When that happens, it’s a good idea to know a few things that will help you navigate the waters. So here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Agents (and some publishing companies) will typically ask you for a processing fee when you submit your work. This is because it takes a lot of time to sift and sort through all of the submissions that they receive and they cannot work for free, otherwise they could not be doing what they are doing, which is helping artists make money.
- Also, if an agent likes your work and decides to represent you, there will usually be a small fee involved with taking you on, as well. This fee helps them to defray the initial costs of the things that they need to do in order to get you up to speed with their company, so they have everything that they need in order to represent you. (Things such as paying their web person to include you on the website.)
- I do not recommend ever giving up the rights to your images. Although some companies will insist on this, I do not think it is worth it. There are more than enough companies out there who are willing to work with artists in a way that is mutually beneficial: you retain the rights to print and sell your work, and they pay you a commission every time they buy or sell your work. Be very careful before you sign a contract! Make sure you know exactly what the terms and conditions are before you sign, or you might make big mistakes that will haunt you down the road. If you can, have a lawyer look over it with you.
- On the same token, many agents or publishing companies will insist that you do not compete directly with them. This means if you are licensing your image to sell on napkin holders, you promise that you will not license them on another company who is also selling napkin holders. Or, if they are selling fine art prints of your work, you agree not to sell them somewhere else at a lower price. This is only fair to agree to this, and I highly recommend that you don’t break this agreement.
- Imaging costs are always the responsibility of the artist – which means that you need to provide high resolution digital images of all the work that they want to license from you, and you must pay for it. (More on this in next week’s post.)
Next week we will talk about ways that you can optimize your work (and your mindset) in order to work with these publishing companies and actually make sales!