Author Topic: Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)  (Read 452 times)  

Offline JaydenHunter

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Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)
« on: June 18, 2017, 04:20:52 PM »
I was wondering if anyone here could give me some pointers and/or send me to the correct blogger...

I met a fabulous graphic artist who does children's illustrations here in Guadalajara.  She doesn't speak English and I don't speak Spanish, but her husband is bilingual so all was good.  I asked if she'd done any children's books and she has done some in Spanish, but not English.

Long story short, I asked if she (they) were willing to talk more about a collaboration between us.  They are willing to consider it and I'm thinking it might be a fun outlet for me and a way for her a way to break into the English speaking market.

I just bought a Berenstain Bears book on Kindle as I was curious about how they handled the illustrations.  Obviously it's not going to be as good or as popular as a print book, and who knows if anyone actually buys books for 5-8 year old children for a Kindle, but it's a way to start out fairly cheaply.

So questions if anyone knows:

What's a fair split between writer and Illustrator?  I suppose "depends" is going to be the right answer, but I was wondering if there was a basic standard.

In my first LitRPG book, I have some tables that were uploaded as graphics and it costs me 40 cents a book to transmit.  Obviously this is insane, and I need to change that in my book.  For Kindle Unlimited, this charge doesn't affect me, so I've ignored it for now.

How does Amazon handle the graphics for a Children's book?  Do they just wave all the transmission fees?  Or is this why the Berenstain Bears books are 3.99 and 4.99 (more than the paper copies)????  It seems incredibly dumb to me, but maybe it's the publishers decision?

If we have to pay a dollar or two for transmission costs, it seems like the game is over before you start....does anyone know anything about this?

Oh, I've heard good things about the new formatting program....the name escapes me....for Macs, which is what I use.  Does that work for Children's books that are illustrated?

Oh, Vellum, I think is the name.

Well, I know I would spend days researching these topics so I was hoping a few people could give me some down and dirty advice, at the very least, what bloggers (if any) have trustworthy information.

I also wanted to say that I'm thinking I'd be helping someone break into the American market who wouldn't necessarily think about doing or have the contacts or resources to do so.  I think it would be awesome just to do it, even if we made no money (as long as it wasn't too expensive beyond our time).

I just looked at one of my favorites Goodnight Moon, for ages 0-4, and this book is 8.99 as a Kindle book, but only 5.34 as a paperback.  This makes no sense to me at all, but I'm curious if it's a publisher's decision, or simply because of transmission costs?  Does it really cost this damn much to send pictures?  Really?

The art she does is probably closer to the 0-4 range in style...but I'm thinking a K-3 (5-8 years) would be more conducive to a series.

On a side note, my first week in Mexico as a novelista has gone well.  I found digs (only $250 a month for a well located apartment shared with a couple roomies), the internet here is fast and reliable, the beers at a nice bar are about a buck seventy and off the beaten path the can be had for under a buck.

The food is great and cheap, the people are fabulously friendly and helpful, and it's entirely safe (at least so far and from everything I've read and talked to people about).

It is hotter than Hades, but I'm from So Cal, so I'm pretty used to this with the exception being that in Cali most peeps have a/c and here is very rare.

If anyone wants to consider moving to Mexico so they can become a full time writer, feel free to find me on Facebook.  I don't know much, really, and I'm partially here due to the advice and encouragement of R.B., but I'm happy to at least answer questions about my experience.

Perhaps my experience after a week is mostly so anecdotal and new that it's worthless, ha ha ha...but, that said, I can at least explain why about a week ago I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and today I'm at peace and feel I'll be doing great work here (enough to live as an expat indefinitely, actually...).

 

Writing in multiple genres, because "Reasons."
Jayden Hunter | Twitter | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Offline ccasey

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Re: Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2017, 08:06:47 PM »
Rather than try to answer all those questions, I'm going to point you to a few good resources. The Facebook group Children's Book Authors and Illustrators is populated by self-publishing indies. There are several good discussions there on paying an illustrator fairly no matter where in the world they are (and expecting them to do it for next to nothing because an author thinks they are helping them break into a market is unethical and bs in the extreme).

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators website scbwi.com has forums with good info like contracts and fair payment, especially under the illustrator's section. A writer would do very well to learn from that perspective.

The ebook Formatting of Children's Books and Comics for Kindle by Charles Spender will tell you how to get your data delivery fees down as low as possible. Someone will probably get on here and recommend Aaron Shepherd's ebook Pictures on Kindle without having actually read it. It was not helpful; long-winded and chatty in a more philosophical way with very little nitty-gritty useful info.

