Back in February -- sweet, simple, naïve February -- I made a survey where indie creators could share their page and project rates, how many projects they're working on at once, how long they've been working, and more.
I did this because I tried to find this information when I was planning and budgeting Andraste, and though there were a couple of good sources, most were out of date by a few years. Plus, I was curious! If you want to know more about what my project cost, I wrote about that earlier this year.
If you're writing an independent series and looking for collaborators, you won't be paid up front. I am of the opinion that you should definitely pay the other people on your project, though I know people sometimes work out other kinds of collaboration-for-ownership agreements that everyone's happy with. That's the key, really: that everyone's happy with the arrangement.
Anyway, if you're curious about some (small subset of) going rates for comic book work, I got 30 responses to the survey, and I promised I'd share them, so here they are!
* Thirty is not a large number for a survey; take all of these averages with a grain of salt. Questions weren't mandatory, so some have fewer than 30 responses.
* Respondents came from all over the world, but about half were from the U.S. Spain, Argentina, Costa Rica, Chile, Ireland, and the UK were also represented.
* This survey was made and answered before the pandemic and quarantine and changes to the industry. I don't know how or if people have adjusted their rates since then.
* If you want to learn more about the legal side of things before you contract other people for your book (or sign anything to work on someone else's), I recommend reading The Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators, and reaching out to Gamal Hennessy for your legal needs. He's got a Kickstarter running for a book about the business of indie comics, which I'm very much looking forward to!
Comic book page rates
I asked people to choose whichever roles they usually took on in making comics when answering the survey, and everyone had the opportunity to fill out answers for multiple roles. I asked if people were usually paid a page rate, a project rate, or went unpaid/were the ones commissioning work from others. If multiple people entered the same page rate, I noted it.
High: $200 (2 respondents)
Median: $75 (3 respondents)
This group reported the widest range of page rates, and all 9 penciller-inkers were paid page rates. One person who does only pencils ($95/pg), and one who does only inks ($60/pg) responded as well.
All colorists were paid a page rate.
Two cover artists responded; both reported being paid.
Median: $10 (2 respondents)
Low (paid): $7
Of the 6 letterers who responded, only one wasn't paid a page rate.
3 of 5 editors who responded reported that they're paid for their work.
Low (paid): $12
Most of the survey respondents (15 of 30) were writers. 13 marked that they were not paid a page or project rate for their work, or that they commissioned others to work for them; only two were paid.
...is a good idea! Over 50% of respondents said they adjust their page/project or rate depending on the project.
Since rates generally increase with experience, I wanted to know how long people had been working. Most people had been in the industry for at least 3 years.
Having more years of experience consistently meant higher page rates for artists, as you might expect!
Most people work on 2-3 projects at a time, with a couple of high-achievers working on 5 or more!
Double and Triple and Quadruple threats
Most comic artists nowadays do interior pages, covers, maybe even letters and colors! One respondent indeed does all of those things. People were most likely to do colors and inks, if they did more than one thing. Writers were most likely to also be letterers.
That's the result of my very unscientific survey. Hopefully it was somewhat helpful to you in setting rates or figuring out how to budget for your own project.