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About Varied / Professional Premium Member Queenie ChanFemale/Australia Recent Activity
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Here are some of the comics-prose and manga stories I have drawn and written over the years. Some of them are published with publishers, and can be bought at the links provided. Most of these stories are in 'comics-prose', a format that mixes prose with comics.

The NBN has come and gone the Internet seems to be working so far... hopefully it stays working so there won't be any problems. On the other hand, this post will be the second-last one. The next one after this will address royalties and returns - and then Section 2 (about manga publishing) will end, and I'll be getting back to drawing my next story!

Part 5: Getting Paid - Advances

When people talk about publishing contracts, the first thing that comes to mind is probably money. How much will I get paid, and how will I get paid?

Money’s obviously very important, but the general answer to that question if you’re a manga-style artist in the West is: “Not that much,” and “in chunks.” Usually, the money you get is paid in 3 parts – once on signing the contract, once when you’ve reached a milestone, and once when the project is complete. Regardless of the sum, the money is called an ‘advance’, and regardless of whether it fulfils the normal definition of an ‘advance,’ (like in the event of work-for-hire), the money will usually be called an advance.

The first thing you must know about an advance that a lot of people don’t know:

An advance is technically a loan.

That’s right. It’s not ‘free money,’ or ‘payment for your writing of your book which we are now going to license the rights and then publish.’ The money you get paid upfront… isn’t actually yours, though you get to keep all of it, even if your book doesn't sell well. However, if you screw up your end of the deal and don’t deliver your book on time (or to the publisher’s satisfaction), then the publisher has the right to demand the advance money back from you. Usually they're highly unlikely to do so, due to the time and costs involved, but sometimes they may.

The advance is money the publisher lends you, in the expectation that you’ll have something to live on while you’re working on your book. When the book is done and published, the publisher fully expects you to repay that money. In other words, if a publisher advances you $10,000 to do your book, your book is expected to earn them that $10,000 back – not through the money they make, but through the money you make.


Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of this thing called royalties. I’m sure you’ve heard that writers (and musicians, etc) get royalties from publishers, which are a small percentage of the sale of each book. Typically, royalties are 8-10% of the list price (15% for hardcovers). This means that if your book’s retail price is $10, then you’ll earn 80c to $1 for each copy of your book sold.

You are expected to earn your advance back through royalty payments, before you’ll see any actual royalty cheques from your publisher.


Say I wrote ‘Awesome Story,’ and I sign a publishing contract with QC Publishing to publish the book. The advance was $20,000 at a gross royalty rate of 10% of the list price. The book will be sold at $10. The book just got published.

Question: So, how much royalties will I be getting right off the bat?

Answer: NONE. I’m in the hole to QC Publishing for $20,000, due to the advance they paid me. An advance is a loan, remember? It’s money I technically owe QC Publishing, which I have to recoup for them.

Each copy of ‘Awesome Story’ sold at $10 gets me $1 per copy. If I sold 1000 copies of ‘Awesome Story,’ then I’ve made $1000 worth of royalty money. Take that out of the $20,000 I owe QC Publishing, and I still owe $19,000.

Anyway, I need to sell 20,000 copies of ‘Awesome Story’ before I will see a single cent in royalties. If I don’t sell those 20,000 copies, then I’m in debt to the publisher, and the publisher may not want to publish my next book.

This is why 85% of all books don’t earn back their advance. It’s because not that many books will sell consistently over 20,000 (this is too small a number, actually).

Now, if ‘Awesome Story’ sold only 18,000 copies, QC Publishing is highly unlikely to ask for that remaining $2000 back from me. It’s simply a dick move, and no publisher does it because it’s unfair. Once a publisher pays an advance, the author usually keeps all the money, regardless of the outcome. However, nobody will be impressed when they look at your royalty statement either.

But hey! The Publisher lost money too, right? They took a risk and paid me $20,000, so they lost $2000 on the gamble, right?

Not necessarily.

Retailers take a 40-60% cut of a book’s retail price, so if a book is sold for $10, then $6 go to the retailer (whoever it is). The remaining 4% will be split between the publisher, publishing costs and the author. If the author gets $1 per book, the publishing house gets $3, which has to cover printing, shipping, warehousing, cover design, formatting, copy-editing and all the overheads of running a publishing house.

Anyway, assuming I sold 18,000 copies of ‘Awesome Story,’ then it means my publisher grossed 18,000 x $3 = $54000. Did they lose money? Depends. Generally speaking, publishers calculate print runs through mathematical formulas that will give them an idea of how many copies a particular book will sell. They will usually print a number of copies close to how they think the book will sell, and they will definitely make sure they’ll recoup their costs. The number of copies they print of a particular book isn’t a wild stab in the dark. It’s calculated to ensure that the publisher at least breaks even. If they don’t do that, they’ll go out of business real soon.


Next Wednesday - royalties and returns! Last post on this!


