SCBWI Metro newsletter Spring 2005
For the past two years our market, like most US Industry, has been "slow and depressed." A most challenging time for all artists! But the assignment pendulum seems to be swinging in our favor more recently. The vistas have begun to clear, the sky to blue, and brighter days are here again!...but with some gray clouds that need to be observed.
There seem to be three main 'cloudy' areas, particularly in the 'bread and butter' Educational area: lower compensation (and late payments), faster deadlines (and unscheduled finish dates), and the continuing of rights issues. We seemed to have made some inroads in these three areas prior to the 'slowdown' but some slippage has occurred. After months/years of little or no work, many artists are afraid to turn anything down. Nothing wrong with that!...work and getting paid is good! Do protest however. I'm worried that accepting work with the current terms we are hurting future art assignments. Do push for better ...gently, but loud enough that they HEAR YOU.
First, quickly, let me look at the Trade picture book market which generally tends not to swing as dramatically as educational publishing. The advances tend to stay about the same in respective houses. Working time frames are pretty consistent. Royalty advances, and flat fees, are based on carefully worked out "P&L" (profit and loss) statements/reports, and the editors know about what they can afford to offer for that particular book or artist. I did hear recently on a trip to big publishers in NYC however, that FEWER books, particularly picture books, are being bought. There has been an 'over publishing of picture books' apparently and so they aren't selling as well. Too much choice! Houses are concentrating on books they KNOW will sell over the 10,000 copy mark...which often means KNOWN authors and artists. Short sighted to me, and not good for new and less famous artists.