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Photography Question 
Kelly S. Andrews
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2002

Usual split between writer and photog on book?

My photographs are published regularly in magazines and calendars and now I have been offerred a contract to work with a writer on a book where I will do all of the photography. Is there a "usual" split in the advance and royalties? The writer did all of the upfront work, pitching the idea to several publishers, etc. It will be more story than photographs, but we agreed it should have many beautiful photographs including at least one for each chapter (29 chapters). I want to have an idea of where I should start with my negotiations.

Thanks in advance.

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8/29/2007 11:50:42 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Splitting with a consideration of who did all the talking sounds like that would factor importantly if this is a partnership deal. As in a company that brings in profits where an amount can be divided up.
On the other hand, if this writer is looking at this not as a partnership, but in looking to use somebody's photos, then to me you should start out basing things on number of pictures used, the number of books published, and a length of time to use them.
The usual licensing of photos isn't a partnership. A publisher, ad agency, or whoever, doesn't go into business with a photographer per se, they just want to use their photos for the cheapest price they can get.
Now I can see good and bad in both scenarios. With a partnership, maybe you get to use only your photos, but maybe the writer wants them all for one lump sum. At that gets in the way of how typically photogs have higher rates for cover shots, two page shots, etc...
The other way, you can negotiate for licensing use and for how long, but maybe the writer wants stuff on the cheap and she looks elsewhere.
But I guess you could a try a deal where you license the photos, and split profits for the books sold 65-35 since she did the legwork.
Scary side of business.

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8/29/2007 1:39:37 PM

Kelly S. Andrews
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2002
  Thank you for your response. Actually, this is a partnership where we are going to the places together for her to do the interviews and I will shoot the photos. I will be signing a contract with the publisher along with the writer. There is one advance payment which I think is around $1,000 and then there is a royalty from the sales which is a percentage of the wholesale price. My question is of the $1,000 advance, I don't think the split should be 50/50, but perhaps 65/35 would be a good number. The same with the royalties? I don't want to sell myself short, but I think she does have more work with the writing piece and she was the one who did all of the upfront legwork to get the deal. I was just wondering if there is a "usual" split that most pros use.

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8/29/2007 5:46:09 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Well, there's a website called that had the transcipts from conference where pro photographers were giving advice and answering questions for other pro photogs, and one said there's no such thing as standard.
I know in your case you probably have more optimism than somebody who's dealt a lot with contracts, but from the article they were saying don't believe it when somebody tells you something is standard. Everything's negotiable.
So I guess you can take less than 50% to not feel guilty, but doesn't mean it's necessary. Try 45, or 40, or any number. If the writer doesn't agree, you negotiate down.

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8/29/2007 6:30:19 PM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  One thing I've learned with negotiations is that the first person who mentions a number loses.

Think about it; if you offer to take 35%, what if she counters with 30%? You'll certainly never get MORE than 35%.

Bring up the fact that you expect the writer to share the advance with you, to cover your expenses (as the advance is covering hers as well). Let HER make the original offer. If she offers half, take it. If she offers 25% ask for 50% and take 40%.

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8/30/2007 11:22:42 PM

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