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View Full Version : Commission rates for Fantasy Maps in books... HELP!!!



Star-dreamer
05-11-2011, 08:20 PM
Hello,

I'm new to the guild although I've enjoyed looking at maps for a long time... especially ones placed at the beginning of fantasy books. I always feel a little disappointed when I open a new book and there's no map in the front. I've drawn maps out longhand before, but only recently have I taken to editing them digitally and I'm enjoying the results.

Today an author contacted me asking if he could commission me to do a map for his YA Fantasy book which will be published through AMG in the summer. I've had some contact with this author before and I was even able to meet him once. The problem is, I know nothing about commission rates and/or royalties for illustrations/maps. Should I even ask for royalties, or is that only when dealing with publishers? Does anyone else know what I should ask for? Would anyone be willing to give me some advice?

He wants a map similar in style to the one I created for my WIP. Here's the link to that map: http://dragonblade99.deviantart.com/#/d3g3p30

Djekspek
05-11-2011, 09:12 PM
hi, rates and royalties is always hard...

I almost never ask for royalties, as I like to do something and get it finished without having to check on royalties afterwards (but if you think the book is going to be a bestseller, it may be another story :).

As for rates, it all depends on how much time (size, style, color?) you'll need and what you think is a decent payment. You can also check the mapmaking-request forum thread history to see what others proposed as a budget for maps...

And, of course, it also depends on what the publisher wants to pay for it. You can propose the rate you think is decent, or if you're unsure, you can ask what his/her budget is. If it's too low for you, you can work out something with royalties if you want the job.

Also you can check what usage-rights he/she want, if it's full copyright it can be more expensive then when it's (exclusive) usage-rights for the book...

... anyway, just my thoughts on this.... cheers, DJ

RecklessEnthusiasm
05-11-2011, 09:40 PM
If I were you, I'd not think about it as what price the image should be. When I take on a new commission, I think about it like this: how long will this take me and how much is my time worth? Simply multiply a reasonably hourly rate by how long you anticipate it taking.

If you're an amateur, $15 an hour might be reasonable. Graphic design professionals might charge hundreds of dollars for an hour's work (though the difference might not be as huge as it seems since they probably work much faster and have more time saving tricks in their toolbox). Anyway, when you do it this way you don't need to feel bad about whether they turn you down or not. If they aren't willing to pay what your time is actually worth, then that is okay.

Ramah
05-12-2011, 01:35 PM
Jeez, 15$ an hour? I'd be lucky if mine worked out at 15 cents an hour. Man... I'm so slow. :(

RecklessEnthusiasm
05-12-2011, 02:06 PM
But the love and care you put in really shows! Besides, you're more like one of those $100 dollars an hour artists, Ramah.

Gamerprinter
05-12-2011, 03:38 PM
Yeah, though I do commissions roughly for $20 per hour, I estimate the cost based on size, detail and the kind of map that needs creating. World maps, continent/regional maps, urban/town maps and encounter scale maps are all different kinds of animals. Some maps like world maps and urban maps I know will take me much longer than other maps, so the price is steeper for that. In the end, as stated above, its speed at creating the maps that make a higher charge per hour feasible. I've never made more than $150 for a map, usually a third of that is closer to the norm. I have given bulk map deals where the client was seeking 8 or 10 maps, so I might cut 30% off my regular single maps fee to accomodate earning a larger fee in total for the difference.

Some maps, many photorealistic encounter scale maps I can create in an hour or less, whereas a city map might take me 8 or more. But, of course, I am a very fast cartographer - as anyone here can tell you.

One thing though, early on when I was 'slower' ( I was never slow), I guesstimated on what my time to create would be if I were faster, so in the beginning I made less per hour because I took longer to do the work, but I didn't charge that difference to the client. What I thought should take me 4 hour to do, might have taken me 8, but I only charged for 4 hours. Now I am almost right on in my quotes for time, as I have a good idea looking at any map, how many hours it takes me.

Just to comment on Djekspek's point, as a cartographer I only charge a fee to be paid upon completion of work, not based on some ficticious royalty based on future sales which may never come. RPG pubications aren't guaranteed money makers, and if paid a small royalty, it may be a year or more before you ever earn what a straight paid commission will get you instead. Royalties are for writers, not cartographers - I would never accept a royalty for cartography.

In a way, my publications that I am involved in Kaidan, etc. is my way of breaking out of being strictly a commission paid cartographer, as I have aspirations for more involvement in RPG games than just maps. Although my income from maps are now relegated to sales performance, and not immediate commission payment - because I am a publisher, the income earned more than makes up for the difference of getting paid faster through commission work.

Just some thoughts..

GP

NeonKnight
05-12-2011, 11:06 PM
having just sold two maps for a children's book, I did the maps, and sold the rights to the author. In this case, it was easier than trying to assume what royalties may or may not come about in the future.

Midgardsormr
05-13-2011, 11:52 AM
I would think it was a great rarity for a cartographer to receive a royalty. Even cover artists usually don't get that, although I understand that it is not uncommon to put a stipulation in the contract that the art can only be used for a specific edition of the book.

Look out for the phrase "work for hire" in contracts. That phrase means that copyright belongs wholly to the client, and you have no rights to your work. They can continue using it forever without compensating you at all, and you cannot profit from it in any other way (such as publishing an art book of your own). I won't say never to sign a work for hire contract, but if you do make sure you're handsomely compensated for selling your rights.

Star-dreamer
05-15-2011, 04:29 PM
Jeez, 15$ an hour? I'd be lucky if mine worked out at 15 cents an hour. Man... I'm so slow. :(

Ramah, your maps are amazing. O_o Like... so very, very possessional! I'm just startin'.