QueenieChan's Profile Picture
Queenie Chan
Artist | Professional | Varied
Hi all! I was originally born in Hong Kong, and moved to Australia when I was 6 years old. My first published work was the three-book series "The Dreaming" in 2004 with publisher TOKYOPOP, and since then, I've worked with author Dean Koontz on graphic novel prequels to his series "Odd Thomas". The series became a NYT Best-seller, and afterwards, I worked on "Small Shen", a prequel to best-selling author Kylie Chan's "White Tiger" Chinese fantasy series.

I'm also author-artist of many books and short stories on my website. Right now, I'm working on a collection of 8 short ghost stories called "The Man with the Axe in his Back", which will be out on 1st August 2014 in both prose and comics-prose format.


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DJ-PorcelainStudios Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014
Will you be talking about comic book prose soon in your journals?
QueenieChan Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014  Professional General Artist
OMG, I should. (I've been busy lately SIGH)
I have one more post to post on publishing before I get onto that.

I've got to organise the posts properly before I put it up online, but it should be up by the end of this year! *fingers crossed*
Aww, well queenie sensei can you give me at least a tip on doing comic prose plzzzzz?
btw this is my attempt at comic prose
QueenieChan Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2014  Professional General Artist
Oh, I almost forgot something important!

1) Choose a PAGE SIZE for your comics-prose story, and stick with it.
2) Also choose a MARGIN SIZE for your comics - try your hardest to keep all your prose inside that margin. The comics can go outside the margins, but don't do that with the prose.

People already use a set page/margin size for normal comics anyway, so this shouldn't be a big deal.

3) The ideal software to use is ADOBE INDESIGN. It's got great desktop publishing functions, and it's way simple to use. I use Adobe Indesign CS2.

I currently use a page size of 5.5" x 8.5", with margins of 1.6cm. I keep all my prose within those margins. :) InDesign lets you set all this up real easy.
QueenieChan Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2014  Professional General Artist
I had a look at what you did, and I think it's great! :D
I hope you'll keep it up and continue.

I can definitely give you some tips!
1) Comics-prose is about eliminating repetition in comics (ie. drawing the same character over and over, for scenes that are kinda unimportant).
2) Because it's about eliminating repetition, it's about drawing only the MOST IMPORTANT SCENES in a story.

---You've got the right idea in your piece - the first panel shows Det Kylie telling Roman he wants the best for her, and she asking him why he would care. This is important stuff, and you continue it with an EXPLANATION of why Detective Kyle cares and how they feel about the whole situation - which is what comics-prose is for.
---Unfortunately, because this is clearly in the middle of an on-going story, I can't really tell what's going on in the second set of panels. Is that Roman? Or is that Kyle's younger sister? I don't know the characters, so I can't tell. However, I think that Kyle embracing Roman is important, so perhaps you should draw that in a panel.

3) Because comics-prose is about drawing only the most important scenes in a story, the best way to start is to take the thumbnail of an already existing comics page and work backwards. Look at 2-3 pages of your comics, and ask yourself -- what are the MOST IMPORTANT panels? The panels that the story CANNOT do without?
4) Once you've identified those panels, then you can eliminate the other not-so-important panels. For example, let's look at these two pages:


Page 15, panel 1 shows Janet waking up, with someone calling her.
Page 15, panel 2 shows Janet awake in a corridor, with a bunch of people standing around.
Page 16, panel 1 shows Janet talking to Tony, and their conversation just continues

At no point do I show a picture of Janet getting up. I don't show a picture of Janet turning to Tony. I don't show any pictures of the long conversation between Janet and Tony. I didn't draw any of the other fireman/coworkers leaving the scene either.

I didn't draw any of it, because it's NOT IMPORTANT, and it's also OBVIOUS. Of course Janet will get up and off the floor. Ofcourse the other people will leave. There's no need to show any of that happening in pictures. What you need to show is (a) Janet waking up, (b) Janet safe in a corridor with people around her, and (c) Janet talking to Tony. All other things you can just tell in words. :)

I hope that helps for starters! ;D
Feel free to ask me more questions!
AzabacheSilver Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Impressive work!  You have earned my watch!
QueenieChan Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thank you. :)
Much of what I do next will be different though! (it's all comics-prose).
Just a note to let you know, that's all! XD
MBaerStudios Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
Found your deviantART profile while looking for Legend of Zelda fanart. After reading a few pages of your manga/comic, and seeing the fantastic artwork, I became a watcher. I am looking forward to reading all that you have here on this page, and I will also be checking out your website.
QueenieChan Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Professional General Artist
Oh, thanks~
Nice to hear from the Internet in general. :D
I love Earthbound and Megaman too, so it's good to see like-minded people around!
MBaerStudios Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014
Aha! I see someone has checked out my page. I am trying to learn how to draw comic book and manga style drawings, but I mainly dabble in pixel art and video game sprite work.
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