Self-Publishing Comics in the Digital Space

The digital age of comics is upon us, and with it an incredible new array of self-publishing opportunities. What’s so incredible is that these new services, they virtually negate the massive costs associated with standard small print runs. The one drawback to digital distribution is the fact that digital comics are still such a new idea. Web comics have been around for years, but digital comics are a relatively new phenomenon, and it seems as though the goal of digital is still to eventually make it as a print comic creator. But will digital comics eventually prove themselves a sustainable, and profitable medium?

When I’m thinking about digital self-publishing, the company that impresses me the most is Graphicly. They used to be a comic book app, ala ComiXology, but they didn’t want to get into direct competition with those guys and completely changed their business model. Now they help to publish and distribute digital books, and in our case digital comic books, to different platforms such as the Kindle Fire or the Apple Bookstore.

If you check out their website they offer three different publishing services at three different price points. First, they offer a web-based approach to your self-publishing desires. This is free, though Graphicly takes 30% of your revenue should your comic actually start selling. Your comic is available through the Graphicly Store and the Graphicly Facebook app, so it’s not everywhere, but it is out there! Then they have an option where you publish your comic as an eBook on the big eBook marketplaces! They format your files for you, optimize them for the platforms, and it only costs you a single, one-time payment of $150! They don’t take any of our profits this way, however the different marketplaces claim their 30-50%.

Then they offer the granddaddy of all their services, customized branded apps for $500. This will allow you to sell your comics through your own specialized apps. You get to sell your books through something created specifically for that madness! Because these services are so new, there doesn’t seem to be much chatter up on the interwebs, but I’m going to try to talk to the people at Graphicly in the near future to get the lowdown on their new model. Oh and Graphicly, if you’re listening, please please please make your website more compelling! It’s so incredibly bland! You can do better!

Steve Broome has a good breakdown/cost analysis of Graphicly’s new service if you care to take a look.

Aquafadas also has a digital distribution service up and running. They provide users with free software, ComicComposer, that creators can use to format their files for viewing, very much like ComiXology’s Guided View technology. However, unlike Graphicly, they do not provide a connection between you and the marketplace with custom designed apps. Instead, the users must create their own specific apps for different platforms, which Aquafadas says is easy to do, no code involved. Aquafadas does charge licensing fees for their software if you do end up publishing something, $150 for application licenses and $350 for publishing. They seem like they cater less to individual creators, but their prices aren’t much different from Graphicly’s, so hey, maybe they’re worth a shot.

Then we have ComiXology, the king of digital hosting and distributing. They’ve got deals with the Big Two and thousands of others, and they’ve just recently reached 100 million comics sold! However, what’s important for the independent creator is their all-new independent initiative. You submit your work, and it goes to a panel of reviewers. If they dig it, they’ll put it up in a special section of ComiXology and you split the proceeds 50/50. Right now it’s in private beta, but if you’d like to get on this train you can send them an email and see if they’ll take you on when it goes public.

So we have three all-new, all digital distribution methods. Are they worth the price? Can you make a living wage this way? I’m hoping to talk to both digital comics creators and web creators to see how they feel about this new method of delivery, and whether or not hitting it big in print is still the dream?

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