Notes From An Artist’s Agent

Christina A. Tugeau is an artist agent. For more information about her, check out her Web site: http://catugeau.wordpress.com

A month ago I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing the inspiring Nicholas Callaway, of Callaway Digital Arts, in their wonderful historic building (open sunny spaces using old bricks and beams) in the South Street Sea Port area of New York City. Our subject, of course, was the newly emerging industry of APP development and other digital offerings. As an artist agent, this is a thrilling but difficult area to encourage my artists to experiment in. There is normally no upfront money; it’s all shared revenue once the project begins making money. I’m afraid I cannot tell you what that will be either! The percentage of revenue from profits is negotiated per project, and a lot goes into figuring out that appropriate number. Many projects are earning $.99 or $3.99 or $10.99 or nothing if they are FREE. The upfront costs to the publisher for the production of these complex interactive “enhanced narratives” is substantial to begin with. You can see the problems if money is your objective.

Don’t get discouraged, however! It is a most exciting field and certainly changing and growing as I write. If your ideas tend to run in the interactive direction, this just might be for you! Nicholas mentioned that the one thing to look out for now in negotiating the rights of your traditional book projects is to try to “carve out” the rights to the three digital areas a bit more than you might normally if you see APP potential: e-books (more linear), Enhanced e-books (limited activities), and Interactive Rights for the more advanced APP projects. Be sure the publishing company plans on using these rights if they want to hold onto them. Try to limit the time frame that they have to use the digital rights before they revert back to you (possibly one year after print date).

One way this industry might prove money-making is in the e-commerce it naturally creates and develops. It’s a “long term view” as Nicholas says. He talked about the opportunities starting with the story, but then there may be so many other purchases related to the subject of the APP. The connection is made! The trick is to keep the consumer engaged. The necessary updates for the interactive details is an extra cost for the publisher, but also another opportunity to engage and interest the consumer. Nicholas likened it to a series in a traditional publisher’s list. Each new book in the series further engages the reader and makes it more likely that he or she will come back for the next book in the series. With APPs, the content is always evolving, changing, and updating. This, in kind, makes the opportunities for further e-commerce new and profitable as well. “Digital media lends itself to this…bringing people back.”

As to HOW to present an APP idea to an APP publisher, is also fairly wide open. You might wish to ask for a NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) signing before presenting an idea. This is the ‘land of ideas’, and it’s hard to protect yourself completely. A NDA can present problems for the publisher too, as Nicolas pointed out. It’s possible they have a ‘like’ idea in the works, and if they signed your NDA unknowing, it could prevent them from further development! I felt very trusting and presented four ideas from four artists while there, and two were kept for consideration. Both ideas were in an attractive, traditional book dummy format that Nicholas could hold and flip through in his office, but I later sent them to him digitally. (APP stories do not have to be in a 32 page format, of course.) Both ideas kept for consideration also had suggestions as to how the story could be enhanced to offer many areas of interaction: with games, information, music, further learning areas, voices, etc. I was pleased we’d somehow fallen on an acceptable way to show our ideas. Nicholas then said and repeated that the artist/writer should always keep this quote in mind when thinking about the needs for this new industry: “Character, Story, Play, Learning, Sharing (or ‘Community’ as he called it) all must come together in an APP.”

Now that about covers it ALL!…’Till tomorrow!

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