I, too, think that $55/hour seems low for a freelancer. I hope it is ok to say that on the list! Obviously one's rate depends on their individual living/working expenses and how much he/she wants for a "salary" in the end. Your friend needs to remember that this is a unique and valuable skill.

I would also see if he can get either a retainer at the beginning of the project or something like half of the agreed upon fees upfront - to ensure that it is worth his time. I have never had a problem getting this, but I don't know how it works in publishing.


Tami Tolpa
Biomedical Illustrator

On Tue, 4 May 2004 17:33 , Jim Perkins <[log in to unmask]> sent:

The ideal way to price a big project like this is to quote a price per
illustration. It's not a good idea to give them one flat price for the
whole project because it's very likely that the final figure count will be
quite different. In my experience, the final count usually ends up somewhat
higher than their original estimate. So I would word the quote something
like: "I will prepare approximately 290 figures for a cost of $ xxx.xx per
figure. The total cost will be approximately $ yyyyy.yy, depending on the
final figure count."

The hard part, of course, is deciding how much to charge per figure.
Hopefully the publisher has provided your friend some samples of the
style/complexity that they want. Based on these samples, your friend should
be able to estimate how long it will take to create each figure. Some
artists draw distinctions between simple, moderate, and complex figures and
price each one differently. I prefer to average them all together and use a
single price for all figures.

If we're talking about simple schematics like you see in most textbooks,
they will probably take an average of just a few hours each. Hopefully
that's the case - otherwise there's no way he'll be able to do 290 in six
months, especially when you add in time for revisions. Some may take less
than an hour, while others may take several hours, but it all evens out in
the end.

Once he has an idea how long an average figure might take, just multiply it
by his normal hourly rate to get a price per figure. Personally, I think
$55.00 per hour for a freelancer is pretty low. You have to take into
account all of your overhead costs, self-employment taxes, profit, etc. You
also have to take into account the fact that the publisher probably wants
all rights, which should jack up the price per figure. Most illustrators I
know charge at least $75.00 per hour and some are in the $100 - $125 per hr

One other word of caution on a project like this - the authors frequently
drag their feet and don't complete the manuscript on time. They may be very
slow in getting back to your friend about questions, revisions, approvals,
etc. Your friend shouldn't be held to the deadline if the authors hold up
the process. I always add a line to my quotes (and contracts) that says
something like "completion of the work by such-and-such a date is dependent
upon the timely delivery of required reference materials and approvals of
preliminary work."



James A. Perkins, MS, MFA, CMI
Assistant Professor of Medical Illustration
College of Imaging Arts and Sciences
Rochester Institute of Technology
Bldg. 7A, Room 3415
73 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, New York 14623

RIT office: 585-475-2443
RIT fax: 585-475-6447

Studio: 585-226-8149
Studio fax: 585-226-6965

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