It's this time of the year again. Tapas opened submissions for their Incubator program, and to the surprise of no one, people are loosing their mind.
Unfortunately, there is little information from creators actually in the program, likely, because there aren't that many (yet). Because of that, there isn't a substantial group of people who can provide their side of the story, experiences and problems to counter balance the negative reviews online.
It is my goal to give more insight on how it is to work with Tapas as a creator, to provide you with more information that will help you decide if you want to apply to the Incubator Program yourself or continue posting on the site.
Disclaimer: I'm currently under contract with Tapas, that means I'm inherently biased. While my goal is to strive for transparency and honesty in my online and personal life, you may take the information I provide with a grain of salt. As you should with all things posted online.
The Application Process
I can't discuss this topic without explaining how I ended up publishing for Tapas. While I'm under a very similar contract as the Incubators and my comic is marked as "Tapas Original", I never applied to the incubator program.
In June 2015 I became one of Tapas' first forum moderators, which I still am to this day. It's a position held by community members, so moderators aren't employed by Tapas. This position allowed me to get a little insight into the company that is Tapas and their staff; mainly Michael Son, who may the the nicest and most supportive person you will ever come across as an artist.
When I started working on a new concept for a comic, Michael showed interest and asked to see samples of the work when completed. I worked on this for months, created character sheets, wrote the full story, and completed 4 chapters with prolog and introduction. I would have done this with or without Tapas, as story telling is my hobby and greatest love. Since I'm a full-time employed manager for a consumer product company, I didn't require financial support from outside sources during this time.
The comic was picked up by Tapas and I was offered the choice between two types of contracts. The first, a very simple profit sharing option, where Tapas hosts the comic in the premium content list and you share the resulting profits 50/50.
The second contract includes IP sharing and other perks/responsibilities. Since most online grievances have something to do with this, let me go into as much detail as I feel comfortable with.
The compensation is different for every artist, as every artist has different needs and wishes. The original contract only calls out the 50/50 profit sharing, everything else is added during the negotiations.
Some potential additional financial support options I have heard of:
- Upfront payment, so that full-time artists may be able to focus on the project while still being able to pay the bills.
- Financial support for additional help like colorist or flatters.
Other than that, once your comic is published you receive your 50% share monthly. I have great insight of my viewership in the backend of the site. Payments have always been on time.
Biggest gripe is the high share both Tapas and I have to give over to 3rd party companies like the Apple store. They take their share and it is substantial.
Big no-no for many artists when it comes to the Incubator Program. For good reasons - giving up your IP is a scary thing for any artist and can have long lasting implications.
Tapas doesn't go into much detail when it comes to this topic, mainly because, similar to the compensation, this part of the contract will be different for every artist. Since they don't, I will - to explain to you why I, as an artist, very happily signed away 50% of my IP.
What you give up: 50% of your IP. You could probably ask for a different percentage if that makes sense for you. This doesn't include artistic rights. What I write and draw is up to me - Tapas has no contractual power over my work. This, again, may be different for some artists that may ask for an editor or who work with an additional writer.
What you gain in return: This is what nobody seems to want to talk about when it comes to online rants about this topic. Nobody gives up their IP for nothing. Aside from the financial support stated above, Tapas also acts almost like a manager for your IP and works on getting your story out into the world. Some may have the potential for movie, TV or book deals. Tapas also takes care of all marketing, internally and externally. They are spending money on you, it is in their best interest to try and make it back by expanding the readership.
Will Tapas have my IP forever and ever?
Again, this depends on your contract negotiations, but in my case, my IP will fully return to me after a certain period of time. Even when I die, my IP and rights will fall to my next of kin (I asked about that specifically, since these are the questions that keep me up at night).
If there is interest, the contract could be extended - likely if the IP is successful. But it is on Tapas to have done a good enough job until then to convince you as the artist to be willing to sign with them again. The power is with you, not with them.
This can be different for artists that receive more support from Tapas, be it writing, editing or whatever else there could be done. The incubator program may pair artists with writers, which becomes a whole different deal that requires different solutions from a contractual basis.
What my example shows you is the fact that you won't sign away your rights blindly. Tapas won't pressure you into anything. It is on you, as a professional, to know what you want, what you expect, to get legal support or even opinions of people with more experience than you.
Publishing and day to day communication
After everything was said and done I was assigned an editor, a lovely person by the name Serena, whom is my major contact to Tapas and ensures that my poor spelling and grammar won't make me look like a fool. (Sadly she doesn't look over my blog posts, so you just have to deal with it)
Questions are answered quickly, if I run into problems, they offer support or work on solutions. Overall, working with the Tapas team is a wonderful relaxed experience. They are professional and well aware that artists are human beings and not drawing machines.
There are additional complaints I have seen, like the layout Tapas requires, timelines, etc. In order to keep this short (hahaha...), I won't go into those topics, but if you have additional questions, feel free to comment or contact me on twitter, tapas forums, or tapas.
It is easy to get upset when you see complaints on Twitter about Tapas - but so far I have seen no complaints from artists that are actually under contract. And that should tell you something.
I can't recommend stopping to post on Tapas or not applying to the Incubator program. The opportunity is great, a lot of fun and bashing this company hurts creators like me. I selfishly wish Tapas nothing but success, so that they can invest even more into talented artists and storywriters in the future.
Thank you for reading.
Tl;dr - As an artist, always read your contracts and ask for changes until you feel comfortable with what you are signing. Tapas is an extremely fair partner and they will do their best to support you and make you happy.
As a reader, supporting Tapas means supporting artists like me. And for that I thank you.