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How Much Does A Mangaka Earn – Make Money As A Mangaka

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Key Takeaways

  • In Japan, a mangaka can make roughly $19,000 per year.
  • In the US, a mangaka can make roughly $65,000 per year.
  • Top-earning mangakas, like Eiichiro Oda, make roughly $26,000,000 per year.
  • Mangaka assistants in Japan make roughly $1,700 per year.
  • How much a mangaka earns usually depends on the contract they’re offered.
  • Many mangakas nowadays can support themselves by offering their manga through sites like Fanbox and Patreon.

A mangaka in Japan can make over ¥2,000,000 (roughly $19,000) per year or over ¥50000 (approximately $470) per volume. Eiichiro Oda, the top-earning mangaka in Japan, is rumored to make around ¥3.1 billion (roughly $26,000,000) per year.

Most manga artists won’t make above ¥2 million (roughly $19,000). However, there are a few ways artists have figured out how to support themselves full-time with their art in the digital age. Let’s explore some close-kept industry secrets behind the salary of a mangaka.

How Much A Mangaka Earns

While some mangakas make serious cash, that’s only a tiny percentage. However, according to some salary reports, the median salary for a mangaka in the US is around $65,700. However, in San Francisco, you can make roughly $98,000.

But a mangaka’s money doesn’t typically come from their salary alone. Royalties are a huge part of making a profit from the manga. Merchandise, including shirts, scrolls, and figures, comprise much of a mangaka’s earnings.

Those earnings double if the manga branches out to anime. Some mangakas, however, experienced a long road to being able to head their own manga.

Many started as assistants, earning around ¥180,000 (roughly $1,700) per year.

The Details of the Money

It’s not as common for a mangaka to be salaried by an animation company or a publisher. Manga is sold like books; how much a mangaka earns usually depends on the contract they’re offered.

A publisher offers a contract for a number of pages or a volume, and the mangaka is paid an upfront fee. How to go about convincing a publisher to land a contract?

Well, most mangakas have at least a volume drawn in advance to hook the publisher in, hopefully, to request more volumes. In some cases, mangakas have nothing to draw and instead pitch their idea using storyboard art or prior work.

When Things Get Big

That begs the question, what happens if the artist’s manga goes viral and sells millions of copies? It’s not unheard of. Some mangas have massive followings and seemingly explode overnight (Attack on Titan manga series).

Most manga authors receive a royalty from the sale of each volume. If a manga gets especially popular, the publisher will likely extend the contract for further volumes (and at a higher rate).

This is a tricky field for mangakas to navigate. While sudden success may seem like a great thing, it also comes with a number of legal loopholes and red tape to clear.

Negotiating Contracts

In particular, manga artists have to really advocate for themselves to get the earnings that they deserve, especially when the manga gets its own anime.

Some manga artists have remarked that they allowed merchandise to be produced of their characters in exchange for a licensing fee (which is standard). But no royalties were ever negotiated.

Therefore, companies make hundreds of thousands of dollars from the artists’ ideas, while the artist only walks away with a much smaller sum paid upfront.

Being a mangaka means having the potential to make a lot of money, but it’s almost the equivalent of a sports player making it to the major league. 

Contracts are difficult to navigate, and sometimes it’s best to get the advice of a lawyer before making any major decisions.

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Drawing From A Manga Called Akira – Photograph taken from an art book called Akira Club

Do Manga Artists Get Paid Well?

Many people wonder if manga artists make enough money to support themselves full-time. That’s dependent upon where they live, of course, and how much mangakas typically get paid there.

This is an important factor for anyone dreaming of becoming a mangaka to consider. Anything can be a hobby, but if you’re planning on making manga the number one priority in your life, you need to be able to support yourself.

Moving to Tokyo to get closer to where the manga markets are strongest isn’t exactly cheap either.

Japan’s Finest

Japan is the home of manga and the obvious gold standard for the industry. Being near the largest publishing houses and magazines will increase your chances of landing a contract or getting views on your self-published work.

But the areas where manga artists typically work are metropolitan areas, and rent can be extremely high.

Not only that, but if you’re a foreigner, you’ll have to deal with Visas and other international stipulations.

You’ll likely have to get a job to support yourself until you land a contract or assistant’s job, but the high cost of living might mean working long hours, which means less time to work on your art.

International Mangakas

Many Western people have found jobs as mangakas, assistants, or animators while residing in their home country.

You can gain valuable experience by interning at a graphic novel company or for another artist, even if it’s not in the manga style.

Many mangakas from the US started working for companies like Marvel or DC. While the art style is different, the organization and structure of the companies are very similar and offer valuable experience.

The Story Behind the Richest Mangakas

While it’s important to think realistically about making it big as a manga artist, exploring what may lie ahead is also fun.

Some mangas (and subsequent animes) can gain cult-like followings. Some artists have gone on to gain not only millions of dollars but fans as well. If fame isn’t something particularly revolting to you, read some of manga’s (and anime’s) top success stories.

Masashi Kishimoto

Widely regarded as one of the most well-known manga artists, Masashi Kishimoto is the mastermind behind ‘Naruto’ and its subsequent spinoffs. 

From a young age, Kishimoto dreamed of writing his own manga and drew all throughout the school. In particular, he was a fan of the beloved magazine Shonen Jump.

It wasn’t long before Kishimoto tried his hand at producing a shonen manga, and to his surprise, Shonen Jump picked it up.

The rest was history, as his naive and somewhat rebellious ninja-in-training character Naruto became a massive hit. Today, Kishimoto’s net worth is a staggering $25 million USD.

