Advice needed for a newbie illustrator


New Member
Hello! I'm new, and wasn't sure whether to post in the Business thread, or the Illustrators thread... but thought I'd try here first. Hope that's right!

I've just received my very first commission to illustrate a children's book, with a flat fee (half upfront, half after it sells x amount). It's a very low fee, but as it's my first and only job from being a mere hobbyist, I'm keen for the attribution, and excited by the prospect. They have specified, though, that the fee would include handing over full copyright. Now this is where I'm a little murky. I won the commission by bidding a completely original character design, unguided by descriptions. The writers have explicitly said that they are exploring merchandising options beyond the publication of a book. Would signing away my rights mean that I will see no returns from any spin-off merchandise? Is there any way of protecting my assets at all... or am I worrying needlessly? Is there anything I should definitely ensure is put into the contract? :icon_confused:

The sales of the product does not dictate your pay.

Paul Rand and Steve Jobs

1993 interview re: Paul Rand and Steve Jobs - YouTube

I'm not saying that you have to dictate in this way. But listen.

Not to spec
Paul Rand was told, you'll get paid when we see 3 different outcomes
Paul Rand insisted, no you pay 100k whether you use it or not

Ok harder to negotiate these days. But if you're good, offer support, work alongside them - anything is possible.
Correct, if you sign away full rights, you will receive no further profits from YOUR work.

As originator of the work, you automatically own full copyright, full stop. If they want this from you, in part or full, then they should expect to pay extra for it, especially
if the fee is low in the first case. As Hank says, work with them, see what they say.

For official advice, try DACS or AOI.