The webcomics blog about webcomics

Midweek Miscellany

No theme today, just not finding enough things that resemble each other.

  • Via the twitter machine of A Girl and Her Fed creator K Brooke “Otter” Spangler comes news of a really well-written discussion of publishing contracts by Hugo winner Kameron Hurly, via the blog of Chuck Wendig. That’s a roundabout way of getting to the item at hand, but it’s through a series of really smart people, so that’s all right.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about contracts since the news of Ron Perazza’s job shift yesterday, since he was fairly synonymous with Zuda and I spent a lot of time picking apart their contracts back in the day, and I’ve always had a particular interpretation of contracts¹.

    Or as Hurley puts it, the people offering that contract are not your friends and boilerplate is inherently a screwjob:

    I hear this a lot in publishing “Oh, but they are such nice people!” The people at my current publisher, Angry Robot, are super nice people. I love them to pieces. But I’ve seen their boilerplate contracts. Many of the editors at Tor – also nice people! But… I’ve seen their boilerplate, too. Name a publisher and I can name you nice people there who nevertheless will hand over boilerplate contracts to new writers because that’s simply corporate policy (“Boilerplate” refers to a standard, unnegotiated contract that the publishing house’s lawyers have approved and hope authors will blindly sign, thinking it can’t be negotiated or that it must be totally on the up and up because shouldn’t a major publishing house be trustworthy? No more than any other corporation, my friends). Publishers and online platforms like Amazon and Kobo are not here because they necessarily love authors and the written word (some do) but because there is money to be made. They offer their services because they are businesses.

    There have been a long string of really nice people running publishing houses who still stole their authors’ royalties, went bankrupt, or worse. Someone being “really nice” says nothing about what kind of deal they’ll offer you. At the end of the day, you can be sure that even if you’re thinking that writing is a happy, pleasant friendly circle jerk among friends, your publishers are thinking they’re engaged in a money-making business, and they’re treating it as such. Even if you’re signing with some mom-and-pop shop publisher that’s your best friend and her husband stapling pamphlets themselves, if you sign over all your rights to them, your rights become something they own, so if they go bankrupt or want to sell off rights to license your work to someone else, you’ll have zero say in the matter.

    All that protects you in this business is the language in your contract. And that’s language that you sit down and study before anything goes wrong, when everything looks great, when you’re heady with the idea of publishing your first book, or your first book with a major press, or your first series, or whatever. It can be difficult to imagine, in that heady, carefree moment, all the things that could go wrong. But having been through many things that went wrong in my career, let me say this: there’s a lot that could go wrong, and you need to keep your head out of the clouds when you’re sitting down with a contract. [emphasis original]

    It’s a good, important read for anybody that’s self-publishing, non-self-publishing, or in any way engaged in the business end of creation.

  • Raina Telgemeier continues her domination of the new-to-comics set; if she weren’t such a darn nice person, I’d start worrying that her real goal wasn’t just to make excellent YA comics, but to develop an entire generation of fans who will eventually grow up, and regard her as their living Goddess-Queen. Should it turn out that the teeming crowds that gather around her at every appearance and book tour stop in fact are laying the groundwork for an eventual worldwide coup d’etat, let me remind them all that I’ve been a Telgemeier fan and booster since before some of them were born and welcome their future regime. All hail.
  • Oh jeeze, oh jeeze, David Malki ! has gone and launched a Kickstarter. So far this one hasn’t seen the enormous takeoff of the fabled Machine of Death game, with the day one funds equalling only about 10% of the funds raised in the equivalent time of the earlier campaign. Which means that at this time, it’s “only” on trend to succeed, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to have enough backers (yet) for the Fleen {Funding | Fudge} {Formula | Factor} to be utilized yet.

    Malki ! always brings something new to projects and this time it appears to be in the Add-Ons:

    Feel free to choose any tier, then add the amount below to your pledge total to add any of these items à la carte to your pledge. Feel free to add as many instances as you like – we will ask you later which designs or titles specifically to send you.

    The weird penny amounts are so we can easily track which add-ons you’ve ordered! Please add the exact amount listed, otherwise it will confuse us and make everything take longer.

    • ADD ON 1 OF ANY PUZZLE = ADD $25.03
    • ADD ON 1 OF ANY POSTER = ADD $15.05
    • ADD ON 1 OF ANY BOOK = ADD $10.07

    Those odd numbers of cents will add up to totals that uniquely describe which add-ons somebody opted for; I’m going to bet that makes Malki !’s life significantly easier come fulfillment time, and makes me wonder why nobody has used parity-code pricing before. Clever!

  • Speaking of crowdfundings, there will be one soon enough for my favorite new webcomic of 2014, Stand Still, Stay Silent:

    There we go, now chapter 3 is officially over and the dreaded chapter break begins! Two weeks this time, because I’m going to be preparing the oh-so-imminent print drive for SSSS book 1 so that I can launch it around the same time as chapter 4. So nothing next week while I try to get everything up, and then the adventure continues either on Tuesday or Wednesday the following week. I haven’t quite decided yet, just got to see how efficiently I manage to get everything done. :3

    In case you haven’t been following Minna Sundberg’s postapocalyptic dram-com, she’s put together 178 updates of full (sometimes multiple) pages, in color, between 3 and 4 a week on average, since 1 November of last year. Holy crap, that’s a lot of comics, and the story hasn’t even introduced all of its main cast yet, but it doesn’t feel slow or dragged-out in the least.

    My guess is it’ll end up being as long as your BONEs or Vattus², and it will be worth every damn page. It’s smart, it’s gorgeous, it’s engrossing, and it’s going to stand as one of the great longform stories in comics. Get caught up now so you are ready to order up Book 1 in a couple weeks when the fundraiser goes up.

Spam of the day:

The lack of transparency and credibility in banks’ balance sheets fuels a vicious cycle. When investors can’t trust the books, lenders can’t raise capital and may have to fall back on their home countries’ governments for help.

I believe that you are concerned with banking transparency about as much as I believe that “Greg” who called me this morning really was “from Computer Support Windows Microsoft”.

¹ The specific quote doesn’t actually appear on that page; it was alt text for an image, which was lost in a past server migration. It’s been quoted a couple of places in the Fleen archives, though, and I stand by the sentiment, so I’ve reintroduced it in the alt text of today’s image.

² Which, by the bye, is back from interchapter hiatus on Monday, hooray! And his OZ illustrated edition is on the verge of completion, double hooray!

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