Hard Lesson 12: Why Would Anybody Want to Work With You?

July 15, 2016

I wanted to keep this episode short and sweet, but I get so heated about the idea of collaborations that it ended up getting away from me.

Today I’m asking a simple question. Why would anybody want to work with you?

If you like this podcast, please subscribe to it by clicking here.

I’m constantly bombarded with questions about collaborating with people, and how to find artists to work with creators for equity/for free/for deferred payment. They tell me they have asked dozens of artists and nobody wants to work with them.

Of course, they won’t. You haven’t made it appeal. You’ve given them no reason to work with you. There is nothing compelling about your business plan or sales strategy. So why would somebody want to work with you?

Now I know what you are thinking. I’m awesome. Who wouldn’t want to work with me? But when you are trying to get somebody to work on your project for free or for equity, it’s going to take more than just being awesome in order to convince them.

Now, this is a very heated and contested debate. Most creators complain that writing and art should be equally valued. However, that’s not how it works in the real world. In the real world, one of these takes a longer time and more readily contributes to the sale of a book right off the top.

That thing is the art. Art can sell a shitty book. Great writing can’t sell crappy art. As the old saying goes, people come for the art and stay for the writing. The writing is what people will come back to again and again, but initially people usually buy a book for the art.

And that makes sense because you buy books from the art as well, especially from first-time writers. However, for an established artist like BKV, I will buy his book even if the art stinks. The thing is the art on his books never stinks.

It’s very unusual for a great, seasoned writer to be paired with crappy art because they know that great art sells books and reflects on themselves as writers. If their book has bad art, nothing in the world will be able to sell it.

There is also the problem of time allotment. On a good day, an artist can finish one page of art. On a good day, a writer can write an issue of a comic book. Yes, there is plotting time, and planning time in that, but even on the most generous day, it takes much more time to do a page of art than it takes to write a page of comic books. In my example, an artist takes 20x longer to do the same work.

So their time is not more valuable, but they have the ability to take on far fewer projects during the same time.

But regardless of these factors, the only one that matters is that you are coming to them with a project, which means you already see the value in their work. In this scenario, you have to convince them that you are worth investing in.

Because that’s what a collaboration is, an investment. In a comic is 20 pages and an artist charges $100/pg, then they are investing $2,000 in your project to get 50% equity. In this scenario, it is beholden on you to make sure the artist can at least make their money back. And in order to make their money back (and hopefully profit) you need a plan. You need a plan which will make it worth their while to turn down other clients to work on your book.

And it has to be more than just, my project is cool. Because at the end of the day, my project is also cool and I’m going to pay. So you have to have a plan. You have to make it more interesting for them to work on your book than take on clients. You have to make it more interesting for them to work on your book than work on their own.

Because those are their two other options. Those are the options you are competing against. You have to make a very compelling argument for them to make that deal worthwhile.

How do you do that? Lots of ways. Maybe you have ins with retailers. Maybe you have an editor at a company that is interested in the book. Maybe you plan on attending a bunch of shows and getting exposure that way. Maybe you already have a track record of success.

But regardless you have to make it appealing to them because it’s your project. You are basically trying to sell 50% equity in your company, and you have to make that company worthy of investment.

You don’t have to agree with you. You might have a more innocent version of this whole thing, but that’s the sticky wicket of it for more people. If you can find another way, they go for it. However, if you are struggling this is why. If you go up to an artist with a real proposal and some hard numbers on how you plan on making their investment worthwhile, if you are serious and forthright, and if you have a great project, you can land somebody…but it has to be worth their while.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe to it by clicking here.

And if you are looking to supercharge your business, schedule a free thirty-minute call with me by clicking here.

Leave a Reply

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

One comment on “Hard Lesson 12: Why Would Anybody Want to Work With You?

  1. “Awesome blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.”