Fresh out of art college, I was contacted by someone who’d like me to illustrate a children’s book they had written. I jumped at the opportunity. She sent me the copy: four different word documents with two sentence on every page, completely out of order. There was no coherent beginning, middle or end. It quickly became clear that this was not going to be a cherished children’s classic, sold in bookstores around the world – basically, it just described the author’s grandchildren and their interests. I decide to make the best of it and give it a try despite the missing story line, but resolve to have a clear contract so that my work doesn’t become as unorganized as hers.
Client: So do you have any sketches to show me?
Me: Well, I prefer to write up a contract before I start work on this project, but I’ve brought samples for what you can expect the drawings to look like.
Client: My last guy showed up with a whole BINDER full of drawings for the last book I needed illustrated.
Me: I’m sorry, but it is standard industry practice to have in writing a contract that I will be paid for my work before I begin working on the project.
The client was annoyed, but agreed. I sent her a simple contract stipulating my payment for 12 illustrations and a wraparound cover. Half the amount would be paid in advance and the other half on completion, and I would retain copyright to my images so that I could use them in my portfolio. She sent me this email immediately:
Client: Please submit a sketch before a contract is signed and partial payment sent. I will need to talk to my publisher about the copyright and will get back to you.
shortly by this one:
Client: Because of your seeming lack of trust in me with your various signature requirements, your reluctance in providing me with one requested simple sketch and other issues I care not to go into, I have concluded that I am not comfortable working with you nor having you do
the illustrations for this project.