Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Publishing Contracts
anystar at 11:51PM, Jan. 12, 2007
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All right..I had originally been planning to self publish my comic, “The Door in the Rock”, that's up here on DD, but just to see if anything would happen, I submitted proposals for DiTR to a few different small publishing companies, and one of them is actually interested. They approved my project, and so far they have been pretty cool. I outlined my ideas for the publication for them, and they seemed agreeable.

I was given a copy of their standard contract, but told that we wouldn't have to finalize anything until I finished enough pages where we could start putting the book together. After reading through the contract, I was a little confused as to whether or not it was a good contract. (btw, I'm purposefully trying not to name names and be rather general)

My question is, for anyone knows such things and/or has been in the business, “what constitutes a decent contract for a beginner?”

Should I receive a page rate or advance? How man copies of my work should I get? Should I retain partial or full ownership of my work? should little details be in the contract - like whether or not I can continue to publish the comic online? I would still like to continue publishing the comic online, and when I stated that in my outline they didn't object. But still, should that be written down formally? I'm not sure if a publishing newbie like me would be laughed away for trying to negotiate, and since it is a relatively small company, if it's even feasible to ask for something more than what they offer.

Any advise I could get would be great.
http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Door_in_the_Rock/ >> Fantasy Graphic Novel in Black and White :3
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:54AM
subcultured at 11:58PM, Jan. 12, 2007
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congrats!
J
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
anystar at 12:00AM, Jan. 13, 2007
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subcultured
congrats!

Thank you! :D
http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Door_in_the_Rock/ >> Fantasy Graphic Novel in Black and White :3
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:54AM
FoxmanZEO at 1:24AM, Jan. 13, 2007
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The only thing I'd know about contracts is that you should always have full ownership and controll over your work. Even if they throw a tantrum and threaten to hurl you out on the street, your work is to remain your work entirely.


The only exeption being if you were doing it as a commision, in which case it would be either partialy or fully owned and controlled by the publisher or the person(s) that commisioned the work. Meaning that they had controll over the work from the start, and probably would have contacted you first, it's more like working for them.
'Who must do the hard things?

He who can.'


-Confucius.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:30PM
marine at 12:02AM, Jan. 14, 2007
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I was advised not to talk about my comic book contract, but I guess I'll break the rule again.

I approched a company (a pretty big one) with a portfolio of work a few years ago. I didn't hear anything back, but they still remembered my stuff from then. I submitted a portfolio again, and they got back to me within the week about how great it was and how interested they were. Even made me a big offer and were going to put it in fairly heavy circulation, but they wanted to change a few things. Just some “notes” on my work. What happened was that one character (abortion man) couldn't appear at all. Him being pretty much a major supporting character, that would ripple throughout the work. I said “okay, well what else” Two of the major villians needed to be toned down as well (one was a child molester who ate shit and I won't even mention what the other one did) and I felt like I was being shoehorned into doing something I didn't want to do. My legal team and I then decided to ask for more money (because for the right amount of money, I'll do anything.) which was about 30% of an increase from what they originally offered. They didn't like it, and said for that amount they would have to “make the book even more mainstream” and I decided “well thats alright, I'll take it somewhere else.” and thats what I'm planning on doing. Because if you can't do what you want, don't do it. The money would've been great, but who needs it when you're an artist.

Anyway, just get a literary agent as well as a lawyer (or a couple like I did) to look it over. In the end, its all about you. Yeah, I would've probably became a famous indy book hipster guy, but they would've killed my comic books. I'd rather be nobody on the internet, then some asshole in Wizard.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:52PM
lothar at 8:40AM, Jan. 14, 2007
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is this “small publishing company” a “sell your paper book online” company by any chance ?
or are they actually going to put it in stores ? thats the part of the contract i would be checking out, and also , outside of the contract , i would look into the company themselves, or find some other people that went through them ,. whenever i wounder about something like a potential employer or a free software; i always google “*name of company* sucks”
that way you can see if other people think they suck !
good luk
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:45PM
anystar at 9:59AM, Jan. 14, 2007
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lothar
is this “small publishing company” a “sell your paper book online” company by any chance ?
or are they actually going to put it in stores ? thats the part of the contract i would be checking out, and also , outside of the contract , i would look into the company themselves, or find some other people that went through them ,. whenever i wounder about something like a potential employer or a free software; i always google “*name of company* sucks”
that way you can see if other people think they suck !
good luk
It's not a self publishing company XD; If it was a self publishing place, I wouldn't have to sign a contract, I'm pretty sure. I would just have to pay for printed copies of my book. It's an independent publisher, and they would be offering my stuff through stores. But googling the company sounds like a pretty good idea.

FoxmanZEO
The only thing I'd know about contracts is that you should always have full ownership and controll over your work. Even if they throw a tantrum and threaten to hurl you out on the street, your work is to remain your work entirely.

Ahh, that sounds about right.
http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Door_in_the_Rock/ >> Fantasy Graphic Novel in Black and White :3
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:54AM
FoxmanZEO at 2:57PM, Jan. 14, 2007
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If it's not right… make it right. >:3
'Who must do the hard things?

