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The Top 5 Mistakes Indie Authors Make When Hiring a Book Illustrator (And How to Avoid Them)


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As an indie author, hiring a book illustrator can be a daunting task. The illustrations in your book are an essential part of telling your story and finding the right illustrator who can bring your vision to life is crucial. However, there are common mistakes that indie authors make when hiring a book illustrator. In this blog post, we’ll go over the top 5 mistakes indie authors make when hiring a book illustrator and provide tips on how to avoid them.


Mistake #1: Not Being Clear on Expectations

One of the most common mistakes indie authors make when hiring a book illustrator is not being clear on expectations. It’s essential to discuss the scope of the project, including the number of illustrations, the style, and the timeline. By doing this, both you and the illustrator are on the same page and can ensure the final product is exactly what you had in mind.

When discussing the scope of the project, it’s important to be specific about the number of illustrations needed. This helps the illustrator estimate how much time and effort will be required to complete the project. You should also discuss the style of illustrations that you want. Different illustrators have different styles, and it’s essential to choose an illustrator whose style aligns with your book’s tone and genre.

Another important aspect to discuss is the timeline for the illustrations. Make sure that the illustrator has enough time to complete the illustrations before the book’s publication date. Rushing the illustrator can lead to subpar work or missed deadlines, which can be costly and delay your book’s release.

Finally, it’s essential to discuss compensation for the illustrator’s work. Be transparent about your budget and negotiate a fair rate for the illustrator’s time and effort.

Mistake #2: Ignoring the Illustrator’s Style

Another mistake indie authors make when hiring a book illustrator is ignoring the illustrator’s style. Each illustrator has a unique style, and it’s essential to choose an illustrator whose style fits your book’s tone and genre. Before hiring a book illustrator, review their portfolio to ensure that their style aligns with your vision for the book. You want to make sure that the illustrator can capture the essence of your story with their unique artistic style.

Mistake #3: Not Negotiating the Book Illustrator Agreement

Many indie authors make the mistake of not negotiating the book illustrator agreement. It’s essential to have a written agreement that outlines the scope of the project, timeline, compensation, and credit ownership.

Make sure to review the agreement carefully before signing it, and don’t be afraid to negotiate terms that don’t align with your expectations. For example, if the agreement states that the illustrator will own the credit to the illustrations, you may want to negotiate for shared credit or a buyout option.


Mistake #4: Not Providing Clear Feedback

Providing clear feedback is crucial when working with a book illustrator. Make sure to provide specific feedback on each illustration to ensure that the final product meets your expectations. This helps the illustrator understand your vision and make changes accordingly.

When giving feedback, be detailed and specific. Instead of just saying “I don’t like it,” explain what you don’t like and what changes you would like to see. For example, you could say “I’m not a fan of the color palette. Can we try a warmer color scheme?”


Mistake #5: Not Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

The last mistake indie authors make when hiring a book illustrator is not giving credit where credit is due. Crediting the book illustrator in the book and on any promotional materials is essential.  This gives the illustrator the recognition they deserve and helps build their portfolio and reputation.

Make sure to discuss credit with the illustrator and include it in the book illustrator agreement. It’s also important to follow through with credit in all marketing and promotional materials for the book.

Additional Tips for Hiring a Book Illustrator

In addition to avoiding the top 5 mistakes, here are some additional tips for hiring a book illustrator:

  • Research and compare multiple illustrators before making a final decision. Look at their portfolios, rates, and client reviews to make an informed choice.
  • Have a clear vision for the illustrations, but also be open to the illustrator’s input and ideas. Collaboration can lead to a more successful project.
  • Communicate regularly with the illustrator to ensure that the project is on track and to address any concerns or questions.
  • Set a realistic timeline for the illustrations and be flexible in case of unexpected delays or revisions.
  • Be transparent and upfront about your budget and negotiate a fair rate for the illustrator’s time and effort.
  • Consider the format of your book and how the illustrations will be used. For example, if you’re publishing an ebook, make sure the illustrations are optimized for digital screens.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for references or samples of previous work. This can give you a better idea of the illustrator’s style and capabilities.
  • Remember that the book illustrator agreement is a legal document, so it’s important to have it reviewed by a lawyer to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

The Wrap

Hiring a book illustrator for your indie-published book can be a challenging process, but by avoiding these common mistakes and following these tips, you can create a successful project that both you and your readers will love. Remember to set clear expectations, consider the illustrator’s style, negotiate the book illustrator agreement, provide clear feedback, and give credit where credit is due. With these best practices in mind, you can find the right book illustrator and create beautiful illustrations that bring your story to life.

By mastering these contractual elements and using reliable resources like Creators Legal, you set your project up for long-term success. So, arm yourself with the knowledge and expertise to navigate the complex world of book and publishing agreements.

Creators Legal is the first and only legal platform for content creators. Find here a fast and easy way to craft simple, yet trustworthy contracts for creatives like you.  

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