Q: What do I do when a children’s publisher requires authors to submit images?
Nancy I. Sanders
A: I was required to submit 50 images for my nonfiction children’s book America’s Black Founders: Revolutionary Heroes & Early Leaders. The first thing I did when offered the contract was chat with the editor about the types of images he wanted. He said I could use current photographs of historic sites or historic images of paintings, photographs and documents.
Each publisher has its own preferences, so it’s important to understand the types of images your publisher requires. If you’re not sure, look at its current books or magazines. Also examine the photograph credits listed inside these books or magazines to see what kinds of sources were used to obtain the photographs.Some publishers provide a budget to cover the cost of the images that the author will acquire, and other publishers pay an advance against royalties that the author is expected to use to help pay for the images. Still other publishers do not provide an advance, but expect the author to pay for images out of pocket. These details are usually spelled out in the contract.
Most publishers require high-resolution digital images, but different publishers prefer different formats. Some use JPEG files; others prefer TIFF files. Some use color; others prefer black and white. Most require that images have a specific resolution, such as 300 dpi, or dots per inch, along with size parameters.
Do not hesitate to ask for help as you begin your project to ensure you are acquiring images that meet your publisher's standards. Publishers who require an author to submit images often have an editor or graphics person who is willing to train authors and work closely with them through the process.When collecting images for America’s Black Founders, I discovered fantastic photographs posted on sites such as Flickr. I offered these photographers full credit if they would allow me free use of their images in my book. Many were interested and excited to participate.
Because image files can be too large to e-mail, you may have to send your editor test samples on a disc or via free online services such as Transfer Big Files.
When I contacted historic sites or libraries, places such as the Library of Congress provided certain images for free, but charged set fees for others. Fees ranged from $10 per image at smaller organizations to $150 per image at larger organizations to $1,500 from private companies. These prices reflected permission for single use of one image in a children’s book with a 5,000-copy print run.
Even though the organizations provided the images, I still was responsible for researching who owned the copyright for each image. Most of these organizations sent me permission forms, but for some smaller sites, I provided a permission form that they signed for each image I acquired from them.For a new children’s book contract that I recently signed, I took a two-week photo research tour along the East Coast with my family. We called various historic sites ahead of time to obtain permission to come and take photographs. Each different site, from private residences to those owned by the National Park Service, had different ways of handling my request.
Providing photographs and images for several of my books has been a very rewarding and exciting adventure. It can be for you, too!