Why The New DC Comics Royalty Deal Is A Bum One For Many Creators


Some of the figures from DC's new royalty payment plan have started trickling down…

I'm sure there's more to come, but under the new DC payments plan, I'm told from repeated sources that freelance writers will get around 5.4% of net revenue, instead of roughly 2% of the cover price.

And while the print and digital numbers are now being combined, I'm told that the unit sales threshold for monthlies, before any royalty payments are made, is moving from 35,000 print-only to 60,000 combined.

It is likely, given the state of many DC Comics monthlies right now, that a number of creators will now no longer see any royalties whatsoever from monthly books, when they did before.

Take a mid level book like, say, Aquaman #30. ICV2 estimated North American sales of 33,000, you can probably add another 5,000 for UK sales and maybe another 5,000 for digital sales. Now, in the past, selling 38,000 copies would have seen royalties pay out. Now? They don't.

In fact, for DC monthly books, you'll have to get into their top ten or you won't make any royalties at all. So while it's nice that colourists are now getting royalties, they join at a time when you have to be working on Batman, Batman Eternal, Harley Quinn or Justice League to get any extra cash for your efforts. Although those who are will do very nicely. And it all may depend on those unreported digital sales.

What's more, the sales threshold, which has to be met before any payments are made for original graphic novels  is going from 1 copy to 15,000 copies, and the threshold for trade paperback or hardcover collections has moved from 1 copy to 3,000 copies.

Which means an instant drop in royalties for many creators – OGNs often take a while to sell and collections have a long tail as well. It will now take even longer before they start paying out.


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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