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Thread: Comics Cultures, Part 3

  1. LeeNordling Guest

    Comics Cultures, Part 3

    Before we start, I want to say thanks to Ronald Montgomery for starting up a Comics Pro Prep group on Facebook. I’m not sure where it’s going yet, but it’s getting there. You can check it out at:
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gi...5453082&v=info

    WEEK 3:

    The first week, we examined a range of ownership deals that publishers tend to offer, and the reasons behind those tendencies.

    Last week we spent some time sorting out a number of broad-based questions creators can use to determine their unique personal payment requirements, devoid of tribal preconceptions.

    And it would be nice if that’s all there was to it, walking up to a publisher and saying, “Hi, I’d like to be paid in large bills, non-sequential, and please put them in this brown paper bag.”

    Unfortunately, this only has a chance of working if you’re also holding a gun.

    A more likely process involves you waiting for an offer and then figuring out how that offer corresponds to what you’ve determined you want, need, will settle for, and will not accept.

    Often, the offer is somewhere between what you want and will not accept.

    Sometimes you won’t figure out what you will settle for till you get a handle on what the publisher is offering, and other times you’ll know full well what you will not accept.

    Our goal this week is to prepare you for what you may be offered, payment-wise and rights-wise.

    That’s right, this week we combine what we’ve been discussing the previous two weeks, and apply them to the wide range of possible deals from different types of publishers.

    Once again, we are focusing on all types of sequential art publishers, not just direct market comics publishers, so I ask those of you with preconceived beliefs on this topic to check them at the door, unless those beliefs already account for all the publishing variables.

    Also once again, I ask that you please stick only to the topic being discussed.

    We’re going to take this one tricky step at a time.

    And we’re going to start by putting ourselves in the publisher’s position.

    “What?!” you exclaim. “You want me to argue against my own position?”

    “Not necessarily,” I respond, “though that might end up being the case.”

    “What’s the point of that?” you ask, more than slightly puzzled.

    “Two reasons,” I reply. “First, forewarned is forearmed. Second, you’ll learn where publishers can be flexible and where they must be intractable.”

    “That sounds good,” you say, getting it. “Then I have a better chance of making a deal we can both live with.”

    “That’s right,” I say, happy we got this far in so short a space.

    Our first question, remembering that your answer can only reflect the publisher’s perspective, not the creator’s: how do publishers determine what to pay creators for their work?

    As obvious as this might seem, it’s not, so let’s try to get this covered in the first couple days, because our answers are certain to take us down the rabbit hole.

    ***

    Lee Nordling is the owner and founding partner of The Pack (the-pack.biz), a comics-related content provider for the publishing industry. He is also author of “Your Career In the Comics,” an overview of the newspaper comics syndication profession and industry.

    If you wish to contact Lee separately from Comics Pro Prep, please write to him at lee@projectfanboy.



  2. Rain Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    Our first question, remembering that your answer can only reflect the publisher’s perspective, not the creator’s: how do publishers determine what to pay creators for their work?
    [/I]
    Off the top of my head...

    1) How much money is in the publisher's budget for a new project?
    2) Street Cred: Does the creative team bring recognizable names that have a proven track record of success?
    3) How successful does the publisher anticipate the project will be (due to the content OR creators associated with it) in the market?
    4) Ancillary Rights: Can this project be tweaked or revamped for profit in a medium besides publishing?
    5) When do we want this project completed? If time is of the essence, how much must we pay the creative staff for them to drop everything else, and work on this project full-time?

    Rain



  3. RonaldMontgomery Guest

    1. Projected revenue from project: what's the assessment?
    2. Budget for project.
    3. Is this new talent or experienced talent?
    4. Does the talent bring a complete package or is management needed?



  4. LeeNordling Guest

    Initially, I wrote:

    Where does a budget come from, guys?

    Does a publisher just say, "Oh, I really like this project; let's throw $50,000 at it."

    To quote Deep Throat: "follow the money."

    From that perspective, please start over and try again.

    --Lee

    ***

    Upon reflection, Ronald was right.

    He wrote: "Projected revenue from project: what's the assessment?"

    In short, his #1 was: "How much money will this project make?" That's correct.

    His #2 was: Budget for project. That's also correct. Let's presume production, printing, and promotion costs are predictable, what's left is what they have for "talent."

    His 3. This is where Ronald is right...sort of...but not really.

