Illustrator Royalty

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If you are a first time children’s author, you probably may have many questions regarding illustrators. Some of these queries are of course about payment for your book illustrations.

How much should the illustrator be paid? What about the royalty? How does that work? Here’s a brief on how the writer-illustrator arrangement usually works: vis-à-vis the money!!

Advance Payment:

Illustrators usually need to be paid an advance, before the book is published. Often this advance is paid out in 4 stages: while signing the contract, on finishing the rough sketches, on delivery of final artwork, on publication day.

But that is not all. Once the book is selling, the royalties start kicking in for the illustrator.


The royalty is the illustrator’s percentage of the money made from the sales of the book. Royalties in children’s picture books are usually divided up on a 50/50 basis, between the writer and the illustrator. But when the illustrations are lavish and detailed, the illustrator may negotiate for a bigger percentage of the royalties. This arrangement requires the following documentation:

  • A contract that outlines all the details of the financial arrangement.
  • A royalty statement every 6 months that shows how sales are going and how much the book has earned.
  • When enough books have been sold and the royalties start kicking in, you have to pay the illustrator every six months (whatever percentage has been agreed upon in the contract) when the royalty statements come in.

All very logistically cumbersome! And very time consuming! Moreover there could be additional complication in case of legal dispute of any sort.

Best Case Scenario

The easiest way to steer clear of these financial hassles is to find an illustrator who is willing to transfer all Book rights (Copyright) to you once the work is complete. So while the illustrator gets a onetime settlement for his work, all the money from the book sales, including royalty, comes to you. This arrangement will usually save you a lot of unpleasantness in future.

In fact, there are firms which offer a wide range of illustration and designing services. You can use their services to guide you through the entire process of transforming your manuscript into a book.

This is a welcome relief for most writers. And usually a financially sound model too.

avatar a.raodcruz (58 Posts)

A specialist in Children’s book writing and Guide for Children’s Authors

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