He’s ranked as the 6th richest mangaka in history, and his fortune only continues to grow with the development of new spinoff series and merchandise.

Eiichiro Oda

If Masashi Kishimoto is only the sixth highest-grossing mangaka, then who is the first? The answer might not surprise you. It’s the legendary Eiichiro Oda.

According to CBR, the artist has sold over 450 million volumes of his One Piece manga, and his net worth is around $200 million.

It’s incredible to think that a man who began with a single volume in 1997 has expanded to a massive fortune and multiple shows, video games, merchandise lines, and more.

If that’s not surprising, then perhaps it is the fact that Oda even has the Guinness World Record for the most published copies of the same series by an individual author.

Akira Toriyama

One more successful artist to note is Akira Toriyama, the founder of the Dragon Ball franchise. Toriyama is consistently ranked as the second highest-grossing mangaka in history, although there’s quite a steep disparity between his net worth and that of Oda.

It’s estimated that Toriyama clocks in around the $45 million range. That’s somewhat surprising since Dragon Ball first debuted in Shonen Jump in 1984.

That means the series and its wildly successful crossover, Dragon Ball Z, has been around for 37 years. So why does the mangaka of such a long-running series have a significantly lower net worth?

The issue has a lot of vagueness, but it could be due to royalty and licensing issues. Counterfeit merch is a huge problem, as are manga pirates who upload new content so others don’t have to pay for it. 

Oda’s not immune to that either, but he seems to have taken a note or two from mangakas before him and argued his way for his rightful dues.

Is Being A Mangaka A Good Career?

The highs and lows of being a mangaka are enough to scare young dreamers away from the career path. Is being a mangaka a good career? The answer is yes. If creating manga is your absolute passion, then you will do anything and everything in your power to create like you were destined to. If you’re only interested in being a mangaka for the fame and the royalties, then it might be wise to pick another career path.

What distinguishes the best mangakas apart? They’re fiercely dedicated to their work, including their characters and fans. They started small, writing for magazines like Shonen Jump and working up to larger installments and volumes.

They started as assistants to other manga artists, and most importantly, they practiced their art daily.

Mangakas Gone Virtual

The typical mangaka path to success involves drawing a manga, pitching the idea, and getting picked up by a publisher. Or, as an alternative, getting published in a magazine like Shonen Jump and finding critical acclaim.

But today, the rising stars of the manga world had a different path on their way up. In particular, many manga artists can grow their own followings online, sometimes amassing thousands of readers.

Sites like Fanbox make it easier to connect with other manga fans and self-publish your work.

There’s something to be said about self-publishing. In the traditional book industry, some authors made headlines when their names reached the New York Times Bestsellers List, yet a publisher didn’t represent them.

They were entirely self-made. And self-made seems to be a common theme among today’s emerging mangakas.

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The New Path to Making it Big

The answer to becoming a self-sufficient mangaka doesn’t necessarily lie in “making it big.” Some well-known mangakas have made their own personal fortunes without ever publishing in print. The reason why? They’ve found a niche to call their own.

Niches in anime and manga have dedicated fans who are more than willing to devote themselves to a series. Examples of niches include zombies, the supernatural, royalty, romance, historical fantasy, and even mermaids in bathtubs.

Dedicating yourself to a niche means having exclusive access to an audience and raises your likelihood of earning monthly support via sites like Patreon.

It’s no surprise that some of today’s top mangakas are making thousands of dollars per month on Patreon. In fact, some of the all-time earning users on Patreon are anime and manga artists.

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Manga in and of itself is a niche, so narrowing that down even further is a great way to maximize your income streams.

Answering whether or not being a mangaka is a good career, the answer is determined by what you want out of your life.

Do you want to stay home drawing manga instead of your boring office job? Or are you looking to go big or go home and be the next big anime and manga superstar?

Either way, making a decent, average income solely off your art is more than possible. That’s not to say it’ll be easy, but it’s possible. If you’re willing to make a consistent effort to reach that point, you’ll find yourself where you can be a full-time mangaka.

With so many content creators in today’s freelance world, mangakas fit right in.

How Much Does a Mangaka Make Per Volume?

Almost all mangakas start off by publishing a chapter of their manga at a time in a serial magazine or another similar platform.

If the story garners enough attention, they’ll receive a contract in which their chapters will be compiled into a single or tankōbon volume.

Industry Secrets

Initially, manga artists are usually paid per page for their manga. The price for that varies, depending on how well-known the magazine is, how featured the story will be, and more.

Mangaka Shūhō Satō gave a rare insight into his personal contract with a big-name manga magazine and how it compares to his contracts today. 

According to Medium, Shūhō first earned approximately ¥10,000 per page and was requested to draw 80 pages a month. That totals about $8,000 USD.

That amount may seem quite a bit, but it’s not much and on par for mangakas just starting off. Shūhō details the expenses he had to subtract from this total, including his assistants and materials. After subtracting these, Shūhō walked away with about $1300 USD for his 80 pages in Shonen Jump.

For his own personal salary, that’s not too entirely bad if he lived alone and in a smaller apartment, that could potentially be enough to get by.

But Shūhō didn’t stop there in his manga career. His earnings today? For Say Hello to Black Jack, the mangaka makes ¥35,000 (roughly $300) per page. That’s a huge difference from his first manga.

The funny thing is, his payment from Shonen Jump doesn’t even cover the expense for his assistants. This time, the difference is that he receives royalties, which likely make up the bulk of his income.

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Okuha

Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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