Posted by: nancyisanders | June 3, 2010

Welcome to My World

The life of a writer certainly has it’s moments! Today the mail brought me two deliveries. I thought you might like to take a peek at what I found inside my mailbox.

Stuffed inside my mailbox (and I mean stuffed!) was a package containing 25 author copies of a children’s magazine I write for. I ripped open the package and held the magazine in my hands.

To my delight, I discovered that my story had made the cover art! Can you imagine my excitement as I flipped through the pages of the magazine and found my story come to life for the very first time through the wonderful art and design the publisher provided on the printed pages.

This story was especially meaningful to me because the editor had asked me to create a whole new series of characters that I will write stories about who can dance through the pages of their magazine from time to time over the next few years. This was the first story of the series! And therefore it was the first time I got to SEE my characters via the eyes of the illustrator. I was not disappointed! What a joy this was and a highlight of my career.

After dancing around for a joy for awhile, I went back to the mail and read through my other items. My heart quickened…I could see that one of the envelopes held a royalty check! I ripped it open…and laughed.

It was the smallest royalty check I think I have ever received. Weighing in at a whopping $1.34, I wondered if they had spent more money printing out the royalty statement and on a postage stamp than they were paying me. This minuscule check was a reminder that my two series of books with this publisher had gone out of print.

Ah yes! Such is the life of a writer. We experience highs and we experience lows. These threads all weave together to give our life the taste and smell and feel of a writer’s life. Yes, we are writers!


  1. Great post, Nancy! And SO true. This is the real world of writing…and I am happy for your continuing new series in a children’s magazine 🙂


  2. Bravo!!
    can’t we see a scan of the magazine???

    yesterday one of my stories was accepted to be part of a book of severall stories about “écologie”. I had fellt rather negativ about it because it is very poorly payed.
    But I thought about what you said in your book “Yes you can” and I decided it was part of the deal to be a working author !!!!
    So I got excited and pleased to see I was having a gifted ilustrator!

    What do you think about the work of an author or of the illustrator?
    Here, in France they tend to consider the illustrator should be getting more % then an author.
    Our work is really put down.
    How is it on your side of the world? Of course I am talking of picture books.

    • Thank you, Nicole! And yes, here’s a picture of the magazine’s cover at this link (It’s the picture of the squirrel on the unicycle and it says “Showtime!”

    • A hearty congratulations on your story acceptance. Yes, this is a big accomplishment in your career as a working writer! Wahoo for you!

      And actually, I don’t know how it works with the percentage an illustrator makes for a picture book. Typically here in the United States, the author earns 7-10 percent of the royalty sales, but I’m not sure how the illustrator is paid. That’s a good question to ask some of my illustrator friends! I’ll pose that to them and see if they can give me some insight.

  3. Thanks Nancy!
    Here we have alot of these conversations about why an illustrator has to earn more then an author!
    Our% is between 2 and 5%…
    And with 5% we are truly lucky!
    and more the publisher is important, more the % goes down!

    I saw the squirrel! It looks full of hapiness!

  4. Nicole, an illustrator friend, Steve Bjorkman, shared with me this morning in response to your question:

    “As I understand and have experienced it, there is a split between author and illustrator. 5% to each. I imagine the celebrity of an author (movie star, political figure, etc.) allows them to structure a different deal.”

    So, Steve confirms what I have experienced, too, that there’s more of an even split between author and illustrator here in the states unless of course one of them is a celebrity.

    (Thanks for sharing, Steve!)

  5. yes thanks for sharing, thanks for asking!
    Publishers tend to split evenly but some don’t… and the author will always have less. I feel that on the long run and over years, it is unfair.
    yes an illustratror will spend many hours working, but why would he earn more all the books life?
    🙂 I said I was for 50/50. One illustrator said she would never work with me because of that !!
    she wants 2/3 and the author can have 1/3!
    Of course it isn’t easy to convince them, infact it is impossible to convince them it is fair to be 50/50!!
    Happily for the moment it isn’t really our decision, but the publishers!
    You feel that for most illustrators the work of an author is kind of second rate!!(difficult for me to explain it in english!)

    I am going to visit your friends blog!
    encore merci for your experience!

    • Okay, here’s a little bit more info, Nicole. Steve asked his agent and his agent said:

      “Author can get X for an advance and illustrator can get Y, but they split the royalties down the middle.”

      (Thanks again, Steve, for this helpful insight!)

      Here in the states I’ve felt that publishers value both the author’s and illustrator’s input on the book. I like to think of us as being a team to both help bring the picture book to life.

      It’s too bad it sounds like from your experience in your country that an author might not be valued as much. I think one of the great things we have going here in the United States is a strong presence with the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators. It’s a community for both the authors and the illustrators and so I find we all tend to support each other and value each other’s worth as part of the same team.

  6. yes, we also have sometimes more for the illustrator regarding the advance.(not always)
    I suppose it is the french spirit…
    And in the States I think you have more people who believe in God, and are filled with another kind of spirit!
    Perhaps that’s where the difference comes from!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: