Important points to keep in mind while signing a contract for publication of your illustrated book

Be aware of the contents of the contract while publishing your book

If you are into book illustration and want to publish your book you need to know the finer intricacies of publishing.  You should negotiate a deal with publishers so that you won’t end up in a loss.  It is good to seek legal advice and hire a good lawyer with experience in book publishing contracts.  Many writers are wary to get their books published because of the bad reputation that book publishers have among book illustrators or authors. Publishing houses hire the services of acquisition editor whose responsibility is to rope in book illustrators or writers.  Most of the book illustrators depend upon the acquisition editors to help them in negotiating, so this gives the publication house an advantage over book illustrators in having their way.

Before you sign a contract you should be fully aware of its contents of even the small print. The relationship between the book illustrator and the publisher depends on a written contract and not just which is implied.  So importance should be given to each and every word of the contract and illustrators should not make the mistake of overlooking even minute details.  Sometimes illustrators make the mistake of focusing on the financial aspect alone and overlook minor details that could protect your rights as an illustrator.  Hiring a lawyer will keep you safe from all risk involved in book publishing and contracting.

Know your limitations if you are asked not to illustrate competitive books

If your publisher has a clause in your contract that states that you should not illustrate books that may compete with other illustrators, you should consult your lawyer to understand where exactly you stand and how limited you are.  Mostly  will not produce work that competes with each other in the market and publishers too are not in favour of it, since they may lead to unsuccessful sales so this deal with actually result in a loss.  In case, this clause that is included in your contract must be tapered to the point where it will violated only when an identical book is illustrated.

Giving your assurance to the publisher that your work is original work of art and not plagiarized

As a book illustrator you will be asked to guarantee your work against plagiarism or that your work is not already sold to another publisher.  Even the rights of any illustrations and materials that you did not create are held by the publisher.  You will end up paying legal fees during any period of time in case there is a lawsuit against your publisher.   This is something to worry about for the illustrator.  So make sure that the clause in the contract is only limited to your work and not pay for something that is not your fault.

Copyright issues

It’s a normal practice that publisher will try to register copyright himself instead of the book illustrator or author.  The ownership of the copyright by the publisher may prove to be beneficial to him when someone infringes on it since all the proceeds from lawsuit may go to the publisher instead of the author.  Since the book illustrator has given the rights of publishing the book to the publisher at the start of the contract, even if the illustrator keeps the copyright to himself it does not show the book is the illustrator’s asset anymore.


Editing and proofreading the illustrated book

The publisher has the right to make revision in the book but it will only be possible with the permission of the illustrator.  The illustrator should make the desired revisions to check for any inconsistencies and errors. At the final stage of production the publishing house will allow the illustrator to make any changes if required and he will have to pay about 10-20 per cent charges if the proofing has been completed, this is in the case of a rewrite.  But if there are errors because of the publishers fault then the illustrator cannot be made accountable for them.

The manuscript of the illustrated book

The main aspect of the contract in publishing is the manuscript, all the details regarding number of pages, number of words and number of illustrations are all mentioned in the publishing contract.  Acquisition editors may not take this seriously and may be casual about its specification, but the illustrator must have a perfect idea of what the final outcome will be.  The publisher should honour the specifications given by the author or book illustrator regarding the book.  The manuscript contains a word file along with 2 or 3 copies in print and will also contain artwork.  Even the details of the index that the book will have are mentioned.  Normally the book illustrator does not pay for the preparation of the index but certain publishers do charge them against the illustrator’s loyalties or according to the pages of the book.  But if the book illustrator chooses to do this on his own, there is no need for the illustrator to pay the publisher to do this.

Risks involved and delays in publication

There will also be a clause in the publication contract stating that that publisher has a right to reject the manuscript that is produced by the illustrator or that it requires changes or he can altogether cancel the contract.  The publisher has the right to determine whether the manuscript is fit for publication and the contract will contain this statement.  But in the content of the contract there should be details of what the manuscript should contain so that the author or book illustrator can challenge the issue after the submission of the manuscript for publication. The book illustrator should also include a clause in the contract limiting the changes that can be incorporated in the book without the explicit permission of the author.  In any case, if the publisher cancels the publication of the book under any circumstances it is fair that the book illustrator keep back the advance payment made by the publisher and also that all rights should revert back to the book illustrator.

By keeping the other points in mind any book illustrator could stay safe when sending their illustrated book for publication.

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