DC Comics has announced to its talent a new payment plan for royalties, effective July 1, via an email from co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. The plan, which applies to new work going forward, introduces several changes to the existing model, notably reflecting the expanded role of digital sales in the comic book industry.
Under the new plan, royalties -- referred to as "participation" by DC -- will now be based on a book's net revenue through various distribution channels, including digital, rather than on its cover price. According to the letter sent to talent, "This change gives us more flexibility to sell our material in new distribution channels that have different pricing models."
Digital sales and physical sales, which were previously tabulated separately, will now be factored in tandem when determining if a book has reached the threshold eligible for participation payment. An unspecified threshold for collected editions was also added.
Responding to strong industry opinion, colorists will now be eligible to receive royalties and will also receive cover credits on issues they've worked on. Digital-first creative teams are also eligible for participation for the first time, having formerly been paid at a flat rate.
The actual means of payment are seeing some changes, too, with payments sent via direct deposit to creators in the United States, and payment reporting and work-for-hire agreements now both conducted electronically.
While the email sent to talent outlined a number of changes to the participation payment policy, it's not an exhaustive list, and creators were encourage to reach out directly to DC's Talent Relations team for any further questions.
DC Comics recently circulated a Talent Survey to its freelance creators, gauging their opinion on various issues. Veteran DC artist Yanick Paquette shared part of his response on Facebook, stating that DC's lack of royalties granted to colorists made it "excessively difficult to secure the best colorists for DC projects." The company has received scrutiny for its creator relations in recent years, with criticism for a high rate of turnover in many of its New 52 titles, and overt editorial influence. In 2015, DC's publishing operations will move from New York City to Burbank, California; joining the company's digital and administrative divisions.
The full email from DiDio and Lee to DC talent follows.
We have news to share regarding a project we have been working on for some time. We will be rolling out a new, modernized participations payment plan effective July 1, 2014.
DCE’s current participation plan dates back over 30 years and was created for a simpler and very different marketplace. The current plan no longer reflects today’s business landscape where comics are sold in a variety of formats and through a myriad of sales channels. Ultimately we made the decision that the best path forward was to create an entirely new plan that covers
new workgoing forward. Great care and consideration went into building this new participations structure and we feel that it provides both us and all of you with a fair, competitive, and versatile plan for the future.
There are a few significant differences between this new plan and what DCE has offered in the past. Perhaps the biggest difference is that all participations will now be calculated based upon DCE’s net revenue from a book’s sale rather than on the cover price. This change gives us more flexibility to sell our material in new distribution channels that have different pricing models.
In addition, physical and digital sales will no longer be treated separately. Digital sales will now be added to print sales and the sum will count towards achieving the sales threshold which triggers participation payments.
We’ve also standardized sales thresholds for all periodicals. There are no longer separate thresholds and percentages by channel (direct market vs. digital vs. newsstand). We’ve also added a threshold for collected editions. The new thresholds and percentages are designed to generously reward high sales performance.
We are pleased to announce the very welcome addition of Color Artists to the participations pool. Color Artists will receive moving forward cover credit for their work alongside Writers, Pencilers and Inkers. In addition, Digital First talent will now be eligible to receive additional compensation and share financially in the success of their books.
In addition, DCE is modernizing our systems for both reporting participations and making payments. Beginning July 1st, all reporting under the new structure will be sent electronically. Also, those of you who live in the United States will now be able to receive your payments via direct deposit. Information on how to sign up for direct deposit payments will be sent to you shortly from the Talent Relations department. International talent will continue to receive payment via wire. We’re very happy to offer these upgrades, which will result in getting paid faster.
And last, beginning on July 1st, DCE will begin transitioning to the use of electronic service agreements. The work-for-hire service agreements that historically have been transacted on paper will now be handled electronically and sent to and from your editor via email. We are confident this will make the process quicker and more efficient for everyone.
We recognize this is a lot of information to take in, and we anticipate you may have questions. The DCE Talent Relations team is well-informed in the new participations plan and looks forward to discussing with you any inquiry you may have. Feel free to reach out to the team at TalentRelations@dcentertainment.com.
DCE is committed to being the publisher of choice for top talent in the industry and to further strengthening our relationship with our talent ensuring that together we continue to create the comics we can all be proud of. Thank you and we look forward to working with you throughout the year.
Dan & Jim
DC Entertainment Co-Publishers