Picture Book illustration pricing

How do I price picture book illustrations?

Pricing illustration is hardly ever a straightforward matter. With picture book illustration pricing, this can be further complicated with advances and royalties, foreign rights and other matters.

Illustration – Charlene Chua

Traditional publishers normally have a budget in mind for their projects.  Smaller, independent publishers typically have smaller budgets than large publishers. However, as each book is different, there is no one ’correct’ budget. 

What affects picture book illustration pricing?

The budgets for picture book illustration are influced by multiple factors. Some of these include

  • The size of the publisher
  • The reputation of the author, illustrator, or author-illustrator
  • The rights negotiated for the artwork
  • The market the book is meant for
  • The availabilty of the illustrator

So what does picture book illustration cost?

The budgets for picture book & children’s book illustrations can range widely.

According to the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook (2013), the advance for picture book illustration can range between $3,000- 60,000, with additional royalties (The handbook is periodically updated, with the latest edition being due to publish in 2018).  The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) suggests that the author and illustrator may share an advance of $8,000-$12,000 for thier FIRST book, with the larger share going to the illustrator (the advance may increase as the author and/or illustrator establishes themselves in the market).

It is worth noting that picture books can take a good deal of time to complete. Illustrators need several months, sometimes even years, to draft up, edit and finalize the artwork. In addition to the story pages, the illustrator has to design the characters, covers, titles and endpapers.

More help with pricing

Illustrators with agents should first discuss any financial issues with their agents. Agents should be able to help illustrators understand and negotiate any budgets, as well as explain matters pertaining to rights and licenses.

Professional organizations such as SCBWI may have additional resources for members. Some may offer consulting services to help illustrators sort out contracts, or peer advice on budgets.

In the UK, The Association of Illustrators (AOI) provides sample fees and many other useful resources for its members. In Canada, CAPIC or Illustration Quebec may be able to help with Canadian projects. Australian illustrators may want to refer to the fee tables of the Australian Society of Authors, and enquire about their other member services.

The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook is periodically updated with sample pricing for a wide variety of illustration work, including children’s picture books and books in general.

Hire An Illustrator has a good article about hiring a children’s book illustrator, with mentions of common procedure, pitfalls as well as pricing. Format magazine has an article with some sample prices for a variety of illustration projects, including picture books.

Do you have more information about picture book illustration pricing to add? Let us know!

One Reply to “Picture Book illustration pricing”

  1. Thank you for this vast amount of information. I am just beginning to get my feet wet. I have just entered retirement and had dreams of writting children’s books. I was a preschool teacher for 47 years. Thank you again, you’ve help give me that boost of confidence to publish.
    💜 Molly

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