A year ago I was in a bidding free for all on a book contract with Prentice
Hall. This project was described as being around 200 illustrations, all
quite detailed with a lot of research work involved. Before even getting
the chance to bid on the project all the illustrators invloved had to
submit (old) example illustrations of the style of work that they did. From
this group the publisher and author together chose a group of four or five
illustrators to ask bids from. Luckily I was among that group.
In putting together a bid I didn't worry about what the other illustrators
were asking for. I tried to get as much information about the project as
possible before hand by talking to the publisher and especially to the
author. From that information I grouped the illustrations into three groups
according to the amount of work I estimated they would be. Then I estimated
the amount of time it would take to do the illustrations (research time
included) from each of the three groups and summed up a total which I
multiplied by an hourly wage of $30.00 per. The resulting figure for the
bid felt pretty good to me, meaning it didn't seem too high or low, so I
went with it. A few weeks later I got a letter from the author's lawyer
saying I had won the bid and then we proceeded with contract negotiations.
Fortunately the "work for hire" issues never came up and I was able to
retain both rights to, and ownership of the artwork. If the issue had shown
its ugly head I doubt I would have signed a work for hire agreement. This
clause is very detrimental to all freelance illustrators and should be
avoided like the plague.
I talked to the author after starting the project and asked how my bid
compared to the others that had been submitted. He told me that mine fell
somewhere in the middle of the bids and he also said that when they were
selecting the artists, unless the bids were very unreasonable, they weren't
concerned so much with the price of the bid as the quality of the artwork.
They also looked carefully at the artists backgrounds and references for
evidence of commitment to projects and positive responses from former
clients. If there were any mistakes I made in my contract negotiations it
was in underestimating the amount of research time it required. Other than
that I was quite satisfied with the result.
Keep in mind that this project required about 200 illustrations, albiet
quite detailed, which I am only now, a year later, completing the last of!
Doing 250 illustrations in one month is going to require a team of 5-10 (or
more) illustrators depending on the complexity of the project. You'll need
to do a lot of footwork to get them lined up, prices agreed to, contracts
signed etc.. Sounds like a big challenge so good luck.
University of Michigan
Museum of Zoology