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Okay, so... I've had this friend* who's writing a novel, and he wants me to be a part of it. I can't give specifics, but it's a teen-novel with, well, art in it. Clean, tame, cute furry art. And I said alright, not really knowing what would happen with the agreement.

He e-mails me ideas, specifics, questions, parts of the story and everything, okay, sure... I also speak to him over the phone and on MSN, and he doesn't bother me too much. No, it's not that he's bothering me about it... He just doesn't want to compensate me until -after- the book gets published. Wha...? So, I'd be doing art for him for free, while he's writing the novel. And I'd get paid -after- the book gets published.

It's not that I don't trust him, but he's not treating this deal as a buisness proposal, and it's concerning to me, as I believe he probably thinks he can get away with it because of his close status with me. :/ Should I be getting paid while this is in effect, being written and before it's published? Or once (if.) it gets published, should I be collecting royalties from him? I really don't know what to do in this situation. It's a bunch of sketches of a mock-up character he has for the character in the story, and something akin to LJ "mood" icons, and.. It sounds like a fun project, but when should I be compensated? When do I put my foot down and tell him I -need- to get compensation for my work?

I feel rather silly asking this here, but any and all comments on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

( * = He's my boyfriend. x_x )

EDIT: Thank you all a ton for all of your comments! Though I have not answered many of you on this topic, it turns out I was only an addition in the project because he thought it would be a fun thing for us to do, but failed to realize I take most art proposals as serious business ventures. :/

My payment would've been dependent upon if the book was successful, and guys - I think you misunderstood me. This novel is NOT a furry novel. It's somewhat of a teen-drama
, of a high school junior coping with being a part of the (clean) portion of the subculture, as well as dealing with an internet-persona vs. her real life and goals as a struggling artist. (However, due to the fights he and I have been in over this, I have no idea if he has any plans to further continue with it. He DID write a fully fleshed out prologue, but that was about it.)

He wanted to include my art, not in a picture-book style, but once in a great while to maybe demonstrate the girls feelings when she herself was too worn out to write up some huge "post" about how she felt or what was going on. (It would be a journal-style novel. Think Flowers For Algernon, almost.) But, this is something I just wanted to clarify.

Thank you all for your advice and help! <3

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( 43 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 30th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)

Always get paid up front, all artists who do internal art and covers for books are paid up front and get some small amount of royalties for reprints.

Even if the person is close to you, a contract is important and it should be treated like business. I once got talked into working with someone I thought was a friend on a paper gaming book only to find out he'd ripped off most of the data from dungeons and dragons then he threw an epic tantrum when I refused to have anything further to do with the project.

Put your foot down now, since if the book does not sell? (many books written by over adventurous furries have not) then you'll probably get nothing. If he's not prepared to treat it as a business job then it's probably not got much chance of selling.

Also dating someone does not oblige you to draw free art for their projects.
Oct. 30th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
Getting published is not a sure deal that you're going to get much money off of it. If any. In fact, if he goes with certain publishers, they may charge him for a set number of books to be printed. It would be up to him to sell it.

If you do not want to do the work without compensation, then you need to put your foot down now. It sounds like he's using your relationship to get free art out of you. That's not ok.
Oct. 30th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)

Getting picked up by a conventional publisher is a one in a thousand chance. Literally. Roughly one manuscript in one thousand gets published, when it comes to new and not established authors. So you are taking a huge chance if you do this with the promise of compensation after publication.

And if he's self-publishing, sure it's 100% that it'll get in print, but it'll be costing him so much to do it that the profit margin on each book he sells will be tiny, and the odds of selling enough to actually cover the initial costs are very, very, very poor.

Now if he's an established author with a large following who's published things before, that's a little different, in which case I might risk it.

