A Writer’s Guide To Hiring An Artist

It happened again. I saw a Reddit post on here (r/ComicBookCollabs) by a writer looking for an artist. Like so often happens, the writer in need was not in a position to pay. It was a “for exposure” opportunity. I just couldn’t not say something. The advice I gave this person, made me think a post of my own would be of merit. Here’s my advice to all writers who want to hire an artist.

The Way It Goes

I know how this goes because this is how I got here. This is a true story.

You have a script, maybe just the first issue, maybe something longer, and you pick up a pencil and do some sketches. After about 2 minutes you throw the pencil down and say, “**** it, I should just hire an artist. I mean, my script rocks so hard they’d probably do it just for the exposure.”

Then you hop on here (r/ComicBookCollabs) and you post a call for collaborations. The words: for exposure and 50/50 royalties are included. Nobody responds.

“What gives?” you ask.

And you wait and wait, and about a week later someone responds to your post. You see the notification and you rush to read the comment. You’re disappointed, it’s not the artist of your dreams prostrating themselves (digitally) so to work on your script. No.

Instead, its a miffed artist telling you that, “…look, buddy, if you want professional level art you need to pay for it. Doesn’t matter how great your script is, artists spend hundreds of hours perfecting their craft. You don’t cash in on that without paying.”

“But I’ll pay 50% of any royalties we make,” you tell this ***hole who is obviously just full of themselves.

And this ***hole responds, “You’re probably not going to make any royalties and it’s unfair to artists to use their talents without ensuring payment.”

And you think, What does that Redditor know?

So you look through this subreddit (r/ComicBookCollabs) and see some of the (for hire) artists. They all charge so much. Why should you pay them when you’re not making any money.

And then it dawns on you. Dang, if I’m going to get an artist I really like, I’m going to have to pay.

So you make another call for submissions. This time, you write the magic words into it: Will Pay.

Within hours you get a flurry of activity. Artists linking you their portfolios in the form of Google Drive Folders, DeviantArt pages, Tumblr blogs, and more.

You begin sifting through all this amazing art. You find some artists that you like. You find some that you REALLY like.

You message your favorite of the lot and ask them what the going rates for their services are. The dreaded number returns. $200 per page for inks, colors, and letters.

You think about this.

You ask yourself: do I believe in my script?

You answer: yes.

You ask yourself: do I believe this is the right artist for my story?

You answer: yes.

You asked yourself: if I believe in my script, shouldn’t I do everything in my power to make my comic as awesome as I think it is?

Answer: yes.

Ask yourself: does this mean paying the artist of your dreams the professional industry rate.

And this is where I found myself. I told myself: YES!

This is my script, my story, and I love it, and I think other people might love it also, but in order to give this script, this story, the best chance, it means top dollar. It means paying an artist what they deserve. It means keeping an artist excited to illustrate my story, your story because it doesn’t feel like a burden to them. Instead, they know I’m going, you’re going to great lengths to pay them what they’re worth, and this makes them want to deliver a top product. And when you get those sketches, those proofs, that finished page, I know and you will too, that the money was worth it. Because DAMN! this comic is going to be awesome.

Take this as you wish, authors, grain of salt or not. This is my experience of hiring an artist. I will always pay top dollar when I believe in my script. It’s the best way to give my story a chance in an industry crowded with amazing writes, artists, and stories.

I hope this was helpful



My Year of Short Stories: Dec 12th, The Last Dance by Jack McDevitt, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2017


A story about a man who replaces his late wife with a holographic digital image of her. The software is comprised of his memories, her legal documents, social networks, family recollections, etc. The only difference between his wife and this A.I. representation of her is that he can not touch this holographic A.I.

The man also has a daughter in third grade. The daughter is much less enthusiastic in welcoming this mother-replacement.

After some time the A.I begins to question the narrator about whether he has other women in his life. At first, readers might think this is another cliche of an A.I. becoming jealous, but it’s quickly revealed that the A.I. wants the narrator to begin to see other women. Find someone else. Move on from his wife’s death. The A.I. says it is part of the process. The reason he paid for the service. It is a tool that helps people get over loss, and as his mother had died just a year before his wife, the A.I. was supposed to be utilized as a tool. However, the narrator is not able to let go. The A.I. leaves, disappears, and the narrator is left distraught, only for his mother (or the A.I. version of his mother) to come into the room and comfort him.

A had a few issues with this piece in terms of making sense of the world. First, the A.I. hologram was a one-time purchase in the story, but by the end, the A.I. wife tells him she’s leaving and that’s he’ll receive a partial refund. From a business standpoint, this makes no sense at all. No business would create a product that is refundable if it runs its course. If anything, the A.I. would be programmed to stay with him and help him through everything in order to avoid any potential refund. This could have been done as a subscription.

Second, The mother A.I. showing up in the end sorta came out of left field for me. The mother’s death was mentioned twice in the piece, but there’s no hint that the narrator would have brought her back like this.

Third, the dialogue between the narrator and his 3rd-grade daughter doesn’t feel or sound natural. I substitute teach (sometimes in 3rd-grade classrooms) and it felt like the daughter in this piece was older than that. (C-)

My Year of Short Stories: Dec 5th-Dec 6th

December 5th, 2017, The Girl Waits by Jennifer Haupt, Flash Fiction Online, 2017.

Blurb: This is a flash fiction piece that pulls a ton of weight and creates a lasting impact on readers. It is about a young girl in Rwanda, hiding during the genocidal purge by the Hutus against Tutsi’s in 1994. In such a short piece it is often difficult to get the ideas across, but Haupt dances around the lengthy explanations that could have bogged this piece down and uses brevity to show the bleakness of the time. It is a touching piece. One that this reader will likely be thinking about when I sit down to write my own flash pieces in the future. (B+)

December 6th, 2017, Steadfast by Charity Tahmaseb, Flash Fiction Online, 2017.

Blurb: This is a rather wonderful short story about a woman in the military and a man who is a ballet dancer. She falls in love with him at a wedding and everything revolves around their feet. How military boots gnarl feet just as ballet slippers do. Even for such a small piece, there’s a ton of heartfelt interaction between the two. Readers are treated to the fears of this young woman getting involved with someone who is so much different than herself. The connections between the two are well built and it’s a wonderful snapshot of a budding romance. (B+)