Above all, the best book I have ever read for writing and publishing children's books is Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul.

ETA: Another thing I like to do here on kboards is search the word "children's" in that little search box up there to see if there have been any good discussions since the last time I logged on.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2017, 08:29:02 PM by ccasey »
          

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Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2017, 08:33:52 PM »

How does Amazon handle the graphics for a Children's book?  Do they just wave all the transmission fees?  Or is this why the Berenstain Bears books are 3.99 and 4.99 (more than the paper copies)????  It seems incredibly dumb to me, but maybe it's the publishers decision?


On books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 you can choose a 70% royalty, and you pay the download costs, or you can take a 35% royalty and pay no download costs.
     

Offline JaydenHunter

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Re: Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2017, 12:41:09 PM »
There are several good discussions there on paying an illustrator fairly no matter where in the world they are (and expecting them to do it for next to nothing because an author thinks they are helping them break into a market is unethical and bs in the extreme).

Thanks for the reply.  I will go check out the FB group and do more research.

But I'm really confused about this statement.

Why is it BS?
Why is it unethical?

I work with a spec editor (and have done so with someone else before).  I cannot afford to pay upfront.

I worked out a deal with both editors and--I must assume since they signed up--that our agreement was/is both ethical and win-win.

If I don't do a percentage deal with this artist, then there is no deal.  I can't afford to pay her anymore than she can afford to pay me to write a book up front or figure out all the formatting issues, etc.

She can't speak or read English, so the American Amazon book market, at least from a self-published standpoint, is unavailable to her.  If her husband, who can speak English, wants to market her work in the states, he's free to do so, no?

I mean, I don't want to be unethical...so basically if you're correct, you're saying I should now ignore this woman?  Because paying her upfront is not going to happen.  I don't have the money.

Are you saying that we shouldn't work together even if she wants to work together as a partners because I'll be "exploiting her"?

That seems condescending to me, but that said, I haven't discussed any deals with her at all, so maybe she won't want to do a partnership in the first place.  But if she does, I hardly see how it's exploitative as long as the percentages are fair.

That was sort of the basis of my question about royalty splits, but you seem to be implying (like in editing) that they don't happen often, is that true?

People said (here on Kboards and elsewhere) that finding a spec editor wasn't a very viable option, but I found someone and we are both happy with our deal, I love her work and I agreed to the percentage she asked for.  Ironically, when I posted about this on Kboards, the most common thought was that I was paying my editor too much, not exploiting her.

If I offered the artist, say 90% of the royalty, would it still be exploitative of me?

And if yes, what about 99%?

And the second we agree that some amount is fair, whether 50/50 or 99/1 we've agreed that there is a non-exploitative way to do this.

Or no? 

Writing in multiple genres, because "Reasons."
Jayden Hunter | Twitter | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Offline Morgan Worth

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Re: Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 01:57:46 PM »
Illustration is very time consuming. Many people see art as "easy" and take advantage of artists. I'm not saying that's your intent at all, but artists, as a community, are fed up.
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Offline PatPflieger

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Re: Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2017, 07:53:55 PM »
When I wrote a picture book (years ago) that was traditionally published, the illustrator and I split the royalties 50/50.
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Offline ccasey

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Re: Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2017, 02:28:21 PM »
When I wrote a picture book (years ago) that was traditionally published, the illustrator and I split the royalties 50/50.

That's standard in traditional publishing, along with the cash advance. To do that with a self-published children's book would mean enough money to buy a cup of coffee after months of time spent on the artwork. Children's books are the hardest to sell.
          

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Offline JaydenHunter

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Re: Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2017, 01:30:11 PM »
That's standard in traditional publishing, along with the cash advance. To do that with a self-published children's book would mean enough money to buy a cup of coffee after months of time spent on the artwork. Children's books are the hardest to sell.

So, let me understand this:  If I work with her to build a book, and then attempt to get an agent and a traditional deal, then it won't be exploitative?




Writing in multiple genres, because "Reasons."
Jayden Hunter | Twitter | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Offline Morgan Worth

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Re: Advice sought: Children's Illustrated Books (K-3)
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2017, 01:40:32 PM »
So, let me understand this:  If I work with her to build a book, and then attempt to get an agent and a traditional deal, then it won't be exploitative?

Usually with traditional deals, a picture book author gets an agent based on her writing. A manuscript (with no real illustrations) gets sold to a publisher, who chooses the illustrator. The royalty and advance are often split 50/50, but this varies, especially if either the illustrator or writer is much more well-known.

Of course, if you (singular youone person) both write and illustrate, that works a little differently.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2017, 01:42:26 PM by Morgan Worth »
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