But whatever the situation is, it honestly sounds like he's taking advantage of your relationship, and that's just not good. And what happens if you two break up? It may not happen, but it might! Will he honor his promise to pay you for your work if things go sour? At least you need a written contract, but honestly I'd ask for payment up front in your situation. I might give a close friend some kind of discount, but I wouldn't let them get free art, no way.
Oct. 30th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
Get paid up ffront, and probably negotiate for royalties.
I did the same thing with my husband.

It is REALLY important to have a contract on things like this, because, in case the relationship goes south, you want to be sure to be paid. Not saying that it will, but it's something that could happen.
Oct. 30th, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
This and all of the above.

Also, having a contract is important not just as an 'in case things go bad' back up, but to help make sure things don't go bad in the first place. Money dealings between friends and family can turn nasty before you realize there's anything wrong.

My advice is to be very very careful in situations like this. Write and contract and deal with this as you would any other professional commission. That way everyone stays happy =)
(no subject) - bladespark - Oct. 31st, 2009 12:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Oct. 31st, 2009 01:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 30th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
So back in high school I dated a writer who was writing a novel that he wanted me to do art and illustrations for free for.

SO I put a lot of time and effort into designing a cover, and had put quite a bit of work into an illustration. We broke up. No money for my time came my way (of course) and he actually never wrote any of the story He had barely more than some footnotes and scattered pages.

Just because you're in a relationship, even if it feels like a great one, they should compensate you for your time and effort.

My story, at least, had a decent ending. In 3+ years I was able to take all the design work I had initially done for his story and paint over it into an illustration for class :)! fit perfectly.
Oct. 30th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
Are you serious?

Ok...my response may be a bit off topic,but not rly imo because you said this.

"I feel rather silly asking this here, but any and all comments on the matter would be greatly appreciated.( * = He's my boyfriend. x_x )"

Now.....If this was a business deal with a college or an acquaintance or perhaps even a friend that your not that close to I could see the possible concern and posting on this list,but your bf?



I guess the only thing I would say to that is I am of the opinion that anyone that was of that mindset about someone they are in a relationship with ,then perhaps they shouldn't be in a relationship with this person.

One of a few things going on here.....either you have severe trust issues,...or you don't really care about this person like you have convinced yourself or others that you do,...or your gut is telling you something about this person that you probably should listen too and your afraid to be alone so your being used as a doormat anyway because of that.

Or any possible combination of the above mentioned or more along similar lines.

Also im not telling people what are rite and wrong and im not going to argue with what people think they should do business wise when it comes to their partners and money,but I will say this.
I have done tens of thousands of dollars of work...maybe even hundreds of thousands of my various trades,skills and time in my past relationships,and even STILL do for some of my exes and they do they same for me.....my VERY close best friends are the same,and from my observations when people REALLY love each other that's what they do.

So ya....maybe think about why you felt compelled you had to ask this about your bf and maybe work on that question before the business related stuff that goes along with it.

And good luck with all that ^_^

Oct. 30th, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)

I would charge my husband if he wanted me to do art for him, and he charges me for computer stuff, when it's not just quick everyday things.

It doesn't mean a relationship is somehow wrong when you keep business and personal issues separate. And not all relationships are alike. Just because you would do anything at all for free for somebody you're with, that doesn't mean everyone's relationships work like that.
(no subject) - dunpokethebear - Oct. 30th, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Oct. 30th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Oct. 31st, 2009 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - diprotodontia - Nov. 1st, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Nov. 1st, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cissa - Nov. 2nd, 2009 12:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _reddie - Oct. 30th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Oct. 30th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - atateatarin - Oct. 31st, 2009 03:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Oct. 31st, 2009 12:12 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - bladespark - Oct. 31st, 2009 01:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kadaria - Oct. 31st, 2009 01:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hobokitten - Oct. 31st, 2009 02:39 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - snarky_fox - Oct. 31st, 2009 02:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 30th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
For professional work, you should get at least half up front, then the other half upon approval of preliminary sketches.

If you think it might be a fun thing to do, you can collaborate with him for free, unless the book actually sells (slim chance, sorry), but he'd get to make no demands that would make it stop being fun for you, either on quality or size or volume etc.

