We tend to think that buying manga in English or any other languages for that matter will support our favorite mangaka.
But according to Deb in ANN’s Answerman column, that’s not the case at all.
Say what? Does it mean that everything you’ve been doing to support the manga industry all this time is futile?
If that’s what you’re feeling right now, I totally understand that.
The Answerman’s take about buying manga in English
You can read the whole explanation about this issue right here on ANN. But if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, I already summarized that for you.
According to Deb, it’s true that the mangaka only receives the royalty payment for the books sold in Japan. They won’t receive any royalty payment at all from the overseas sales.
The reason for that is because the manga sales in Japan are far greater than the manga sales in the US. Even if we combine the overseas sales from other countries, there’s a high chance that it will never be at the same par as the sales in Japan.
Is she right about that?
Well, I won’t deny what Deb was right about that. But the reason why they’re not getting their royalty payment from the overseas sales isn’t because they’re already content enough with the sales in Japan.
In fact, it has nothing to do with the sales at all.
The reason for that has a lot to do with their publishing contract.
If you read my post about Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan’s mangaka issue, it’s clear that the mangaka will always be at the bottom of the supply chain. They will always be the last person to receive fees. What’s even worse, they don’t have any say on how the publisher intends to do with their work.
Isn’t that unfair?
Well, it is. But that’s what stated in their contract.
Same goes for the foreign rights. The mangaka no longer has the rights to their work when they get a manga deal. And that includes the foreign rights.
It’s hard to say what kind of publishing contract they have. But it’s not surprising that they’re giving away their foreign rights as well.
Well, if you can’t speak another language, why do you bother to keep the foreign rights with you? Even if they want to, they won’t bother to keep it with them. It’s too much of a hassle.
It’s also the same reason why many authors will always want to get a book deal no matter what it takes. They don’t want to deal with these publishing hassles. They only want to focus on their writings. Same goes for the mangaka as well.
If you’re a publisher in your country and you want the manga to be translated into your language, you don’t deal with the mangaka directly. You have to deal with the publisher through an agency specialized in the licensing rights instead.
Whenever you make sales, you have to pay a specific amount of fees to the publisher. They may pay a certain percentage of the licensing fees to the mangaka. But that is if the contract includes fees for the foreign rights.
For the most part, it’s possible that they don’t receive any fees for the foreign rights at all.
Please continue to support them in any way you can
At this point, you may be thinking that everything you do is futile since the money you spend to support your favorite mangaka don’t even go to them.
But here’s the thing that you need to realize. Even if the money you spend doesn’t go to the mangaka directly, it helps with supporting the manga industry in where you live.
Doing so will make the publishers confident enough to bring more manga to your country. Of course, their decision will always be based on the sales potential of the manga.
But if you like the manga, go get them as a way to support your local publishers.
As for the mangaka, nothing will make them happier when they find out that their manga is well-received overseas.
For them, the joy of seeing how much you love their manga is priceless. That alone will make them want to work harder so then you can keep enjoying their work.
From the look of it, your effort to support your favorite mangaka isn’t futile, after all. You may not be able to give the money to them directly. But you give them moral support to continue with what they’re doing instead.
And that’s the most important thing to them. Financial success is important too. But that’s not the reason why they choose to become a mangaka. They do it because they want to and they can’t see themselves doing anything else other than making an interesting manga that many people can enjoy.