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Thread: Comics Cultures, Part 3

  1. danialworks Guest

    Are we paying from in-house, or is this project big enough to get more money from a partner or a bank loan?



  2. chrisstevens Guest

    i'll join in and probably show just how little i know the business-end of things...you'd be paid on past performance. if, like in this case you say, you don't have a track record in this particular arena i imagine you'd be paid whatever they have budgeted for such projects.

    good stuff, lee.



  3. LeeNordling Guest

    Thanks, Chris.

    You mention budget, but right now we're in the process of dealing with a question that actually ESTABLISHES budget...based on a number of variables, one of them being the creator.

    Danial, thanks for offering those questions. The each touch on interesting considerations, but they're not necessarily the first and BIGGEST consideration a publisher would have in determining how much to pay a creator (which becomes part of a budget).

    Anybody else have an operating philosophy to suggest a publisher might have for determining how much to pay creators?

    Imagine you're running the company, have a ton of "product"--and you call it this, even though creators hate the term, but "units" are units, and this is ALL ABOUT THE ACCOUNTING SHEET and what the OWNER or STOCKHOLDERS expect from YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU.

    And there's this project somebody thinks will sell some number of (here it comes again) units, and you've got to figure out how much to pay a creator to make this book to sell those units.

    Remember, follow the money.

    I promised this would send us down the rabbit hole, and already I can feel the disconnect from reality.

    So, it's your money in this situation, and you're not just throwing money away to make whatever you want to.

    YOUR MONEY YOUR MONEY YOUR MONEY YOUR MONEY.

    How do publishers determine what to pay creators for their work?

    --Lee



  4. harryd Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    How do publishers determine what to pay creators for their work?
    --Lee
    They need to estimate how little they can pay creators in order to get the work done and turn a maximum profit, or at least put themselves at a minimum of risk. That's why there's a lot of publishers that only offer percentages of sales or royalties. If they expect a book will sell enough to be at least slightly profitable, even with whatever cut the creators get, then the risk of them losing money is relatively slight (as long as they know what they're doing when it comes to estimating sales).

    If we're talking a larger corporation, like your Marvel or D.C., they probably have a fairly good idea of how an issue will sell before it even hits previews. They can go ahead and pay everyone a page rate, because they have a certain expectation of how much return they will see. And, since their sales tend to be quite high, that may well be cheaper than giving the creators a percentage of the profits. Which is back to, how little you can pay in order to get a certain quality of work done, and turn the best profit.



  5. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by harryd View Post
    They need to estimate how little they can pay creators in order to get the work done and turn a maximum profit, or at least put themselves at a minimum of risk. That's why there's a lot of publishers that only offer percentages of sales or royalties. If they expect a book will sell enough to be at least slightly profitable, even with whatever cut the creators get, then the risk of them losing money is relatively slight (as long as they know what they're doing when it comes to estimating sales).

    If we're talking a larger corporation, like your Marvel or D.C., they probably have a fairly good idea of how an issue will sell before it even hits previews. They can go ahead and pay everyone a page rate, because they have a certain expectation of how much return they will see. And, since their sales tend to be quite high, that may well be cheaper than giving the creators a percentage of the profits. Which is back to, how little you can pay in order to get a certain quality of work done, and turn the best profit.
    Harry gets the gold star for today, because that's exactly correct.

    They ask themselves variations on this: "How much do I have to pay creators, on top of all the other expenses, to make the profit I hope to?"

    Now, what are the creator variables, the ones that DIRECTLY RELATE TO HOW MUCH PROFIT THEIR WORK CAN ADD TO A PROJECT? (I like all-caps for making sure the qualifications aren't lost.)

    --Lee



  6. RonaldMontgomery Guest

    1. Name recognition/existing fanbase.

    2. Quality of work on the current project.



  7. WilliamStormeSmith Guest

    1. Originality of the concept.



  8. LeeNordling Guest

    Okay, we've regressed a little here, which is to be expected.

    Let's tackle each of these suggestions:

    1. Originality of the concept.

    So I have a story for the direct market about a baby with magic poop that, when sprayed out, turns everybody into chocolate people...who are mmm-mmm good to eat. And Willy Wacko's Chocolate Factory wants this totler for its very own, so it can cut down on the cost of production. After all, baby food is cheaper than cocoa beans.

    Now, that's original, and, if well done, might even sell a copy or two. But the originality of it won't help get the creator more money, will it?

    1. Name recognition/existing fan base.

    These aren't quite the same...and "fan base" implies something that might or might not translate into sales. This idea needs more targeted work, but it's not too far from being something that's entirely relevant.

    Re. name recognition, let's face it, some well known creators don't get work at DC or Marvel because their work is considered passe or out of style. So much for name recognition.

    2. Quality of work on the current project.

    Now, this is important...but why? It certainly has to do with whether the project will be produced as well as it's needed to be, so that's good.

    There are two roads for "quality" to take, as it affects payment. What are they?

    HINT: one has to do with the creator, and the other has to do with the project.

    Welcome to Wonderland!

    --Lee



  9. RonaldMontgomery Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post

    2. Quality of work on the current project.

    Now, this is important...but why? It certainly has to do with whether the project will be produced as well as it's needed to be, so that's good.

    There are two roads for "quality" to take, as it affects payment. What are they?

    HINT: one has to do with the creator, and the other has to do with the project.

    Welcome to Wonderland!

    --Lee
    If it's an original work, the project needs to be the strongest crafted piece it can be.

    If it's a work produced, say, as part of a franchise, it needs to first adhere to the aesthetics or standards of the franchise. The Hardy Boys can't fight a zombie invasion; Archie can't date someone besides Betty or Veronica.



  10. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by RonaldMontgomery View Post
    If it's an original work, the project needs to be the strongest crafted piece it can be.

    If it's a work produced, say, as part of a franchise, it needs to first adhere to the aesthetics or standards of the franchise. The Hardy Boys can't fight a zombie invasion; Archie can't date someone besides Betty or Veronica.
    Does anybody agree with this, or have any alternatives to suggest...alternatives that might actually viably connect to payment?

    For example, in Ronald's first example, how much a creator gets paid will be determined by the project's adherence to a required standard of excellence. Isn't this the standard that determines whether a creator is going to get the job, not necessarily how much the creator gets paid?

    Let's imagine the scenario.... An editor tells a writer, "And I'll pay you more to do the job well." Anybody believe that this happens?

    This is REMARKABLY tricky stuff, which is why we're dissecting it. It's too tough to develop operating philosophies without a solid grounding in core principles.

    Follow the money, folks.

    --Lee



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