But like others have said, consider possible legal implications should the relationship go South. Not saying and certainly not hoping it will, naturally, but it does happen and he'd end up trying to sell his book to a publisher, with your character and your art etc.
If you don't have a contract then, you can kiss your money goodbye.
Oct. 31st, 2009 01:26 am (UTC)
... or maybe my relationship is just negative, lol
he's your boyfriend, you should be close enough that you can tell him he's being an idiot* without him spazzing out, no?

* - he is.
Oct. 31st, 2009 01:49 am (UTC)
Re: ... or maybe my relationship is just negative, lol
Yeah, I did earlier, actually. We fought for a little bit, but things are on good terms now. I told him that if he's going to commission another artist, as well, he needs to treat it as a business proposal.
Oct. 31st, 2009 01:39 am (UTC)
If you're really into the project, then help him and work on it. If you really don't want to dedicate time to something you most likely will never get paid for, don't.

If you share the passion, cool, but it sounds like you don't. So don't let him guilt you into doing it.
Oct. 31st, 2009 01:44 am (UTC)
Don't do anything for free unless you're okay with it ultimately being for free XD It's one thing if this is a project you're into and wouldn't mind never being compensated, but if you're only going to do it because you hope to be paid.... ask for compensation now. Don't let this guy use your relationship to milk you for free work. If you don't make it clear now what you need, at a guess it's never going to be a priority.

Royalties - up to you. I would say skip that mess and get payment up front. But if you think you would like to sell the book at cons and splitting the profits or something, then it might be worth working out those details /now/.
Oct. 31st, 2009 01:55 am (UTC)
You can either get payment up front(before or after completion... or 50/50, you know the deal) OR you can get a percentage of the profit after it's all done. Or, you can simply turn down the offer altogether.

It may be a simple commission where you get paid and it's over with. That could be good or bad... seeing as you may get paid less than you could have made from taking a % of sales. Could be the other way around, though, where you'd profit more from taking the % in the hopes of it selling. If it does good, then good. If not, you might end up getting zilch.

It all depends on what you want, really. It's an important decision, so be sure to sleep on it.

Oh, and in either case, you should definitely form a legal, biding contract. That way everyone gets what they deserve.
Oct. 31st, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
Working for friends without payment first is like loaning to friends:
Only do so if you if you are willing to let it go if you get nothing in return. Otherwise you risk your friendship, regardless of the fact that you are in the right to seek compensation.

If you aren't comfortable with the above, ask for money up-front. Asking for money also makes people more likely to treat you like a professional, and not
a. drop last second projects on you
b. be inconsiderate about your time and materials

In the case of my jewelry business I always ask even close friends and family for cost of materials up front before my pliers even touch wire. it makes them think twice about asking for silly requests. I also set the price myself--never let a friend or family determine how much you are worth, in my experience most people have no idea. They think a colored picture is not much different than a coloring book...
Oct. 31st, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)
I see something nobody's addressed yet, so I'll jump in...

Your boyfriend's going about this completely the wrong way.

If he wants to get this published by a real actual honest-to-god publisher, he doesn't hire an artist. The publisher does. The publisher pays the bill, finds the artist, and makes the artistic decisions...AFTER they've bought the book.

He should be trying to sell his manuscript. If he sells the manuscript, then the publisher goes to one of their stable of artists--pros that they know will deliver on time--and commissions the art.

Lots of writers who aren't published do this thing where they say "Hey! If I have art, it'll be more likely to sell! It'll show 'em I'm serious!" This is wrong. It isn't, it doesn't, and all it shows is that you're an amateur who doesn't know the field. It's actually shooting yourself in the foot, because a lot of artists are flakes, and the publisher has no way of knowing whether or not you're one of them, and will lose a lot of money if you turn out to be--and then they have to go to all the trouble of separating the artist from the writer, dealing with legal trouble if the artist gets mad, etc, etc, and really, this OTHER manuscript over here isn't nearly as much trouble, why don't we buy that instead?

