Kill Fees

"I just lost a project due to an editor changing his mind, but the A.D. said I'd get a kill fee. Is there a standard on how much? Is it a percentage of the agreed price of the work?

- -Nicole"

Hi, Nicole,

I've gotten 1/3 unless sketches have already been done, then it was 1/2. The last one was because too much art and stories had been assigned to fit in the book. The publishing house was cramming so much work into too short a time that marketing, editors and designers didn't coordinate. Got paid 1/2 on the sketches.

Sorry about the project being lost.


Hi Nicole, I have been through the kill fee thing and have been paid half of the total price and any completed art was sent back to me.


The kill fees I have had in my contracts would pay me 1/2 of the project amount. It is always a good thing to have and I wouldn't work without it!


Date: Fri, 22 Jan 1999 14:10:19 -0800
From: Paul Basista
Subject: Re: illustration: kill fee

Regarding "kill" fees (cancellations due to no fault of the artist), industry practice indicates that the fee is usually linked to the degree of completion. If you've already turned in finished art, you should expect 100% of the fee. If the project is killed at the preliminary stage, then 50% of the negotiated fee is usually paid.
- --
Paul Basista, CAE
Executive Director
Graphic Artists Guild

I think the practice of 'killing' an art assignment is fairly common. From my recent experience that about 40% of all assignments are either postponed, canceled or modified in some state from the original conception. When an art director calls with a job proposal... I no longer count it as a bird in hand, and find keeping a mental distance from any assumptions about anything to be very beneficial. Helps avoid defeated expectations.

I know it's weird, but I have to say that one of the things I value most after all these years of free-lancing is this mental state of distance from expectations. I guess it's impossible to teach... and can only be gained through much accumulation of scar tissue. But it works for me.... remember... "Just say NO to stress".


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