Cover Photo


Payment After Publication, Pt. 2

By Jeremy McHugh | 15/04/2014
Click here to read the first part of this article.

What does this type of contract say about a publisher when they make this offer?

1) The publisher is poorly funded. They do not currently have the means to pay the artist that they wish to hire. If the project fails, they have no way to meet their obligations in the short term. You may have to wait for a long time before payment is made in full (if ever).

2) The publisher is a poor financial risk. They could not convince a lending institution to front them the money for their business venture and are therefore reliant on nontraditional sources of funding. They need “Love Money” to meet their goals. Unless you are a rich relative of the publisher, you will have to give serious consideration to whether or not to jump on board.

3) ( The least charitable view) ——The publisher would prefer that you accept the financial risk and pay the interest on their debt so they do not have to. The rewards will go to them. The risks will belong to you. Ask yourself why, in an age where you can accept credit cards via paypal, that your publisher cannot pay you what is owed on completion?

4) (The most charitable view) ——The publisher simply does not know any better.

I do not write this as condemnation of all publishers who promote this practice. The companies that require these types of contracts may never have even thought about it in this way. Some were told, “This is just how it’s always been in publishing”, and did not question it. Many artists followed suit (myself included).

But, there’s good news. It is both forgivable and fixable!

For one thing, we can stop calling it “ deferred payment” or “ payment after publication”. Let’s call it what it really is.

This is a business to business loan. Treat it that way.

Companies extend credit to each other in other industries all the time. If you are comfortable with deferring payment, then let it be because you have structured a deal that is in your best interests.

It is important to do the following when structuring a contract that calls for deferred payment:

1) Assess interest after 30 days for an agreeable percentage of the debt owed to you by the publisher. You will be charged interest on the loan you are extending to the publisher as you borrow money to maintain your own cash flow. You must pass it along to the publisher as a standard practice.

2) Set the date for when payment is expected to be made in full. This means agreeing on a calendar date for publication and a grace period following publication.

3) Assess penalties for late payment. Standard artist contracts have penalties outlined for late delivery of artwork. Penalties for late payment should also be present in the interest of a fair and equal contract.

4) ( Optional, but highly recommended)
It might also not be a bad idea to seek a deposit in advance of publication as a sign of good faith ( 50% is typical ) .

If a publisher seeks a loan, but refuses these reasonable terms, then I would recommend being extremely cautious in accepting assignments from them and for all the reasons I stated above.

It is time for creators to reconsider writing blank checks for their clients.
It is time for clients to reconsider asking for them.


Jeremy McHugh

Jeremy McHugh is a freelance illustrator who has worked in the tabletop gaming industry since 2001.

He has worked on a wide variety of popular fantasy lines creating book interiors, covers, and card art.

He is also a Co-Host on The Ninja Mountain Podcast, a web radio program dedicated to the art and business of freelance illustration.

You can learn more about Jeremy and his work at his studio website located at

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