    His 4. Not really relevant, not at this point, because being interested in making a deal presumes this has been figured out.

    Let's go back to 3, the real goody.

    Why would "new" or "experienced" talent matter when it comes to determining how much to pay a creator?

    HINT: #3 comes somewhere inside #1.

    Added question: Do publishers pay you more or less because of how they like working with you? Before you answer, remember that the key words here are "more or less."

    --Lee
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 05:48 PM.



  5. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by Rain View Post
    Off the top of my head...

    1) How much money is in the publisher's budget for a new project?
    2) Street Cred: Does the creative team bring recognizable names that have a proven track record of success?
    3) How successful does the publisher anticipate the project will be (due to the content OR creators associated with it) in the market?
    4) Ancillary Rights: Can this project be tweaked or revamped for profit in a medium besides publishing?
    5) When do we want this project completed? If time is of the essence, how much must we pay the creative staff for them to drop everything else, and work on this project full-time?

    Rain
    Rain, you have some good miscellaneous thoughts, but let's work from Ronald's beginning, which stays more to the point about why a publisher would give a creator X-amount of money.

    Publishers don't pay for street cred, though they do pay for something that's underlying street cred, and my questions to Ronald's list are working to get to the heart of that.

    Thanks.

    --Lee



  6. RonaldMontgomery Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    Why would "new" or "experienced" talent matter when it comes to determining how much to pay a creator?

    HINT: #3 comes somewhere inside #1.

    Added question: Do publishers pay you more or less because of how they like working with you? Before you answer, remember that the key words here are "more or less."

    --Lee
    Yes, it matters. Some experienced talent will have a built-in market. Untried talent doesn't. If you have talent with a more defined market presence, your financial models will better predict revenue, if nothing else.

    I would also venture a guess that, heck yeah, you will have a tendency to be paid more if people like you. Or, at least, you will be paid a minimum if people don't like you (this assumes you aren't so popular that you can write your own rules).



  7. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by RonaldMontgomery View Post
    Yes, it matters. Some experienced talent will have a built-in market. Untried talent doesn't. If you have talent with a more defined market presence, your financial models will better predict revenue, if nothing else.

    I would also venture a guess that, heck yeah, you will have a tendency to be paid more if people like you. Or, at least, you will be paid a minimum if people don't like you (this assumes you aren't so popular that you can write your own rules).
    I contest both these points.

    I have experience, but not proven market value in the Direct Market.

    Some editors like me, but all that means is that they might be WILLING to publish something I produce (because they like working with me), but that doesn't mean their budget has a check box for giving me "like-ability" money.

    That a publisher wants to offer me payment presumes they like the project, presumes they believe it will be executed to the required degree, and presumes it will be delivered on time. If any of these weren't so, a publisher would not offer me a contract with payment. For this reason, THESE variables are not on the table for THIS first question.

    Both your aspects dodge THE core creator consideration that ties directly to payment.

    Any guesses what that is?

    BIG HINT: "If you have talent with a more defined market presence, your financial models will better predict revenue, if nothing else." The term "more defined market presence" starts to get close to the point, but I want somebody to hit this nail on the head...and talent has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with it. There is only ONE consideration here...and it drives best-seller publishing.

    --Lee
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 08:01 PM.



  8. RonaldMontgomery Guest

    Sellability/past performance.



  9. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by RonaldMontgomery View Post
    Sellability/past performance.
    That's exactly right!

    In Hollywood terms, it's called "bankability."

    It is, simply, how much a creator's attachment to a book, on THAT alone, will help generate sales.

    So, I've been in the business for 30+ years, and just set up my first sequential art picture book with a publisher.

    Do we pay me on my experience or on my sales record, which, in this area is nil (beyond writing a bunch of Disney children's picture books that were mass market and not book trade)?

    Hey, because I worked with the editor before, and we like working together, does anybody believe he's going to fudge the profit & loss statement he's got to produce for a publisher to know what the book is estimated to make?

    Now, an editor I've worked with can be assured I'll deliver on my promise, but again, that's not a determining factor for what I get paid, is it?

    Remember, we're in the publisher's seat for this question, so let's start over again and return to this morning's initial question: how do publishers determine what to pay creators for their work?

    --Lee

    HINT: There is an answer that sums it all up, AND keeps an eye on the money-ball.
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 10:41 PM.



  10. danialworks Guest

    Are we getting name value, or creating name value-- and can this project make our piece of the sandbox pie bigger?



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