT To Do Business.”
When commissioning artwork from any illustrator/supplier:
- Don’t discard the illustrator’s contract without a word of warning or any discussion – this is disrespectful and insulting and unlikely to get you what you want.
- Don’t get your other half to then create their own contract and don’t expect this to be used and terms to be bartered over – this is bizarre and unprofessional behaviour and is NEVER done. Suppliers supply the contract not clients.
- Don’t criticise the illustrator’s contract while saying how yours is better – again calling someone’s contract crap is unlikely to work.
- Don’t direct the illustrator to add comments on your created contract as if directing a child on what to do. You are a CLIENT not the illustrator’s boss.
- Don’t claim to be more knowledgeable on illustration contracts and the illustration business than the illustrator themselves. You may be an expert on everything but this is unlikely to make the illustrator want to work with you.
- Don’t create a contract with terms which are hugely biased towards the client at the expense of the artist, rather than being fair to BOTH parties. A contract that stipulates that if, after a month of working on your commission, using the artist’s time, skills and resources and delivering the artwork on the agreed deadline, that you can then decide not to pay for the services you have used, is neither fair nor usual business practice and would put most struggling illustrators out of business.
- Don’t belittle the illustrator by continuing to behave like an expert on commissioning artwork and quote Clark’s Publishing Agreements Chapter 13. You are NOT an illustrator or in the illustration business. Achieving success does not mean it gives you the right to treat people like underlings.
- Don’t be surprised if the illustrator is not keen to sign your created and unfair contract and requests that the Society of Authors contract experts look at it in confidence – which they did and the feedback was not good!
- In short, treat people with the same fairness, respect and empathy that you would want to be treated with. It doesn’t matter how big or small a name you are, how successful or not, don’t let your ego rule your decisions when dealing with people.
This has been a public service announcement. Thank you.
I know this all sounds frivolous and strange but it was a reminder to me of some of the machinations at work within the world of publishing, whether it’s big publishers, independents, small presses or self-published, despite the over-saturated market, the countless slew of books out there it’s still a rather small world with people vying for their slice of success.
BUT, being successful should never be by trying to take advantage of others or treating people with disrespect. I’m not naming and shaming, that’s not my style and frankly it’s counter productive and smacks of small minded ‘meanness’. The person in question is not a bad or vindictive person and they genuinely do not seem to be aware of how rude and inappropriate their behaviour was. I certainly mean them no harm (the personal phrase I live by is: “First, do no harm”), though I do think a little humility may be in order. Perhaps, they are simply a product of their own success and have forgotten how to treat people and what it is like for the millions of independent authors & artists for which they are supposed to represent, but then, I’m personally friends with some very successful big name authors who have never fallen into the trap of believing their own hype, so I guess it depends on the individual. 😉
Peace & love to all. ❤ xxxx