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Steal This Distribution Plan!

| April 4, 2011 | 19 Comments

The independent comic book creator faces no shortage of obstacles.  One of the most vexing is distribution.  How do you get your book in the hands of any and everyone who might enjoy it?  How do you profit from your work so that you can keep doing it?  How do you carve a niche for yourself in a highly competitive industry and establish a sustainable career as a creator?  The fact is, EVERY creator, be it the top scribe at Marvel, or a college freshman running off mini-comics at Kinkos, deals with these concerns.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.  Just more difficult questions:

  • Should I pitch my work to independent publishers or should I self-publish?
  • Should I do work-for-hire high profile projects, or focus on creating my own IP?
  • Should I embrace the webcomic business model, and give my content away for free in order to build a readership who I can hope to sell books and merchandise to in the future?
  • Should I court Diamond, the major comic book distributor, or should I ignore the direct market completely?
  • Should I go on the convention circuit to bring my book directly to the fans?
  • Should I embrace digital distribution, and focus on this emerging market?

And there are more.  Many more.  I deal with these types of questions for every project I work on.  At this point in my career, these are the things I’m focusing on.  Conquering the distribution dilemma is the next big milestone in my progression as a creator.  By this point, I’ve got the basics down.  I know how to start a comic book (and more importantly, I know how to COMPLETE one.)  I have a grasp on storytelling, enough that I’m confident there IS an audience out there for my work.  I know my limitations, enough to be willing to seek out collaborators whose strengths cover my weaknesses, so that the work we produce is solid.  I’ve learned to sell my books at conventions and online, and am starting to understand what makes a compelling pitch to a target audience.  In short, my books are getting there. However, simply continuing to do what I’m now doing will never be enough to get me where I want to go.

FACT: It’s nearly impossible to build a sustainable career if you have to hand sell every book you produce.

Conventions are great.  They currently make up the bulk of my comic related income.  The Albany and Boston Comic Cons are coming up this month, and I’m thrilled to be doing them.  But conventions alone cannot sustain a creator.  A nice supplement to an income, certainly, and a valuable brand building opportunity most definitely.  But the convention circuit alone can’t sustain a career.  And the same goes for selling books to fans directly from your website.  Sure, there’s some money to be made there, and there are examples of creators who do generate significant revenue this way, but they’re a rare breed.

FACT: Digital distribution is still a long way from being able to generate substantial, consistent revenue for the independent creator.

I’m as bullish as anyone about digital comics.  Comics on the iPad make a ton of sense, as does universal access to your comics archive on the go, on demand access to a never out of print library, and all the other cool features about digital comics.  I’m REALLY excited about the near zero cost of production/liability for me, the creator, to distribute digital comics.  But despite all of the hoopla around digital comics, and fear that digital will be the death of print as we know it, the truth is, the current market for digital comics is pretty damn tiny.  Yes, it’s growing.  Yes, it’s the future.  Yes, you should be paying super close attention to what’s going on in the digital space.  But NO, having your book sold on Graphic.ly or Comixology is not going to deliver boatloads of cash and thousands of readers your way.  Not yet, anyway.

FACT: Webcomics are a long-term play.  Like, decades long.

I love the webcomics business model.  And I love the spirit of webcomicers in general.  I love the direct connection you can have with your readers.  I love the power of delivering content on a regular schedule to a readership who make checking in on the latest update a part of their weekly routine.  I love the immediate feedback you can get on what’s working in your story and what isn’t.  I love hosting advertising, essentially making money while I sleep.  I love the fact that die-hard readers will support creators by pre-ordering books or buying merchandise.  I love the fact that with webcomics, the size of your readership doesn’t depend on the amount of money you can raise for a print run, or the approval of any middle-man.

Yup, I love webcomics.  But the webcomics model takes a long, long, long, time (if ever) to be a sustainable one.  We’re talking years and years and years of consistent, frequent, and quality updates to gradually build a readership big enough to make an impact on your bottom line.  Sure, there are the occasional “over-night” sensations that catch lightning in a bottle, but these are the very rare exceptions.

FACT: The direct market still matters.

Despite all of the doom and gloom in the industry, the majority of comic books are (and will be for some time) sold in local comic book shops around the country.  Yes, there are other outlets, especially for graphic novels.  And yes, depending on your particular product, the LCS might not be the best fit for your book.  But that does not change the fact that if you’re interested in doing mainstream independent comics (not an oxymoron) you’re probably going to want to court the direct market.

Take a book like The Stuff of Legend.  It’s a dark fairy tale, packaged in an unconventional size, with unconventional art, and released on an unconventional schedule.  There isn’t a single superhero in the book.  It’s not the typical comic you’d expect to find on the shelves of your LCS.  But I’m betting it’s there.  And it’s there for two reasons.

A.) It’s really freaking good.

B.) Retailers go to bat for it.

The Stuff of Legend was one of the most “hand sold” books by retailers across the country last year.  I know local retailer Larry Doherty of Larry’s Wonderful World of Comics is personally responsible for turning nearly every one of his regulars into fans of the book.  And he did that by hosting the creators on multiple occasions, and by ordering big on this comic.

If you’re interested in making a living in comics, you want retailers out there selling your stuff.

Steal This Plan!!!

