Dear Self-Publishing Writer,
Please stop writing to me.
This letter has been a long time coming. I finally became fed up with your emails cluttering my inbox over the course of 5-6 years, requesting dirt-cheap illustrations for your self-published book that no one will ever see.
The latest email came from a retired editor of a national Canadian newspaper, a guy who really should know better. I quoted him $500 for a cover, and that’s the last time I ever take the time to write a quote for a self-publishing author. Why? Here is his reply:
It seems as though you are out of my price range. The $500 you quote is more than double the lowest figure, for which the artist offered a front, back and spine. As it turns out, I’ll probably accept a higher, third quote.
I regret it won’t work for us, as I do like what I’ve seen of your work,
Then he goes on to say:
“My ideal would be superb pen-and-ink cover art, plus four or five bw illustrations interspersed throughout the text. Now, for that I would pay $500.”
I love when they write back to you telling you that they could get twice the work for half the price. Do you expect me to bargain with you? You could probably get some desperate soul to do it for a case of beer. You get what you pay for.
Do you self-publishing writers actually expect your illustrators to work for beneath the poverty line?
What if your book was suddenly picked up by a legit publishing house and they said, man, this is great work. We’ll pay you $200 for the whole thing. Do you think that’s fair?
Of course it isn’t fair. And shame on you for thinking legitimate artists will work for free.
All this brings me to my final point. This has been a bad week for me in terms of getting emails from people who want a quality product for peanuts.
Art is not free. Some of us ACTUALLY TRY TO MAKE A CAREER OUT OF IT. We are not just sitting around doing it for fun and fall to our knees in gratitude when you offer us some money for it. We have bills to pay just like everybody else in the world. You wouldn’t expect anybody else to work for free, so why would you expect it of an artist?
Self-publishing writers: do not contact me. EVER. AGAIN.
Chantal Bennett, on behalf of professional illustrators everywhere