Some illustrators and designers base their prices on an hourly rate, others have a set cost per illustration or design. Established publishers generally offer royalty agreements. Self-publishers generally seek One-Time Flat Fee. There are a lot of different ways to establish pricing within the industry so it’s hard to give a blanket value to the service.
Shop around and see what’s out there. The biggest mistake is looking for bottom dollar since you’ll probably get mediocre work. And what’s the point of publishing your manuscript with bad illustrations or poor design?
A lot of the Print-On Demand services and self-publishing companies offer Packages as a way to make the process seem simplified. Much of my business comes from authors that realize that what the packages offer are marked up prices on Illustration Services that they outsource to the lowest bidder and streamline the communication, with the only guarantee being to do the bare minimum to meet the customer’s expectations.
What I have learned from years of working with authors wanting to self-publish is that they assume that these companies operate in a similar way to the classic business model of publishing houses. They don’t, at all. Most authors wrongly assume that experience, direction and a respect for their creative vision will be part of the deal. It’s not. The reason that publishing in the traditional way is so hard, and the return initially so low, is because they are investing in the success of your book in the marketplace. They generally aren’t risk-takers and have a team of experts dedicated to adding all the necessary bells and whistles to make your book a success. Self-publishers don’t have a vested interest in the appearance or marketability of your book. Their business model is based on facilitating whatever investment you are willing to make in your book up front. Most of the people you will be dealing with will only have customer service experience and know what services to sell you on. That is their business, facilitating the process of self-publishing by upselling services they outsource. Many offer all the services of traditional publishing but it is pretty much always outsourced.
Meaning that you are paying about twice as much as what the illustrator is providing for the service. True, you won’t have to contact the illustrator directly or assume the risks of working with a freelancer. Which can be a big risk if you are inexperienced and don’t know where to start your search. But if you find the right graphic artist to work with, the rewards are well worth the effort.
This is the main reason why I decided to offer my services directly to authors. I can offer the same services that the middle men offer at much less and I have a vested interest in producing my best work.
Here are some of the Illustration services offered by the POD companies, should you choose to go that route: