Saturday, February 16, 2013

Do I need photographs?

Dear Mr. Lukeman, I have written a novel in the historical fiction genre, and I have identified seven photographs that I want to include. I have already begun the process of securing rights to them, and it doesn't look like there will be any problems. My question is: if I send out a query letter to an agent, and the agent wants to see part or all of the manuscript, I think it's important that I send the pictures along with the prose - do I need to have already paid for the rights to the photos, or can I just note that I don't have the rights yet (i.e. haven't paid for them) but that the owner is known and the rights are securable?
First of all, keep in mind that most novels, whether historical or not, do NOT include photographs. You might want them in, but chances are that, assuming you sell it, your editor will not. So I would not recommend your doing all this legwork.

For those of you who are considering inserting photos in your book, keep in mind the following:

If your editor agrees to insert photographs, then you will have to supply them (i.e. pay for them). This can be quite costly. I've seen photo permissions cost $400 to $1,000 or more per picture. Depends where you get them from. It's possible they can be less, but regardless, they will cost you. Unless you turn to public domain images--which editors may or may not want.

Additionally, it can take MONTHS to get all the written paperwork done for permissions for the photos. Thus editors begin this process early. Many times it causes a problem, when the work needs to go to press and photos are not signed off on.

Also keep in mind that you will need to secure WORLDWIDE rights to photos, something that authors frequently overlook. If your publisher controls world rights they will need this--and if you or your agent control world, then you will need this. The time to do it is upfront, not later. And this can increase the cost.

Also keep in mind that if your manuscript includes photos then legally the publisher only has to pay you on delivery and acceptance of ALL materials--thus if you deliver your manuscript and the photos aren't cleared for many more months, you won't get your advance delivery payment until then.

In any case, a discussion of photos is not one to be having when it comes to fiction--and especially at the stage of seeking an agent.

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