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Advice: Royalties/Proceeds?

A friend, whom we will call K, recently wanted to hire me for a comic book. I told him if he gives me a portion of the profits, I'd sell it for 8$ per page, and if not then I'd sell it for 20$ per page. The pages are pre-layed out (though I'd probably have to do tweaking), and it'd only be inks. From what I understand I'd be fairly simple and around 28 pages. I figured since I wasn't getting the profits or anything after except my name on it if it went big, 20$ was a fair price considering most people charge 50$ per page at the low end of the pool.

He thought it was too expensive, said he could find someone cheaper, then after researching found what I told him about 50$ per page to be true. Still, since he'd be playing publisher, he wanted to try and get a cheaper price.

So my question is (considering he'd be selling the comics at around 2$ per book I believe) how much of the profits should I request? I think 10-20% of the profits is the average, but he's charging so low, I'm afraid I'll hardly get anything? Should I just stick to my higher price and not have to worry about calculating every book sold? Also, if I do decide to do the percentages, how long should it last?


UPDATE: We talked about it more...apparently he'd be taking the comic to comic con and selling it there, which would get lots of sales easily, and also selling it to a distributer. HOWEVER, with your advice and the fact that even with my limited knowledge I can tell K has no clue with what he's doing (and recent-past has made him somewhat on the bitter level as a friend, and showed his dislike/limited to no knowledge for legalities/professionalism), I am steering way clear of this project.

Thank you guys for all the help!
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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 17th, 2012 05:32 am (UTC)
While I can see that he wants to keep his overhead low, I'd stick to your price per page. That way you're guaranteed payment for your work. There's no guarantee his comic will sell at all, really. $20 per page, even for just inks sounds really low.

Where I in your position, I would walk away from the project if he's not willing to pay you up front. It's not worth the hassle, IMHO.
Jan. 17th, 2012 06:08 am (UTC)
Jan. 17th, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
Jan. 18th, 2012 02:37 am (UTC)
Jan. 17th, 2012 07:12 am (UTC)
Price per page is what I'd insist on. I know he's your friend but with the way he's trying to undercut you, I'd be worried about him misrepresenting the comic's sales to you as well, so he could keep more of the profit for himself.
Jan. 17th, 2012 08:14 am (UTC)
Even without any malice involved, if he thinks that $20 is too much, he probably doesn't have much of a clue about making and selling comics, so he might be just overwhelmed with the bookkeeping involved - or, more likely, not sell enough copies for it to be worthwhile.
Jan. 17th, 2012 07:48 am (UTC)
I would not accept royalties. This sounds like one of those "If it gets big" deals, where it won't get too terribly far, and you're better off with an upfront cost. doing business with friends is tricky, and can end up with some pretty sore feelings.

I highly highly suggest a flat fee per page, with no royalties involved. I think $20 a page is a steal, and he's lucky to get quoted that at all.
Jan. 17th, 2012 07:59 am (UTC)
Go for price per page. Indy comics rarely make much money, you'll likely get little to nothing from royalties.

If you do want to do it for a percentage, ask for at least %50. You'll be doing at LEAST half the work for the comic, probably way more than half.
Jan. 17th, 2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
I agree with this. Just doing the inking step might sound like a third (or, in the case of black-and-white comics, half of) the process, the fact that you might also have to tweak page layouts makes inking worth more than 20% of the profits.
Jan. 17th, 2012 08:38 am (UTC)
Given that, at 20% of the profit(assuming he's selling it at $2 and that he's counting the total sale amount as what your portion is coming out of rather than the actual profit, re: sale price - other costs in creation = profit amount), he'd have to sell 30 comics to make up the cost of one page, at $20 a page, I'd definitely go with price per page.

He's already getting a great deal for the work and chances are, going with the alternative, you'd never see even a portion of that otherwise.

Edited at 2012-01-17 08:40 am (UTC)
Jan. 18th, 2012 04:37 am (UTC)
Math moment... 20% of cover price ($2.00) would be 40 cents. So he would need to sell 50 copies, not 30. And if there's 28 pages, as the OP suggested, he'd need to sell 1400 copies for the OP to make their non-royalty per-page price. I agree, though - this sounds quite iffy.

And, as spiffystuff notes below, production costs include printing and distributing; 20% of profit could easily mean 20% of 20 cents per copy, or 4 cents to the inker for each copy sold.
Jan. 18th, 2012 04:45 am (UTC)
Nope, she's still charging $8 a page. So no matter what she'd be getting that $8 making the difference $12. $12 divided by 40 cents would equal out to be 30 issues(making for a total of 840 issues sold to make the same amount as just charging $20 a page). ;p

Granted, again, that's only if her share would come from the cover price, not the actual profit amount. Which,yeah... isn't too likely.
Jan. 17th, 2012 06:14 pm (UTC)
First up, be careful of the word "profit" - that implies money made AFTER expenses, which I guarantee will be zero. (I guess there's always a slim chance his comic will be wildly popular and make oodles of money, but seriously I put the odds at less than 100:1 unless you feel this guy is really amazing)

If I were you I would not do any royalty deal unless you are in love with the comic enough that you are happy to do it for $8 per page (that is honestly painful for me to type), even if you never see another dime from it.
Jan. 17th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
What I'd do is stick to your per page price of $20 and if he'd rather do royalties, figure out what would be reasonable and how you'd get that amount. For example, let's say that he'll be selling them for $2, with a $1 cost per book. If he sells 200, that's a profit of $200. If you get half, that would be $100 for you, which is good if you're only doing about 8 pages (100/(20-8) = 8.33).

However, keep in mind that you'll only get royalties like that if it ever goes to print, and them odds aren't good.

What I always say is that if these people are confident that their project will make a bunch of money, they'll jump at the chance to get the pages done at a flat rate, not with royalties. If you really want to do something with royalties, just use this formula to figure out if it's worth your while.

Number of copies sold x (cost of magazine - cost of production) x royalty percentage x chance that comic will go to print ≥ (Base Rate per Page - Rate per Page with Royalties) x Number of pages

Just fill in the numbers with estimates, and see what you get. See if you can make it greater than or equal to.
Jan. 18th, 2012 03:33 am (UTC)
Don't take a portion of the proceeds. Get your money up front.

There is no way that you will be able to examine the books to see whether K is ripping you off, without a lot of hassle. So- don't make that necessary.

He wants the work- he pays for it. Up front... just as you supply the work.
Jan. 18th, 2012 07:49 am (UTC)
With the type of comics I do, if I am inking I get paid for my time, not by pages. But Japan has different systems than other comic industries...

However, you could consider time into your pricing. What kind of comics are these? Heavily detailed or real cartoony with simple backgrounds? If it's really simple, and will only take you thirty minutes a page, for example, maybe you could give the guy a cheap deal and do ten bucks a page. If it's detailed work, then stick to your guns. Nothing less than $20 if it takes 2 hours or more to ink one page.

I never take royalties on first-time collaborations. I wouldn't go with the percentage plan either, since two dollars a book is probably not a realistic price. I did 18 page books that cost $90 to printup, and that's considered a cheap deal for forty books. And the printing was bleh, too. At two bucks a pop I would have never made my money back...
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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