Pricing & Negotiating: Book Cover For Politician’s Memoir

by Craig Oppenheimer Wonderful Machine

Shoot Concept: Seamless and environmental portraits of a prominent politician.

Licensing: Use of up to two images on the front/back cover of a book with a print run of up to 200,000.

Location:  A state capitol building in the Northeast.

Shoot Days: 1

Photographer: Corporate and portraiture specialist

Client: Large publishing company

Here is the estimate:

estimate_redacted

Concept/Licensing:            

The publishing company was working with an active politician to create and distribute his memoir, and they asked the photographer to capture a few seamless and environmental portraits for the front and back covers. The assignment was pretty straightforward, but they needed the shoot to take place within a few days in a non-local city to the photographer, and given the subject, we knew that the photographer would have very little time to actually shoot the subject. These factors put upward pressure on the fee since it required a skilled photographer to work in these conditions and complete the project within a very tight timeframe.

The photographer completed a nearly identical project for the same publisher a few years ago, and while he couldn’t recall the print run of the book, the publisher agreed to a fee of $8,500 plus expenses. A quick chat with the publisher’s art director led me to believe that they were willing to pay the same amount this time, but they hoped to keep the bottom line around $15,000. The fee sounded healthy for the print run, but it did include two images, and I anticipated that their contract might include rights that would put additional upward pressure on an appropriate fee.

Just for reference, I did check the fee against a few pricing resources. Corbis suggested a rate of $1,258, but their options max out at a print run of 30,000. For a print run higher than 30,000, they ask that you contact them. Getty suggested $2,325 for a print run of up to 250,000 including electronic distribution, and Fotoquote suggested a rate up to $2,835 for a similar print run. If I didn’t know what the publishing company paid previously, I may have priced the two images around $2,750 each, and then added on a creative fee of a few thousand dollars, which happens to bring the fee close to $8,500. This (along with previous experience) reassured me that the fee was appropriate.

Photographer Travel/Pre-Production: The photographer planned to fly to the location the day before the shoot, and since the actual shooting time would likely wrap before noon, he planned to catch a flight back that same day. Additionally, he’d spend a considerable amount of time beforehand to coordinate his crew and make travel arrangements. We figured that getting there and back would add up to a full day, and added on a second day to account for the pre-production.

Assistants: Both assistants would be driving to the location from a major metropolitan city, but since the location was still a good distance from them, we figured they’d drive up the night before the shoot as well (bringing us to one shoot day, and two half-travel days). The first assistant would be responsible for renting an SUV and coordinating the equipment rental, so we added an extra day at a lower rate for him to do so beforehand.

Hair/Makeup Stylist: This is typically much lower than the rate I’d include for a hair/makeup stylist, but they were local to the remote location and offered to work a half day at this rate. We originally anticipated that the stylist would travel in with the assistants, and I’d typically anticipated a day-rate of up to $1,200 if that was the case. However, I wasn’t going to argue with the local stylist’s rate, especially since we knew the travel expenses would likely put us over the client’s suggested budget of $15,000.

SUV Rental: This covered three days to rent a large SUV big enough for the two assistants and the equipment ($475), fuel ($100) and insurance ($125).

Lodging: While we probably could have gotten away with a cheap hotel around $100/night (or less), we anticipated having to pay higher rates since the reservations would be made just a day before traveling. I figured $200/night for three rooms would be plenty.

Equipment Rental: The photographer would bring his camera and a minimal amount of gear, but the first assistant would still need to pick up a backup body with multiple lenses ($500), a roll of paper and stands for the seamless backdrop ($100), as well as various lighting/grip equipment including backups ($1,500). The backup equipment pushed the rental fees up a bit, but when you only have a few minutes with a subject, you better be prepared if your equipment fails.

Airfare: Rates for flights were about $500, and I anticipated paying $50 in baggage fees both ways.

Shoot Processing for Client Review: This covered the time it would take the photographer to download, edit, color process, rename files and deliver a web gallery for the publisher to review.

Selects Processed for Reproduction: The photographer would further process the two final images that the publisher selected, and he anticipated it taking less than an hour per image.

Miles, Parking, Meals, Taxi, Misc.: I included a $75/day/person “per diem” to cover meals for the photographer and his assistants for both the travel and shoot days ($450 total), as well as $100 for the taxi the photographer would take to/from the airport and $200 for unanticipated miscellaneous expenses.

Results: Despite the fact that our estimate was above their suggested budget, the photographer was quickly awarded the job and completed the assignment two days later. While the publisher signed our estimate/terms, they also provided us with the following contract:

contract_original_Redacted

The formatting and organization of the contract was a bit confusing, and it seemed like a combination of a “fill in the blank” document (a lot of which was already filled out by the art director) and a “choose your own adventure” novel (especially section 4). In addition to some reformatting, I made the following changes:

– I noted that there would be 2 selected final images

– In section 4, I clarified that they’d pay the photographer $10,000 (his creative/licensing fee plus his travel/pre-production fees) plus expenses.

– I initially clarified that the rights included in section 5 were for a print run of up to 200,000. However, the publisher’s rights manager preferred to not include that language. He said “occasionally [we] exceed our estimates, and we do not want to find ourselves in violation of the terms of our own agreement if the book surpasses expectations.” We were willing to remove the language about the print run, but I wanted the photographer to benefit from the use of his photos in future editions (including foreign language editions) of the book. I revised this section to state that they can use the photos in the “initial English language edition” only. It could be printed and distributed abroad, but not in any other language.

– Further down in section 5, they asked to detail a pre-determined rate for subsequent paperback editions. We noted that the photographer would receive 50% of his creative/licensing fee for use of his photos on the first English language paperback trade or mass-market editions of the book. This was based on the agreed upon percentage from his previous project with the publisher, plus our experience and knowledge of other publishing contracts.

– Lastly, I noted in section 7 that the photographer would retain self-promotional rights to the images.

Here is the revised version of the contract:

contract_revised_Redacted

The publishing company accepted our revisions, and the book will be in stores within the next few months.

If you have any questions, or if you need help estimating or producing a project, please give us a call at (610) 260-0200. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs—from small stock sales to big ad campaigns.

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