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Publication rights?

Hi all. This isn't really a 'beware' message but maybe an 'aware' one? I didn't know where else to ask.

I've been approached by an RPG company (they look kosher) asking how much I would charge for the publication rights to one of my pictures. They stress they don't want full copyright.
*name deleted* is potentially interested in acquiring publication rights to use the attached image and possibly commisioning several similar pieces. Could you please send me your requested rates for this (publication rights only, not full copyright).
(it was this image http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/9317804/)

I have precisely no idea what the going rate for this would be. If any of you have any advice or can point me in the right direction for some then it'd be much appreciated!
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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 26th, 2006 11:21 am (UTC)
I'd ask for some money upfront (no idea how much) and then a small % on each book/s they sell.
Mar. 27th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC)
I was thinking along those lines, it was a question of how much. I'm not sure if the company's quite big enough for royalties though ;)
Mar. 26th, 2006 01:11 pm (UTC)
Ask Ursula Vernon or Terrie Smith.
Mar. 27th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC)
Ursula was kind enough to reply here. Thanks for the pointer though :)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 27th, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC)
I asked a friend of mine who did a fine art degree here in London about this on Saturday and he really surprised me when he said they hardly got told anything with regard to the 'business side' of art. That seemed kind of strange.
A contract's a wise idea - thanks for bringing that up. For now I'm waiting for them to come back to me on exactly what they want to use my pic for.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 26th, 2006 04:56 pm (UTC)
*grin* Actually, let me correct one thing--greeting cards actually have a helluva lot more money in 'em, and normally a much larger distribution, than small-press RPG sourcebooks! So if anything, charge a lot more for the greeting cards.

I'm lucky to get a hundred bucks off licensing from a small press RPG. For a start-up stationary company that once approached me, I said "$500," and they didn't even bat an eyelash. (Should've asked for more...)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 26th, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC)
Hey, couldn't hurt!

I don't think it's that greeting cards neccessarily pay all that well so much as that RPGs pay absolute rock bottom, mind you, but by comparison...
Mar. 27th, 2006 12:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you :) As advised I've gone ahead and asked what they wish to use it for. I'm glad I posted here because I was really stuck! For me drawing's purely something I do for fun (or the odd private commission if it's something I'll enjoy drawing) so I've never looked into how the 'professional' side of it works!
Mar. 26th, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)
Ah, the joys of licensing...

Depends on the size of the RPG company, and what they want it for.

Generally, the first person who names a price in this sort of negotiation loses. Resign yourself that it's probably going to be you, but put it off for a bit.

Secondly, it depends on how much use they're going to get out of it. Publishing rights to Wizards of the Coast are gonna net you a heckuva lot more money than if Teeny Weeny RPG Company A wants to use it on their probably-not-going-to-break-even small press run of a hundred books. You're almost certainly looking at a flat fee, not royalties, and furthermore, if they offer you a choice between the two, TAKE THE FLAT FEE. The vast majority of small RPGs do not break even, and $100 in the hand is worth 0.5% of sales in the bush. I've never had royalties pay off for me on anything but my own books.

So, I suggest the following paragraph, which is what I always use.

"Well, I'm happy to license the use of my artwork, but the price depends on what sort of use you're looking for--obviously exclusive publishing rights for an image in perpetuity run a bit more than one-time publication rights, and covers run a bit more than interior illustrations. What are you hoping to use the image for? Generally I'm pretty flexible on licensing, so I'm sure we can work something out."

They will then, hopefully, come back and tell you where they'd like to use the image.

Almost certainly, if this is a small, unknown RPG, they're going to ask for non-exclusive publication rights, and you're not gonna get a huge sum of money out of the deal. When licensing comes up with small press RPG stuff for me, I shoot for a hundred bucks if they want it on a cover. It's not a lot of money, but for not doing any work on my end, it's nothing to sneeze at, and granted the art budget on the wee little RPGs, that's pretty fair. (A lot of 'em pay under $300 to commission a cover cold, for example. The small RPGs are not rollin' in cash.)

If they want exclusive rights, that's another kettle of fish. They probably won't. So let's say they want to use the image as a cover on their sourcebook. You then say "Great! Well, how 'bout we say non-exclusive rights to publish as the cover, and if the book is wildly successful and goes into reprints, we have an option to renegotiate the cover? If that'd work for you, generally I'd charge something like $100 for licensing on a cover, but I'm pretty flexible, so make me an offer."

Sometimes they'll make a counteroffer, sometimes they'll take it as it stands. Since it's a small press, you're not likely to lose potential money--if they do make it huge, which is the longest of long shots, they already know one artist.

Anyway, hope that helps!
Mar. 26th, 2006 04:58 pm (UTC)
I should probably note that this is the standard-unknown-RPG payscale, and if they're a company big enough that you've actually heard of them, you may want to inch the prices up a bit. In most cases, a big RPG company is going to be hiring artists, not licensing existing art from strangers, but there are undoubtedly exceptions.
Mar. 28th, 2006 11:03 am (UTC)
Thank you, this is a big help! You're a star :) The company has a few publications (both for hard and electronic copies) but it's still not one I'd heard of before. I emailed the guy with the help of the handy paragraph you suggested (cheers!) and now he's come back saying they want it as an interior illustration and asking about both in perpetuity and one-time use costs. I've cobbled together a reply to that.

I'm guessing it's the norm for a contract of sorts to be exchanged - is that usually the artist's responsibility to draw up or the clients? (I'm currently indulging in much head-scratching attempting to see how the commissions contract template available on theaoi.com could be adapted).
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


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