*Looks at maps again* Crap, those are good! How do you DO that? *gawks*

Star-dreamer
05-15-2011, 04:52 PM
Thanks everyone for your help and advice! I sent the guy an email saying I would do the map for somewhere in the range of $13 - $15 an hour and a signed copy of the book it was for. He already knows I'm a fan, so that (for me) makes it an even more exciting opportunity. He just emailed me this morning saying that that price range sounded good, and he would talk to me about it some more tomorrow.


One thing though, early on when I was 'slower' ( I was never slow), I guesstimated on what my time to create would be if I were faster, so in the beginning I made less per hour because I took longer to do the work, but I didn't charge that difference to the client. What I thought should take me 4 hour to do, might have taken me 8, but I only charged for 4 hours. Now I am almost right on in my quotes for time, as I have a good idea looking at any map, how many hours it takes me.

I'm certainly not very fast yet, but I don't think I'm half bad. My first map took me around 18 hrs on and off. However, I did take my time with that one because it was for my own book, and I'm really happy with the outcome. However, now that I've done it once, I think I can be faster the next time. I gave him a time estimate and calculated $ per hour x hours worked on. He thought it sounded about right, so I'm not going to change it yet. :D I really appreciate all the help. Thank you so much!

Midgardsormr
05-16-2011, 08:53 PM
Congratulations! Be sure to let us know how it goes for you, and if your client permits, please post the finished map here for us to admire!

Star-dreamer
05-17-2011, 09:32 PM
Thank you. I will ask him when I finish it. :)

tilt
05-25-2011, 08:25 AM
congrats on the commision - and yes, please post the finished map if allowed so. Sometimes you can get permission in low resolution or with a watermark over it. :)

RjBeals
06-28-2011, 01:26 PM
... I've never made more than $150 for a map, usually a third of that is closer to the norm.

Just reading through this - man, someones getting a deal!

Gamerprinter
07-01-2011, 12:21 AM
Yeah, well, I mostly only have time for maps for my own projects these days, as I also have to make filler illustrations, ad creation, page layout (with numerous corrections) - so much less time for maps in general. So nobody is getting this deal for the time being, except me. My first adventure The Gift (for Kaidan) has gotten six 5 star ratings, my In the Company of Tengu has gotten three 5 star ratings and one 4 star rating. And adventure 2: Dim Spirit is being released in PDF tomorrow. I'm working on 30 Ancestral Relics for Kaidan (magic items like Legacy Weapons) and will soon be having to the layout for The Way of the Yakuza. Also on the proposal table is 30 monsters and monster templates for Kaidan, called Obake Bestiary. Busy guy and I.

GP

Star-dreamer
07-13-2011, 07:45 PM
Wow, GP, you ARE busy! :)

Well, the map is finished and I have permission to post it. Perhaps I'll start a new thread with the picture... idk. how does one post a picture in this forum anyway?

RobA
07-21-2011, 11:46 AM
I found a comment over at Board Game Geek I thought I'd share here:


"When you hire an artist, you're paying for a lot. Your paying primarily for the copyright, or the right to copy the artwork, not just for the artist's time. This can get complicated, because you may want to do multiple print runs or reuse an image in other places, and the respectable thing would be to pay the artist more in those circumstances. You're also paying for their expertise and skill level, as well as how fast you need the artwork and how in-demand the artist is. Costs are high for a lot of practical reasons as well: software and computer costs, art supplies, insurance and other benefits (that the artist would get in a full time job), self-employment tax... it's all out of pocket for someone self-employed. If you're paying a professional freelance artist minimum wage, you are definitely not paying them enough. It just isn't sustainable long term if art is their full time occupation.

Average cost per hour for a graphic designer is $65 and illustrators often charge per project, a small (that is, in size) illustration running $150-300 average for a color job. Of course, royalties (for illustration) can help offset a high start-up cost. An overall flat fee is customary, and you may find something cheaper, as was already stated, in a bulk deal. If it's only graphic design that you are looking for, and it's not complicated work, you're far more likely to succeed in finding someone willing to simply do layout work for a good price. So yeah... you have to be real serious about it. Remember, a good artist and quality materials are investments. Also, I second Mr. Nick Hayes. Hope this is helpful. "


I want to add in the cost for a professional also likely includes *limited* changes if you don't like the initial artwork/sketch and needs to be changed. You're paying for the person's time, resources and skill in working on the artwork, so while it may seem high per piece, you're also paying for the quality of the final product and on a specified timeline that the professional will meet and will be working on carefully to the deadline.


EDIT: Should have added the link - http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/670229/the-cost-of-artists

-Rob A>

Gamerprinter
07-21-2011, 12:38 PM
Wow, GP, you ARE busy! :)

Well, the map is finished and I have permission to post it. Perhaps I'll start a new thread with the picture... idk. how does one post a picture in this forum anyway?

And now that I am freelancing for Paizo, it looks like they are 'spinning gears on ways to keep me constantly busy', so likely I have and endless array of freelance cartography and game development at least for the next few years - we'll see how that goes.

GP

jfrazierjr
07-21-2011, 02:11 PM
Cool find Rob... I just posted a quick reply re: copyright vs license....

Star-dreamer
07-26-2011, 08:43 PM
Well, I can't figure out how to post jpegs, so here is the link: http://dragonblade99.deviantart.com/art/Map-for-quot-Offspring-quot-211168481

Done digitally, but all the brushes used are mine, done freehand. I'm gonna start practicing some pencil work too, pretty soon.

:D Thanks again for all the advice. *thumbs up*

jfrazierjr
07-26-2011, 09:59 PM
Pretty nice.. you need to fix the shading on your desert hills/sanddunes though... the dark is on the wrong side from everything else!!!