Good Advice #2: Getting What You Want

Our next question for the Good Advice series comes from the Beat Your Head Against A Wall Department.

“I work now and then for a company that refuses, absolutely refuses, to entertain the idea of royalties.  I’ve told them over and over again that royalties are industry standard for the kind of work I’m doing; I’ve even shown them my contracts with other companies to prove it!  They are hell bent against royalties, so what can I do?”

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to make the impossible possible.  So unless you’re really committed to keeping that knot on your forehead, stop.

by patrick h. lauke via

by patrick h. lauke via

Why do you want royalties?  The extra money is nice, but royalties are mostly attractive because they mean that if the book or movie or commercial does extremely well, you won’t be left in the dust.

It is more important to get what you want than for what you want to be called a certain thing.

If the company is dead set against providing royalties, propose another option that will allow you to fulfill your interests in extra cash and the ability to succeed along with the work.

For instance, figure out how much you’d get in royalties for the first run of the work.  Let’s say it’s a book run of 5,000 and the standard industry rate would give you royalties of $0.10 per copy*.  That’s $500.

So instead of demanding royalties, either propose a rate that is increased to capture the additional $500 or  request a built-in bonus of $500.

That takes care of the money interest but what about your interest in tying your success to the success of the book?

Propose a bonus structure tied to additional printings of the book with bonuses increasing as the printings increase.  At the second printing your bonus might be $600, the third $800 and the forth $1000.  You might even add in that the parties can renegotiate the bonus structure after the fourth printing.

They may balk and tell you they can’t afford to agree to those terms because what if other artists found out and everyone wanted the same terms? Defuse the worry by offering to keep the terms of the bonuses, including the fact that they exist, confidential upfront.

Commit yourself to getting what you want out of a deal rather than getting particular things, like royalties.  When an offer is rejected, look at what you want and figure out if there is another way of structuring the deal to fulfill your interests.  There probably is.

Featured image by hellojenuine. via

*I’m using nice round numbers for demonstrative purposes; the best way to figure out standard royalty rates for your line of work is to ask other artists in your field.

Categories: Good Advice, Good Advice Posts

Leave a comment

Tags: , , , , ,

« Being Disagree-able

You’re Wrong »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

RSS Feed

From the Blog

Copyright and Conflict in Collaborative Projects

One of the great things about making art is the opportunity to collaborate with other creators. You get to borrow each other’s brains, see stories through one another’s eyes, and create things together that neither of you could have created on your own. There’s just one little thing: it can be


Subscribe to the Work Made For Hire Blog

Twitter Updates

Email Subscription

Want Katie's tips via email?

Sign up here: