The inherent injustice in the current practice which allows Trek artists to sell their work at the cons while Trek writers receive no monetary remuneration for their efforts.

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Title: "The inherent injustice in the current practice which allows Trek artists to sell their work at the cons while Trek writers receive no monetary remuneration for their efforts." (the title used here on Fanlore)
Creator: Pat Stall
Date(s): March 1978
Medium: print
Fandom:
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The inherent injustice in the current practice which allows Trek artists to sell their work at the cons while Trek writers receive no monetary remuneration for their efforts. is a 1978 essay by Pat Stall.

It was printed as a long letter of comment in March 1978 in Atavachron #1.

The topic is fan art, fan fiction, and profit. The con Stall refers to was Star Trek World Expo.

A similar essay was The Starving Artist Syndrome (1977).

"Two dilemmas were presented to me by disparate out equally concerned groups at the recent February con in New York. Perhaps Atavachron readers will be able to offer some viable solutions."

Some Topics Discussed

  • Star Trek World Expo
  • fandom and profit, inequities
  • the risks and sloppiness of the post office
  • if fanworks can't get fair money, how about more ego boo and compliments
  • zine eds treating fan artists badly and taking advantage of them
  • poor communication among fans

The Essay

First, several friends, who are among the top writers of fan-fic, pointed out the inherent injustice in the current practice which allows Trek artists to sell their work at the cons - and some at very high prices - while Trek writers receive no monetary remuneration for their efforts. Both groups, of course, work free for fanzine publishers because sharing such talents with other fen interested in the perpetuation of the Star Trek dream is what the fanzine phenomenon is all about. Nevertheless, artists may display and auction not only the originals from these publications, but also art work they have created especially for direct sale at cons.

While it is true that writers who also publish their own zines may realize a profit of a few hundred dollars after expenses, even this sum is often tied up in the form of an advancement to their printer for the promotion and printing of the next edition. A zine is only as good as its writing, artwork, graphics, and printing, and it would seem that contributing writers are getting the short end of the stick.

It seemed inadequate to apologize for the fact that down through the ages art has always had an independent life of its own and that collectors have always purchased and cherished it for the pleasure it provides, regardless of the reasons, while those who enjoy reading merely purchase books (or zines) and not the original manuscripts. It seems equally inconsequential to point out that even professional writers receive only a 10% royalty from their publishers - and this, only after all printing, advertising, and distribution costs have been deducted from sales totals realized, and this amounts to only two or three cents per paperback or twenty to thirty cents per hardback in terms of payment to the author.

To establish "price controls" for fan art would be impossible because such figures would not take into account the costly differences in artists' expenses (one may purchase paper and pencil; another pen and ink; another, paints and brushes; another film, cameras, and processing because she works from models.), the time the artist devotes to creating illos that could be spent in more lucrative work, and the stylistic preferences of individual buyers (what do we do when a lovely painting goes up for auction and ten bidders want it?). Rather than equalize treatment of Trek artists and writers by eliminating artwork in fanzines or art auctions at cons, which would gravely diminish the quality of fanzines and consomitant pleasure such beautiful art provides, can we not find some positive way to reward our Trek writers?

The second problem discussed with me at the con involved concerns expressed by several top Trek artists. Each has, for several years, worked free for various fanzine publishers, but some have become so disillusioned by shabby treatment and outright rip-offs that they are discourage from further contributions. Complaints ranged from original art work not being returned or being so badly damaged as not to be saleable, to art work being sent to editors but never acknowledged, or printed so bad that linear quality or tonal nuances were obliterated. Some editors make unreasonable demands on the artists, telling them exactly what scene to illo, how to interpret them, what size, medium, or technique to employ, and ordering them to send everything by too brief a deadline, instead of allowing the artist to read and respond to the story in her own creative way. Granted that zine eds often have limited budgets and cannot afford a large number of foldouts, half-tones, or multi-colored screen prints, but established Trek artists are not amateurs and they do not abuse printing requirements when restrictions are frankly discussed. Obviously, a zine ed who cannot afford half-tone reproductions should not request illos from artists who specialize in painting or work exclusively in pencil renderings.

