I am a freelance illustrator. A new publishing house reached me some months ago. They want to hire me to illustrate a book they were about to publish.
I ask for information about the project and they send me their phone number right away and ask to meet in a cafeteria to talk things more. I don´t normally meet with clients personally, but I decided to give them a chance.
I met with a woman and a man, both in the 40s. We talked about children’s books and the publishing house they are working for. Turns out, the man is the writer for the book, a retelling of a classic children book and he wants me to illustrate it in a detailed way. Whenever I tried to bring up the budget, they changed the subject. This happened several times, which was a major red flag.
Also, it was only the man talking, even an hour in. He kept describing what is writing is going to “achieve.”
Client: Illustration is going to be so very important for this project.
The meeting ended. I spent time thinking about how to price the book. It was the first in a series, so I thought it might be worth giving a low price for the first book to make sure I could illustrate the next four books and sent a very competitive offer.
The author responded immediately.
Client: I’m offended, and frankly hurt, that you would ask for so much!
That’s not all he said. In fact, he sent his response in a three page PDF full of emotional blackmail. At one point, he asked why a cover illustration would cost more than an in-book illustration.
The client asked to meet me in person to discuss the project. I declined because I knew I wasn’t going to do the job if that’s what he thought of my attempts to get paid a fair wage. Also, I just didn’t feel comfortable meeting him alone.
He responded in a huge email.
Client: You’re missing out on a great opportunity. I trusted you with my dream, and I chose you because I think your art could capture my words. I would have thanked you whenever I accepted an award. If you could see fit to work within my budget I think we could make something really great. I was looking forward to working with you – you’re so talented and beautiful. I think I’m going to miss you.
I dodged a bullet.