What are Royalties?
Royalties are not what they used to be in the 90s. Comic books sell far less than they did and yet, the break even point is the same.
A writer, self-publisher or small indy publisher can pay a hired artist with an advance against royalties to get a chance to recoup their out of pocket money.
If the comic sells enough and there are royalties, then the advance is subtracted from that.
If the book doesn't sell, then artist keeps the fee as payment for services rendered.
Concerning a back-end deal; in reality the back-end rarely happens. A small press, self-published or independently published comic book is not likely to make a profit, so there will be no royalties. Better to do a graphic novel that you can keep in print for a chance at profit.
Another reality check, if you're collaborating with an artist who has no investment (co-creator) in the comic, then as soon as a paying job comes along the artist will disappear and the writer is going to be left high and dry.
Check the various forums of writers saying the artist left them hanging. Take an informal poll and I'm sure you'll find the artist wasn't being paid more often then not. In other cases, it's a novice who got in over their head and just can't produce and reality set in on them. And then again, there really are flaky artists out there.
to be continued…
read next - Comic Book Cog in the Wheel
previous - What are the Page Rates to do Comic Books?
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