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Pros & Cons of Working with an Art Publisher

Pros & Cons of Working with an Art Publisher

Carolyn Edlund | ArtsyShark

Working with a publisher can be fabulous and frustrating and economically smart. You will need a serious reality check working with a publisher because nothing happens overnight. Instant success is a nice phrase but far removed from reality. Patience is key to your success as well as thinking long term.

There are advantages and disadvantages of choosing to work with a publisher. So let’s make a list:


1. Big budget.
2. They do all the marketing
3. They deal with legal issues
4. You can create while they do all the publishing work.


1. Give up part of the royalty
2. They can drop you
3. They tell you what to do (this could be an advantage too)
4. It’s takes a long time to see a return

Publishers are the ones making all the decisions about what to publish, when to publish and who to sell it to. You don’t get to control this however you get to make art and they spend the money to market it. Though you are leaving it in their hands you are also working with companies that have a long history (hopefully) and the know-how and brains behind the operation to figure out how to make money. If they don’t sell your art they don’t make money so it is of course to their advantage to sell it and then you get to reap the rewards by getting a royalty check. You will like that. I promise.

The disadvantages are simple. You give up a certain amount of control over your art. The publisher may give you direction and then you may be asked to revise it and maybe you think it’s perfect but they don’t. That’s the way the game plays. They aren’t perfect and the publisher may be going in the wrong direction. That’s why it’s important to have good communication with the art director. Don’t be shy about offering suggestions or reasons behind why you have rendered an image in a certain way. If the art director isn’t willing to listen you may need to rethink the relationship.

A publisher will usually work on a royalty basis so that you will receive a percentage of the sales. This percentage can be as low as 5% or as much as 20%. Make sure you know what this number is and are happy with it. A publisher may negotiate but there is generally an industry standard of 10% so expect that. Royalty payments are usually paid quarterly if a minimum royalty is earned.

If the publisher is not making any money on you they may decide to drop your contract. It is frustrating but they are making an investment and must believe in the investment. If that happens ask them to be candid and give an honest reason for dropping you. If you know why, this will help you in working with another publisher or going on your own.

Next: Advantages of Self-Publishing →

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