Advice on whether to accept a project

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Advice on whether to accept a project

Postby ArtsAngel on Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:15 am

I've been chatting with a writer, who is trying to convince me to work with him on a 3 x 32 page issue story. I submitted a sample illustration and character designs, and as a result the pitch has been fully accepted & signed by the publisher.

Problem is, having worked exclusively on webcomics (mostly written by myself) since forever, I don't know if what I'm being offered is any good. So I'm hoping some people with a lot more experience will be able to tell me if I'm being taken for an idiot or not.

- Publisher is in the US. All $$ are in USD.
- Pitch is signed by pulisher, so I assume this means it's guaranteed to be printed.
- $500 advance up front for each issue (3 issues total)
- extra $500 on completion of issue 3
- 40% share of profit on single issue sales (it's being distributed by Diamond, so the net profit is actually pretty low)
- 33% share of profit on 96 page compiled graphic novel sales, digital ebook sales
- maintain rights to artwork, free to sell originals and keep 100% profit
- full colour, 8" x 8" format

I need to give them my final decision in two days, so any thoughts at all will be very much appreciated :)
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Re: Advice on whether to accept a project

Postby Anomic on Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:59 pm

Given the quality of your work (just exceptional) – I strongly suggest getting a Lawyer who deals with Intellectual property and contracts – It’ll cost you aprox $350- $400 AUD but it will be worth it.
The issue is that while you might maintain copyright over published material there are other questions that need addressing.

Questions:

While you get paid for the GN work, who gets royalties over t-shirts, buttons (Alan Moore was screwed on this one), etc. (see Licensing rights at http://www.copyright.org.au/information)

if it gets turned into film (or any medium) whose property is it

Can they continue on without you? If the series is successful can they substitute you for a Korean artist at half your price?

While you have copyright do you have moral rights asserted e.g. can they use your images on any piece of amoral crap they like (haemorrhoid cream, toys that choke kids, etc)

If there is an allegation of plagiarism, obscenity or any litigation regarding this work are you protected?

Does the profit sharing arrangement put you into a partnership (hence liable if there is any court action)?

The Australian society of authors has a contract service (Below) but given your time frame speak to a lawyer. There are a number of IP lawyers in all astates just look up your states law institute for registered specialist (Vic one is here)

http://www.liv.asn.au/Getting-Legal-Advice

http://www.asauthors.org/scripts/cgiip. ... geId=10006

Also check this site out http://www.copyright.org.au/information (remember Australian law can be different to US)
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Re: Advice on whether to accept a project

Postby ArtsAngel on Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:20 pm

That's extremely helpful, and some things there that I didn't even think to consider. Sounds like I might have a busy couple of days!
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Re: Advice on whether to accept a project

Postby tonia on Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:00 pm

Just a couple of thoughts - if I understand it correctly you are getting $2000 for a 96 pg graphic novel - thats only about $20 a page - thats really low, even by independent/vanity publisher standards - if you really love the story and project and aren't daunted by doing the amount of work for that little potential monetary return, then sure (but I agree with Anomic about checking out the contract and ask for changes if you don't feel it's worded correctly or clearly).

Also I'd google the publisher and see what kind of track record they have for getting work out there - if they are one of the majors players it's probably a safe bet, but I've had illustration work that's never seen the light of day because a small publisher went under/ didn't complete the project. Or work that didn't get published and I can't do anything with it, because it's not really solely my work. (that's just illo work not comic work, so didn't take me as much time as I'd imagine a comic page would take you).
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Re: Advice on whether to accept a project

Postby Anomic on Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:20 pm

Nice site that may also help to check a few things off

http://www.right-writing.com/checklist.html

Why a "Licence" and not an "Assignment" (taken from site above)

There are several advantages to always licencing your work rather than assigning it.
At law, when you assign your work to a publisher in return for their promise to pay at some future date and they don’t pay, you have a debt and you must then sue on that debt to collect. However, debt is a provincial/state law matter and, if you live outside the province or state where the publisher does business, you are likely to have a very hard time collecting even if you win in court.
By licencing, you retain the ownership of the right and you can make it a condition of your contract that if the contract is breached, the right automatically reverts to you. They don’t pay, they lose their licence. It’s that simple.
However, if you have assigned you copyright and they don’t pay, all you have is your right to sue which is more trouble than it is worth most of the time.

also in terms of payment per page check out the recomended rates per page here

http://www.asauthors.org/lib/ASA_Papers ... s_2010.pdf
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Re: Advice on whether to accept a project

Postby Anomic on Tue Sep 07, 2010 1:51 pm

Sorry I can’t leave this one alone.

Below is nice article that sums up the notion, obligations and downfalls under the “partnership act”
http://www.rbhm.com.au/web/article_4341.htm

back in the day when Dave and I were making comics together we were absolutely dumbfounded to find out from an IP lawyer that we were conducting a “partnership” and that if there was any litigation we were both exposed to having to pay any damages (unlikely, but not outside the realms of possibility) we were advised that essentially we could lose our houses if things went pear shaped.

We were also exposed if we had a falling out, in that we had no arrangement or documentation as to who owned what (characters, images, stock, etc.)

You can purchase a Joint Authorship & Agreement Contract that sets out the terms and conditions which the ASA recommends for writers and/or illustrators who are thinking of working together here for $11
http://www.asauthors.org/scripts/cgiip. ... geId=10222
also look into basic partnership agreements.

As a result Dave ended up paying to become a limited liability company – this reduced his personal liability and protected me as I was no longer in a partnership instead becoming a contracted writer.

Negotiating Collaboration Agreements
http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/collab.html
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Re: Advice on whether to accept a project

Postby ArtsAngel on Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:19 pm

Thanks again guys, I can tell this forum is going to be really helpful :|>

I've managed to far to get clarity on the ancillary rights (20% on anything & everything) and legal issues (not liable).

Still waiting on the actual contract though.

I understand that $2000 essentially does come out to $20 a page, but if (IF... I hate that word) it sells enough copies, it does come out to be fair a bit more. They're planning to release part of issue one for free comic book day so hopefully that'll help sales too.
Graphic novel sales will also help the overall page rate too. It's kind of annoying that I can't figure out just what it all comes to in the end.
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Re: Advice on whether to accept a project

Postby JasonFranks on Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:50 am

I think it's important to look at these things for what they are:

The $2000 is an advance, not a page rate. That means that you don't get any royalties at all until the first $2K has been covered. I think it's a pretty good advance, although it's been staggered it across your workload.

40% royalty is pretty generous. Royalty rates, to the best of my knowledge, are usually about 10%, divided amongst the creative team in various ways. That said, it might be worth your while finding out what the writer is getting--artists usually get a bigger slice. (Note: your slice of royalties from sales of the book is only that, it's not the same as your percentage of ownership of the material, or any your cut from any subsequent movie details, etc).

That's my understanding, anyway--I'm a writer, not a lawyer.

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