He who can.'


-Confucius.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:30PM
Broken Minds at 5:20PM, Jan. 14, 2007
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Does any one know of some good small indy spots to get started with?

I'm not so much concerned about making bank right now as I am just getting my stuff done and circulated. I just want people to read my stuff :-p
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:35AM
anystar at 7:40PM, Jan. 14, 2007
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Broken Minds
Does any one know of some good small indy spots to get started with?

I'm not so much concerned about making bank right now as I am just getting my stuff done and circulated. I just want people to read my stuff :-p

Here's a whole list of indy publishers that was quite easy to find :D Independent Publisher List on Comicbookresources.com

Though I would suggest self-publishing as well. There are some great inexpensive sites like Comixpress.com and Lulu.com that you'll have total control over your comic with. You won't have to worry about editors or anybody hounding you :3
http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Door_in_the_Rock/ >> Fantasy Graphic Novel in Black and White :3
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:54AM
Mark at 3:18AM, Jan. 15, 2007
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I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said, but congrats anyway
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:54PM
Broken Minds at 2:01PM, Jan. 15, 2007
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Wow….much bigger than I was expecting. Thanks alot Anystar ^.^

I'll be sure to keep an eye on your book. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:35AM
anystar at 3:20PM, Jan. 15, 2007
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Broken Minds
Wow….much bigger than I was expecting. Thanks alot Anystar ^.^

I'll be sure to keep an eye on your book. :)

It won't be out for quite some time. XD Ahahaha. I have to finish enough pages to actually put a book out first. and I'm quite slow at the moment. Though, a the thought of not having to pay for your own publishing does get the wheels turning. :3
http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Door_in_the_Rock/ >> Fantasy Graphic Novel in Black and White :3
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:54AM
Mystic Hand at 4:38PM, Jan. 15, 2007
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First of all, don't be shy about negotiating, clarifying, or specifying details in a standard contract. Standard contracts are inherently generic, and it's not at all unusual for people to tailor them to specific projects. A legitimate publisher won't think you're being difficult.

Your other questions mostly depend on the size of the company you're dealing with.

For original work, small to mid-sized publishers (like Slave Labor Graphics, Antarctic press, and Image Comics) usually offer royalties instead of page rates, but you retain full rights and ownership of whatever you produce. At most you're only selling them first-time printing rights. That's pretty much standard practice these days.

On the other hand, Tokyopop, a big company, will offer a good page rate and a decent advance, but it also takes at least half your copyright, nearly all the film and merchandizing rights, and pretty much all creative control. That might be a good deal for some and a bad deal for others depending on the creator and the creation.

Keep in mind there's little to no money in comics for small publishers, who rarely sell more than a couple thousand copies of any title, so there's a reason they don't pay much.

last edited on July 14, 2011 2:09PM
Aeon at 6:45AM, Jan. 17, 2007
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To kind of reiterate what Mystic Hand was saying, you need to look specifically at the language they're using regarding future rights. Some publishers will ask for the rights to publish the first edition, then full ownership reverts back to you, and later editions would have to be renegotiated, or you could take it elsewhere to be republished. So definitely check out the context of what exactly they're are buying the rights to, how long they retain the rights, what parts of the comic remain your intellectual property…

There's also the money issues… which, frankly, I don't understand, so I'm no help there.

See if you can't find an affordable publishing lawyer, or even stop by your local university and look for a friendly law student or professor to help you analyze the language so you know exactly what you're getting into.

Congrats!
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:46AM
anystar at 3:14PM, Jan. 17, 2007
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Mystic Hand, Aeon: Thanks for your great advice. I'll definitely keep this stuff in mind. I do understand that independent/small publishing isn't exactly the most profitable thing out there, so I find it flattering just to be offered the chance to publish. XD

Luckily, one of my uncles has been a professional (and quite popular) oil painter for some time, so I'm having some people from his studio (who are all family members for the most part, haha) look over the contract for me and translate the legaleese into nice plain English.

I did speak with the publisher about tailoring a the standard contract, and they didn't think I was being difficult, and agreed that changes could be made. So yay! we won't be signing any paperwork until I have enough pages to start worrying about printing, but I didn't want to be busting ass when the company couldn't offer what I needed in the contract anyways.
http://www.drunkduck.com/The_Door_in_the_Rock/ >> Fantasy Graphic Novel in Black and White :3
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:54AM
reconjsh at 9:13AM, Feb. 22, 2007
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Alot of good advice already posted, so I'll spare you mine.

However, you should know that:

* Lawyers will generally scrub any legal contract for about $50 and tell you if it's a good contract and they'll also break it down into what it's REALLY saying. A good service and well worth the $50 bucks I think… so go out and find any lawyer in town and see what their “contract scrubing” rate is.

Hope that helped,
~Jerome~
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
Kristen Gudsnuk at 6:39PM, Feb. 25, 2007
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That is sooo coool!!!!!! CONGRATS!!!! btw, which company wants to sign you? =3 wow you're so lucky! how old are you, too? I'm just curious… ^_^!! your comic is really good though, they're making a good decision publishing you!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:22PM

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