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Author Topic: The Hunt For Creators  (Read 1016 times)

dossa1uk

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The Hunt For Creators
« on: 27 March, 2019, 03:56:44 pm »
Have de-lurked to ask for some advice, as I know there are a fair few in the know that habituate this 'ere forum. 

My brother is a successful prose writer of crime/action thrillers, in a similar vein to Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, with a substantial, established readership.  One of his characters has been optioned for TV, with a significant name signed on to direct/showrun, for instance.  I suggested to him that a comic adaptation might be, at the very least, fun, and, at best, a successful first step in getting more adaptations done, and after that, who knows?

I've spoken to one or two other creators who have been very helpful with advice, and the upshot of this advice is that it makes sense to take advantage of relationships that publishers may already have up and running, before striking out on our own somehow.  So a suggestion was to reach out to creators, and put together a "pitch document", with synopsis, proposals, and maybe even some artwork examples and so on, and then, if we find no takers, look at options like Kickstarter.

My question is how best to find creators for this - is it simply a case of approaching people, perhaps via Twitter etc, and ask their availability?  Or is there a forum (over and above this one?) where you can advertise for work?  Does anyone have experience of this?  I'm keen to know whether creators are willing to attach themselves to a project before it has been picked up by a publisher, maybe even knowing that it won't actually get to print. 

We are very keen to "do right" by creators, making sure that we pay their going rate, and in short order, for any work done, even if we can't get it to print via a publisher. 

All advice, pointers, guidance and supportive words very welcome!

we66y

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Re: The Hunt For Creators
« Reply #1 on: 13 April, 2019, 05:47:53 pm »
It’s sounds like a very interesting concept and I’m sure you’ll have lots of creators interested, to my knowledge there is no formal forum for hiring. My suggestion would be to ask for samples in order to find creators who fit your needs. And almost do an X-factor type contest: for artists look at all their samples then pick your top 5 and ask them to draw maybe a page of story. And the artist you like the most wins the contract.  And you can do similar for writers, colourists, letterers etc.
If the character/book series is a popular as you say, you probably only need a script, a cover and a few pages drawn up to get the attention of a publisher.
Good luck I hope it works out.

Professor Bear

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Re: The Hunt For Creators
« Reply #2 on: 13 April, 2019, 07:06:25 pm »
If you're paying the going rate and you know any editors on Twitter, ask them to give you a shout-out.  Apart from the usual hopefuls, there's a good chance professional creators might respond, as I've been surprised at the number of seasoned pros who've thrown their hat in the ring for sample shout-outs.

dossa1uk

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Re: The Hunt For Creators
« Reply #3 on: 14 April, 2019, 10:51:56 am »
Thanks for the feedback. Very helpful!

I think I’m most concerned with “doing it right” - not wanting to waste anyone’s time. I follow a few artists on Twitter who also act as great “curators” for other artists, but finding a writer is a good deal harder, I think?  Maybe it’s more a reflection of who I choose to follow, or the more immediate way of sharing work by the artists, as a visual medium? 

I’m hopeful that if/when we get a writer attached, then an artist, we can use this as a good introduction to the piece, but it does feel like pushing water uphill at the moment. Probably due to my naivety...!

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Re: The Hunt For Creators
« Reply #4 on: 24 April, 2019, 10:02:19 am »
I might be barking up the wrong tree here, but if the property has been optioned for TV - would it not be a good idea to see what the production company that have done the licencing think about the idea of comics? They may well have a contact they could use directly.

Apart from that, good luck getting going - exciting times.

dossa1uk

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Re: The Hunt For Creators
« Reply #5 on: 24 April, 2019, 12:35:02 pm »
That’s a very good idea I hadn’t considered. Thank you.

I think, whatever happens, some kind of proof of concept/pitch document is a best bet, if only to crystallise the tone of the (hopefully) finished product. I’m currently sculling the shallow waters of Twitter to see if I can find some suitable creators to approach. My next idea is to hit the con circuit and see what’s going on there, and strike up conversations with creators face-to-face. Think I just need to dive in, really.

pauljholden

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Re: The Hunt For Creators
« Reply #6 on: 25 April, 2019, 12:37:54 am »
Find creators you like - ideally people doing the sort of work that is in line with what you have in mind (that's always easiest) and ask them.

Don't do a contest - if you're approaching professionals they will almost certainly want to have nothing to do with it (unless it's paid)

Most pros I know have on occasion been approached for exactly this kind of thing, my experience is it often goes nowhere (through no-ones fault) so for me, my first question is always: have you got a publisher?

Comics is a harder nut to tackle than people think.
 
There's a few ways to attack the problem:

Find a writer willing to get onboard as a co-writer. I suspect this will be tough as most writers don't need or want co-writers (as a writer friend of mine used to say of co-writing "you end up doing twice the work for half the money") they may well have publisher contacts already.

Find an artist capable of working with you with whatever style of comic scripting you can do - most pro writers worth their salt will be able to nurse maid you through the comic scripting process (working either marvel style or be able to take a couple of paragraphs of the book, sit down and create a few pages of comics from it). Five/six pages like that is enough for a pitch to a publisher... but therein lies another hurdle...

