How Do Manga Artists Make Money?
You might be wondering how do manga artists make money, and how much money they earn? Manga artists can have multiple revenue streams. The first first one is the release of manga chapters where they get revenues for each page. Then, if the manga is successful, the manga artist will receive royalties and licensing revenues from the byproducts such as manga volumes, anime episodes, video games, figurines and merchandising.
How much do manga artists get paid for their manga pages?
In Japan, the price of a page will depend on the genre of the manga and on the experience of the manga artist (source). Mainstream genres (action, adventure, slice of life…) will tend to be paid more, while more niche genres (erotic, BL…) will be paid less as they will sell less. The same, famous artist will attract more sales and therefore publishers will pay them more than newbies.
Low end publishers pay between ¥5,000 and ¥10,000 ($44 and $88) for a page in black and white.
But for big magazines, in 2021, prices for a page will range from around ¥15,000 ($132) for a young artist to around ¥65,000 ($573) for a renowned artist.
A chapter being around 20 pages, manga artists will therefore earn between ¥100,000 and ¥1,300,000 ($882 and $11,473) every episode.
According to the frequency at which this manga is being published, the manga can earn this sum every week, two weeks, month…
With one chapter every week, this leads to mangaka making between ¥5,200,000 and ¥67,600,000 ($45,864 and $596,596) per year.
Note also that the amounts above are for pages in black and white. For pages in colour the price can almost be the double.
Yet, as I indicated in my article about the cost of making a manga, beware that manga artists do not fully benefit from these sums. First there will be taxes, and then payments for supplies, food, studio rental, assistants…
How much do manga artists earn for manga volumes sold?
Where it starts to be interesting for manga artists is when their manga is being published as volumes. In that condition, manga artists will be able to negotiate royalties for each sale. This amount can be on on average around 10% (source 1, source 2).
A manga volume being sold at around ¥500, manga artists therefore perceive around ¥50 ($0.45) in royalties per volume sold.
To scale this up, the calculation is straightforward:
- 1,000 volumes earns ¥50,000 (around $440) in royalties,
- 1,000,000 volumes earns ¥50,000,000 (around $440,000) in royalties
This can seem appealing, but be aware that many manga are never published as volumes. And then not every manga sells 1 million volumes.
But for big hits, this can mean big money. Attack on Titan sold around 100 million volumes with 34 volumes released over 12 years. This leads to an estimated earning of ¥147 million ($1.3 million) per volume.
And manga such as Naruto has for instance sold for over 250 million volumes, and One Piece is close to 500 million. You can have a look on Wikipedia for some more statistics on top manga sales.
How much do manga artists earn for an anime serialisation?
For anime, the principle is different. If the manga is successful, companies will offer manga artists to license their manga.
The licensing fee is on an episode basis, and can range between ¥100,000 and ¥200,000 ($882 and $1,765) per episode (source, source). Note that the publisher is the holder of the contract. As such it also takes a share in the transaction which is almost equal to the one of the manga artists.
As you can see, manga artists do not make a lot of money from anime broadcast. And this whatever the number of times an episode is being broadcast. The assumption is that the diffusion of the anime will help advertise and boost the sales of the manga. Hence, indirectly, it will boost the revenues the mangaka will make from manga volume’s royalties.
Manga artists might will also get royalties from the sales of DVD, BlueRay Discs or digital sales. The amount is around 1.75%, but this figure is also negotiated during the contract.
And some studies show that there is indeed some indication this works (source).
How much do manga artists earn from goodies and video games?
In this domain, figures are more sparse. It really depends on how the manga artists negotiate their contracts on a case by case basis.
They might have the choice between getting royalties from each sales. They can also license their story or their characters.
Do not hesitate to comment and ask questions.