So. If he wants a real publisher, he shouldn't hire the artist and you shouldn't take the job.

If he aims to print-on-demand it and sell and promote it himself, then he can hire you. Get the money up front. The odds of him being successfully self-published are fairly slim, and if you wait until after the book is successful, you'll likely be waiting a very, very long time. And if it IS as wildly successful as he hopes, then hot damn, he beat the odds, and he lost nothing at all by paying you up front.

Mathematically, however, the odds of him being published by a major press or financially successful on the self-publishing front are slim. It's not impossible--lots of people DO succeed!--but it's NOT a guarantee, and you should in no way shape or form act as if being paid afterwards is a given.

Get a very clear statement of what art is needed. Get at least half the money up front. Charge what you feel you're worth. If you're a good artist, you deserve to be respected and compensated as such, and if you're not, why would he hire you in the first place?

Just to establish my credentials on this one, I've got two published, illustrated children's books out now from major publishers, and a contract with Penguin-Dial for the next four. (I've also worked with a lot of small presses as an illustrator, and got burned a time or two, back in the day, with the whole "I'll pay you when it's successful!" thing. Funny thing, but it never ever was...) Don't just listen to me, though--head over to a place like Absolute Write on-line and visit the forums and ask about when and who hires the illustrator. This is important stuff and he oughta know it if he's serious about the project.
Oct. 31st, 2009 04:17 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. :) My fiance is actually interested in putting something together down the line. I thought of helping him out by putting some concept pieces together, but it seems that would be a bad idea.
(no subject) - kadaria - Oct. 31st, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ursulav - Nov. 1st, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 31st, 2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
I have an ex who was writing a novel, and he promised me the cover art and everything, so I was all psyched, then he just ditched me for Dark Natasha... The book never got published, so whatever.

But really, relationships fall out and so do ideas. If he wants you doing work for him, ask for payment - boyfriend or not, you're doing work that's supposed to be professional. Don't be stupid like me and do a bunch of concepts out of love. ._.
Nov. 1st, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
Do get paid upfront.
Contract are very important.
I have made this mistake myself the hard way, for my sister in law's mother... [that's a mouthful]. In 06 she approached me with the idea of illustrating a children's book and "paying" me with books I can sell.
Granted she spent the money to have the books printed, but I have 50 books that I have sold 9 of and given away as many if not more...

Then, in 08, she approaches me with another... and wanting to keep the peace in the family on my part, I illustrate it again. I gave her the final drawings on my niece's birthday earlier this month and she informs me there is a 3rd book. [which by then I had swore to everyone that would listen I would not be doing it...]

But I don't get the privlege of doing the 3rd book, since the NEW publisher she found has people who will "illustrate it for a fee". And mind you, I didn't get paid for the first two.

Oh yeah, and I get another round of books to sell from the second book.
Oh huzzah.

And she has sent it to several publishers only to be turned down. What she doesn't realize and no one will tell her is that her rhymes SUCK.

So lesson learned:
-don't do any artwork "free"
-ALWAYs ALWAYS ALWAYS have a contract, I don't care if it's yer BF, your BFF, your brother or Joe Schmo off the street
-GET PAID CASH, or at least SOME type of deposit payment before you begin work

And please, do listen to everyone else here, they seem to have ALOT of good advice.
Just don't make my mistake.
Nov. 1st, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)
Just something I thought of while reading all the good advice here, make him write the book first. Like finish it properly. Then at least you're sure he's actually serious about putting the effort into it and doesn't just have some wonderful idea that he gets bored with before he finishes writing it...
Nov. 2nd, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)

even if we forget that relationships can end, if the guy gets bored or completely changes direction, then he'll have wasted the OP's time. I don't think its worth even trying to come to a meeting-of-the-minds contract/agreement until the writing is AT LEAST mostly finished.
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