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: Competitive rates for professional work? (Launching a new publishing imprint)
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Jul 28th 2012
I've just been given the opportunity to turn my hobby (self-publishing "
First Law Of Mad Science
") into a full-time job. A friend of mine works for a non-profit book publisher that's looking to start a comic book imprint, and they've approached me to launch it as the managing editor. I'm obviously extremely excited.
Right now we're in the very early stages, and they'd like me to write up a business/grant proposal that breaks down the budget and timeframe of the launch and subsequent operations.
I could use some help with the budget numbers. I know what we're paying our artists for "First Law," but I don't know how competitive those rates are; we saw a very wide range of rates when we initially found our team on Digital Webbing. Also, "First Law" is a hobby project without particularly strict deadlines. (As much as I'd like it to be otherwise. We've all got day jobs or other projects; right now we're producing 2-3 issues a year, and at our best could probably release quarterly.) The new imprint's titles would be on a semi-monthly release schedule (i.e. every other month). I've also got no idea what comic writers get paid, as my co-writer and I don't pay ourselves on "First Law."
What would be competitive rates for a professional team (writer, penciller, inker, colorist, letterer, cover) on a high-quality semi-monthly title, of standard (22pg/issue) length? The non-profit group that's funding this is taking it quite seriously in terms of the resources they're willing to put behind it; if we can, we'd like to attract some established talent. (Though of course I expect we'll also be drawing heavily from the pool of up-and-coming and small-press talent that's out there looking for work.)
Any of the pros out there want to help me out? Any advice I could get would be greatly appreciated.
Jul 31st 2012
If I recall,
Panel and Pixel
is the better forum for contacting professionals and discussing rates.
Aug 1st 2012
Panel and Pixel has been defunct for some time.
The bulk of the people migrated to http://sequentialworkshop.com/forum/.
The real issue is what sort of level you want to compete at -- Marvel/DC rates would
around $75 writer, $125 penciller, $100 inker, $100 colorist, $25 letterer, and a really wide rage for cover work (usually 150% page rates if traditional pencils/inks/colours or starting around $1000 for a fully painted cover). More established pros bring down higher numbers, even though both Marvel and DC have been cutting rates recently and hiring at their lower rates from lower cost of living countries.
If you want to compete at the IDW/BOOM! level you can
cut most of the rates by half -- finished full art will go for 100-125 (inkers are really getting squeezed out at this level), good colourists may drop to $60-75 a page, but there's not much give on the lettering rate since it already starts so low -- you
be able to find pro quality for $15. If you find quality at lower rates it will be significantly harder to retain the talent over the long haul of producing that much work regularly. For example, I took a large assignment at about 1/3 of my usual bottom rates (because I really liked the story), but after a few scheduling hiccups, having to replace my studio computer, and finding the work is taking longer than expected to produce, I'm in a situation where I'm losing money as I'm turning back work paying my usual rates. Were this an ongoing I'd have to walk away.
A budget only allowing for smaller rates should be reason to reconsider the project.
I'd also suggest eyeing a cover & 20-page pamphlet with a self-cover if you go semi-monthly -- the savings in time and money in a market learning to see 20-page episodes as the standard is worth considering. A starting budget for freelance content should start at $5000 an issue
Hope this helps!
Aug 1st 2012
Thanks so much! I really appreciate the advice. I was unaware of the Sequential Workshop forum, so I'll definitely be picking some brains over there. Hopefully I'll be back here soon to announce the launch in an official capacity.
Aug 3rd 2012
Ah, thanks for the update. I never frequented panelandpixel, but I tend to just direct folks to forums that have a long history of these sorts of questions. I'll drive them over there now.
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