1. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Question about Royalties

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Thomas Kitchen, Apr 7, 2014.

    Hi all,

    I've written a script for a graphic novel and would like it to be traditionally published, and I've been in touch with an artist who lives less than an hour away. I love their work and believe it would suit the story and characters, and she's very keen to get on board as well.

    When we'd emailed each other a few times, she said this:

    "So to begin with, I would suggest a fee of say £___ to mock a dummy of layouts and 4 spreads as artwork to clients and publishers.
    If they are happy, we can then discuss royalties etc with the publisher as they would create the book's selling cost and we can divulge royalty prices from there on."

    I was a little taken aback by this, because I would already be paying the artist for her initial work (through the magic of Kickstarter) and the publishers would pay her too, no? But maybe I'm wrong, because when I asked her about this she said:

    "As for the issue about Royalties, The story idea and character ideas are all, of course, yours. They belong singularly to you. As an illustrator, we receive royalties from any books or novels we illustrate as per usual. We receive royalties because otherwise we could miss out on a lot of payment from a project that becomes extremely successful. Imagine if Dave Gibbons had only been paid,for example, £500 to illustrate Watchmen, it became extremely successful and is still in print, he would be missing out on a LOT of compensation and payment from his work which is being used again and again."

    Is this correct? Is it me who's in the wrong, or her? Just wondering.

    Thanks.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there is no 'correct' or 'in the wrong'... there is only what the two parties agree on and set forth in their collaboration agreement, or work-for-hire contract...

    it's up to you to decide if you want to hire an artist to do the work and pay the full fee they demand up front [work-for-hire], or agree to a combination of a lower fee with a percentage of royalties to make up the difference [collaboration]...

    but no pro is going to work for payment on the back end, since there's no guarantee the book will ever be accepted by a publisher.. or, if it is, that it will ever earn enough in royalties to pay them what they feel their work is worth...

    you are not obligated to accept this artist's terms, which seem unprofessional to me... a pro would only work for royalties if there was already a publishing contract in the works and sufficient sales expected to justify contributing the artwork... that usually only occurs when the author is well known with a good sales track record...

    with a new and unknown author, it would be way too chancy for a pro to consider... this artist may be new to the business, or just trying to milk you for all she can get...
     
  3. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    @mammamaia The artist is charging me their normal amount, with royalties to be agreed upon. So I would be in my rights to talk to her and come to agreement on payment terms? I would never tempt her with only royalties, as that is unfair; I just wonder what percentage of the royalties she expects...

    The artist is also new to the business (I think she's only been doing art professionally for about a year), and I don't think she's ever had a big project like this before, so it might well be that's she's just unsure of exactly how it all works. Do you suggest I "haggle" a little bit, if I'm not completely comfortable with her charging full price for the 4-8 pages to show the publisher, and have the publisher pay her?

    Thanks for the info. :)
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    As I see this, with admittedly no knowledge whatsoever of the industry:

    - A graphic novel would surely involve a whole lot of illustration, a whole lot of hours, fair payment for which would probably be many thousands of dollars.

    - I'm betting that you don't want to pay too many thousands of dollars before you have a publisher.

    - I'm betting that she isn't interested in donating her time to your creation without it also being her creation. The joy of betting on a creative long shot is not so joyful if it doesn't belong to you.

    - Hence the royalties.
     
  5. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    @ChickenFreak - No, I won't be wanting to pay thousands of dollars/pounds, but it won't cost that much, I promise you. ;) Okay, thanks for the input. I'll have a longer talk with her and see exactly what she wants. Thanks. :)
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is the artist expecting a cut of your royalties, that you'd receive from a publisher? If so, that is within the realm of what you can discuss...but there is no way you can speak for the potential publisher.

    I've never written a work intended for a graphic novel format.

    What I would do is to pay for the artist to do what is industry standard for a project's submission. Possibly what the artist suggested, and pay the fee. If the fee/commission is commensurate for the going rate, the artist isn't out anything.

    If you submit to a publisher, the first chapters/pages, with a synopsis and the rest of the novel's story/text, and they're interested, they may be interested in the artist in question finishing the graphic novel. In that case, they would negotiate with the artist for the royalty rate, and not have it tied to your (the author's) royalty. The publisher may have their own artists that they prefer to work with and feel would be right for the story.

    You might (should) do some research, both online and even contact some writers who've gone through the submission and publishing process, to get a better idea of how the process generally works.
     
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  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, but, why won't it? I would think that the work would be worth thousands. I realize that you may not be willing to pay that much, and that's why I'm saying that it makes sense for the artist to want to be in on the overall enterprise.
     
  8. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Thanks so much! I never thought that there would be two royalties, one for each of us. Your thoughts help muchly! :)
     
  9. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    The publisher would pay the artist, not me. I'll pay them for the initial pages to entice the publisher, and then if the publisher is interested in working with us, they would pay us accordingly.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    both you and the illustrator need to learn how this business works...

    a publisher is not going to pay the illustrator, unless they hire her to do the art work... and there's virtually no chance of that happening, since she hasn't established a reputation as a graphic novel illustrator, is not known to the publishers you will be querying...

    they will consider accepting your ms including illustrations by this artist, if presented as your ms alone [you having paid in full for the artwork on a 'for hire' basis], or if she is one half of a partnership in the ownership of the ms... in which case the two of you will split the royalties earned... you will not both be paid separately...

    so, you and the artist must sign an agreed upon payment contract or collaboration agreement before querying agents/ publishers... in which you set forth the terms of how she will be paid... which can include any of the following:

    you pay her in full for the illustrations up front, thus becoming their owner, with her having no further rights to them other than to have her name on the cover as the illustrator... [which has the added benefit to her of being a boost to her fledgling career]...

    you pay her a partial fee up front, the balance to be paid after publication, if/when royalties permit and she retains full ownership of her work...

    you pay her a partial fee up front and a percentage of all monies you receive from sales of the book and she retains ownership of her art work...

    you pay her nothing, but agree to pay her a percentage of all monies you receive from sales of the book and she retains ownership of her art work...

    you pay her in full for the sample illustrations and do or do not sign a contract agreeing to have her complete all reqired artwork under one of the terms above...

    see above re what publisher will/will not pay...
     
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  11. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Thank you. :)
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have no knowledge or experience of this, but at first glance, what the artist suggests would only make sense if she was the artist hired to illustrate the ENTIRE graphic novel - which you cannot guarantee because should the publisher be interested, the publisher will hire their own illustrators. This renders the whole talk of the artist getting royalties completely pointless - none of her work would be used. It's just a sample to show the publisher, after which, should the publisher want it, the publisher would have their own artist to do the work from start to finish.

    I think the artist might have assumed you want her to illustrate the entire MS? If that is the case, then yes, her talk of splitting royalties with you might make sense.

    My advice would be - why don't you find a graphic novelist and graphic novel artists forum and ask over there? I really don't think many of us here have the right expertise to help you. Most of us here deal with regular novels. Graphic novels probably work by its own set of rules as it's a different animal altogether. From those forums, you'll better be able to determine what's normal practice and what's the average price for an artist's work.
     

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