Style, which is a combination of media, technique, talent, and imagination, is an individual artist's trademark. He should not be forced to debase his work by sacrificing one or more of the components of his style to the whims of a zine editor. After all, the editor is still the final authority; if he doesn't think the illo fits the story or poem, he does not have to use it. A good editor knows his artists as well as his writers, and he allows them to find their own rapport in the interpretive quality of the artist's illo.

Some of the artists with whom I spoke at the con related yet additional horror stories. One had sent twelve illos to a zine ed, which never arrived, thanks to the U.S. Mail. Many months of a labor of love disappeared from the face of the earth.

Another artist's work was used, without permission or remuneration, and reproduced on buttons by a pro dealer who sold them at the con. Yet another artist stated her objection to what she termed the crowing insult - the ads that appear regularly in zines which state that "... a new zine is being planned and artists and writers are desperately needed. Send contributions, along with postage to return your work, to..." Established Trek artists and writers are so heavily committed they do not have time to create and submit work on speculation, let alone to publishers who announce blatantly that such contributions ere not even worth the price of a few stamps.

Artists and writers - any creative individuals - cannot long endure the bruised ego of knowing their work is not appreciated. Two more of our best artists have now gafiated to the great loss of all of us who love their work. Can we not be a little more considerate of those who remain and the as-yet undiscovered new artists who will come to take their places, and show them that we do, in fact, value their contributions to our wonderful world of Star Trek fanzines?

Fan Comments

To Pat Stall, who had some good points: Concerning possible profits from zines (she stated,"...writers who also publish their own zines may realize a profit of a few hundred dollars after expenses..."), I'd like to know who she means?

Off hand, I've only heard rumors about one or two who may be making a profit off of zines. From my own experience, as zine ed, unless they have very exact cost estimates, ends up losing money. We barely scraped through on TOSOP #l, and that was with the mostly free offset we were able to do with our artwork, and using the cheapest mimeo paper we had for the rest. On #2, we lost money, and in fact might not have been able to mail the zine out without waiting for several months (until Signe and I could have added at least a hundred dollars to what we had), except that we mailed most of the zone 8 copies out by UPS. Our estimate of postage came up short on the zone 8 copies by about 30 cents per copy, and when you consider that with our being out on the West Coast, something like at least 1/3 of our orders were zone 8, that is a lot of money. Plus, we had slightly underestimated printing costs. We were charging 12.75 in person, final printing cost (after 6% tax added on, plus screens for Alice Jones' work, and some extra hand collection costs for Signe's foldout) was more like 12.90 per copy. So, on the average, we lost at least 10 cents per copy. For 400 copies that's at least $140.00. And actually it was more. We had envelopes to buy, plus address labels, plus paying our typist for supplies, and we bought our own cover stock. Then there are the hassles we are having on TOSOP#2

[snipped]

However, on what Pat is talking about - writers not being able to get a monetary compensation whereas the fan artists do. Well, there is always the idea since, it is done at conventions with other written forms, such as scripts, that maybe some people might be interested in the original manuscript, or even the first rough draft. (For example, although this is not a fan-written item: I managed to get the complete rough draft of Alan Dean Foster's Log 10 for $22.00 -- $2 over the minimum bid price, and though this isn't the best MS in the world, it is rather valuable. It just wasn't going at the right con for that sort of thing. At some con other than the one at which I bought it, it might well have sold for $50.00 or more.) Thia is merely a suggestion. I have no idea how feasible it might be, because it really depends on what the buyers are interested in. But as a writer myself, I am somewhat interested in it. If you want to see how a particular writer's mind works, a rough draft of a manuscript with corrections can tell you some interesting things. I know part of the reason the art goes. People like visual things, something you can identify by sight alone, and display as well (I understand that well, having four pieces of fan art in proud display on my living room wall). [1]

References

  1. ^ from Amy Falkowitz in Atavachron #2