Find a publisher - comic publishers will be difficult, they have set schedules, set working relationships and, unless the property has huge buzz already won't neccessarily be interested (because the type of publisher who might be interested might actually want a cut of the ownership too).

Find a book publisher willing to do a graphic novel - I think this might be the best option. Here my advice is look at the publishers doing this already, and use your brother's agent (assuming he has one) to contact those publishers. (I've seen Anthony Horowitz books adapted and they looked pretty nice).

Could be once you've secured a publisher the equations all change and it becomes markedly easier to get a writer and artist on board.

Without getting into page rates, here's a some ball park figures I'd recommend:

Pencils and inks £100-£300 per page.
Scripting £30-£60
Lettering £5-£20 per page
Colouring £50-£100 per page
(these sort of represent upper and lower bounds I've experienced, but everyone will have their rate, and if you offer too little they'll usually tell you so)

Use those upper lower figures to sort out a budget, closer you can get to the top end the more likely it is you'll be able to pull a pitch together (but you'll know how much money you have and what looks reasonable)

It all goes nowhere without a publisher though, so if you can secure one of those first it'll make the whole thing work.

La Placa Rifa

dossa1uk

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Re: The Hunt For Creators
« Reply #7 on: 25 April, 2019, 08:33:45 am »
Paul - thanks for the incredible advice and feedback. Definitely some things to take away -

As you point out, the publisher aspect is going to be key - we’ve tried approaching a couple of the big names, with feedback being that they are concentrating on what they have at present, but these are comic publishers as opposed to book publishers which is an idea I hadn’t even considered, if I’m honest!  I’m hoping that the pitch document idea might be the best way of explaining exactly what we are proposing to potential publishers, and the level of expertise involved, so as best to persuade someone to take a punt on it. Do you think that’s a good idea?

Secondly,  my fault, this. Neither myself or my brother are looking to co-write or interfere with the adaptation (within reason - turning the protagonist into a nine foot gerbil might be a step too far. On the other hand...?) as he, and certainly I, are keen to “get out of their lane”.

So, really, it’s just getting out there and gauging interest from creators, and then going to publishers with them attached?  I’m consoled that this is a common enough situation, as another thing I’m keen to do is just not waste anyone’s time.

In your opinion, is there any merit to Kickstarter if we can’t find a publisher?

Thanks again.

pauljholden

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Re: The Hunt For Creators
« Reply #8 on: 25 April, 2019, 09:02:34 am »
Honestly, I wouldn’t go near Kickstarter unless someone on the team has had enormous success with it already.

It’s very hard to make the numbers work, you can certainly earn enough to print/distribute a book - but usually very hard to break even to pay for a book ... let’s take the lower bounds of the previous figures: per page it’s £165 per page, say it’s 110 pages (not an unreasonable amount for a book) so you need to earn £18,150 to pay the creative team.

Then cost per book printing (call it a modest £5 per copy, then distribution, a modest £5) and you’re looking at £15 per book to print and distribute, say you need to print 1000 copies to make the print cost reduce to that price, that’s another £10,000 - so Kickstarter needs to earn a minimum £28k to make sense (with those numbers)

That’s a pretty high bar high bar and those numbers are probably much lower than they should be.

The most successful comics related Kickstarters almost all have a large internet following already, and have tiers that mean it can hit its numbers very quickly without selling high numbers - the Etherington bros made roughly £240,000 through 4600 backers, with a roughly 55 per backer average.

Comic publishers want to own what they’re printing because they know the money isn’t in comics, it’s in tv/film.

Image is the exception, but the image team are small and every pro comic creator is sending them pitches, so that’s the comics equivalent of breaching the wall in game of thrones, you can do it, but you’ll need [SPOILERS]

My best advice, is approach an artist whose done work like this before (head to Waterstones and look in their books section for graphic novels that come from books-Kev Walker’s name springs to mind) pay them a decent amount to do a concept piece (a book cover or similar) and use that to try and convince a book publisher to go this way.

As I understand it the book store option is one of the few places graphic novels do exceptionally well in, so it’s worth pursuing, but because the rewards for this project are limited for the people involve (again: most everyone is looking for a project that they can own, either the writers/artists or the publisher) you need to really reduce the risks involved in it.

La Placa Rifa

dossa1uk

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Re: The Hunt For Creators
« Reply #9 on: 25 April, 2019, 10:35:05 am »
Ok - understood, thanks.  My brother does have an audience, of good size, but by their very nature they are not necessarily comics readers, so whilst we might be able to get a foot up of sorts, I understand that it's not a slam dunk that we could kickstart to the sorts of numbers you point out below.  However, that name recognition, and the TV show tie-in, might well be enough to persuade a publisher to come onboard, once we present them with the concept piece(s).  I thought something like a 1-3 page little "teaser" script might be a nice way forward as well. 

At the absolute very worst case, my brother gets his characters drawn to hang on his wall, and who knows what else might follow - maybe even some concept work on the TV show if it continues to progress?  It's clear that TV and movies are strip-mining creator talent for concept work at the moment, or that's certainly my perception.

Ok - feel energised again!  Thanks all for helping.