Okay, I’ve talked a lot about how things are, but I haven’t said anything about what to do with this information.  Well, that changes now.  What I’m going to share here is the skeleton of an approach to distribution for the independent creator that I think makes a lot of sense.  It’s for a book Matt Zolman and I have been working on for over a year now.  Here goes:

EPIC Distribution Plan (As of 4/4/11)

The Product: EPIC is a superteen action comedy, told in traditional American superhero style issues, which will be collected into 5-6 issue trade collections, and a 12-13 issue hardcover.

The Hook: Teen superhero whose kryptonite is hot chicks.  (Read the full premise here.)

Target Audience: Primarily superhero fans, pre-teen to adult.  Targeting readers of books like Ultimate Spider-man, Teen Titans, Invincible, ie more light-hearted superhero stuff.  Might broaden to target fans of high school comedies (ex. SuperBad, American Pie, Glee (but replace the singing with superhero fights.)

Strengths:

  • Strong pitch that connects with a broad audience (broader than just superhero fans) and elicits a strong reaction (usually a chuckle.)
  • Very strong art.
  • Strong cast of visually appealing (toyetic) characters.

Challenges:

  • “Unknown” creative team.  (At least as far as the direct market is concerned.)
  • Still a superhero book, in a market that currently supports only a handful of independent creator- owned superhero books in the top 300 of monthly books sold.
  • Production schedule.  Given current obligations of the creative team, producing more than 4-5 issues a year seems unlikely.

THE PLAN

  1. Finish EPIC #1. Regardless of whatever plans of distribution we may have in mind, first things first.  We need something to distribute!  This is where the team is currently, hard at work on the first issue, with a completion date set for mid-July.
  2. Big print run for EPIC #1. The first issue is a 32-page, bonus sized issue.  I’m confident in the product, enough to take a chance on a large off-set print run.  It will be a while before I go back to print with more EPIC (see below) so my co-creator and I will be planning on selling from this run for a good long time.
  3. Debut EPIC #1 at a major con. We’ve targeted Baltimore for debuting EPIC #1.  We debuted the #0 issue of EPIC there last year, and have high hopes for an even bigger sales day for the first issue.  Thanks to the larger print run, we’ll make more per issue sold than before.
  4. Release EPIC #1 digitally via all major distributors the following week. Immediately following its convention debut, EPIC will be released digitally through all of ComixTribe’s digital partners, including Graphic.ly, Iverse, MyDigitalComics, Oxicomics, DriveThruComics, The Illustrated Section, and hopefully Comixology.
  5. Reach out to local retailers for events and distribution. I’ll plan on reaching out to all of my local retailers to see about doing an in-store signing/book release party for EPIC.  Because of the large offset print run, I’ll be able to sell the books directly to local retailers at their standard discount and NOT lose money on sales.  (Something simply impossible with print-on-demand.)  Simultaneously, co-creator/artist Matt Zolman can do the same thing in his part of the country.
  6. Launch EPIC as a webcomic. Shortly after its debut locally in print and world-wide in digital, likely sometime in September, EPIC will finally launch as an ad supported, regularly updating webcomic.  We’ll be making the two EPIC short stories available for free on the web, and shortly after, start releasing content from issue #1.  Updates will be 1 or 2 times a week, plus bonus content and fan outreach.  For people who really enjoy the story and either want to buy EPIC #1 immediately rather than wait for it to be released page by page, they can purchase immediately, in print or digitally.  We’ll also post links to all of the retailers who are carrying our book.
  7. Keep on producing! All the while, the creative team will continue to produce the book.  As the writer, I’ll be 2-3 issues ahead of the rest of the creative team, and be taking the lead in running the webcomic, marketing the book, and retailer outreach.  This will allow the artists to focus on the pages.
  8. Hold off on printing issues #2-5. A key point here.  I will NOT be going immediately to print for issue #2 and beyond.  I’m of the opinion that for non-issue #1 issues, floppies only make sense for national distribution in the direct market.  At this point in the plan, I won’t be there yet.
  9. Release issues #2-5 digitally, as soon as they’re done. While PRINTING individual issues doesn’t make a lot of sense, releasing them digitally certainly does.  Digital releases will always stay a full issue ahead of what’s being updated on the webcomic, to encourage webcomic readers who simply HAVE to know what happens next to purchase these issues digitally.
  10. When the first trade’s worth of issues are nearly complete, it’s time to go nationwide. One of the big lessons I’ve learned from tuning into #comicmarket Twitter Tuesdays is that retailer’s biggest concern about indy books is that they won’t ship on time.  The only way to guarantee that is to NOT solicit until the book is complete.  So that’s what we’ll do.  By waiting until the first trade’s worth of issues is complete, we’ll be able to attack the direct market in a way that works for the direct market.  That means soliciting issues #1-5 as a mini-series releasing monthly, and the sixth month, release the trade.  By this time, I’ll be able to make a compelling case to retailers for why they should carry the book.  I can provide them PDFs of the entire series if need be.  Ideally, through conventions, local events, digital sales, and the webcomic, the comic will already have enough of a buzz and a fanbase that they’ll be vocal about supporting EPIC’s expansion to the direct market.

So there you have it.  As of today, this is the plan going forward for EPIC.  Will it change and adapt as situations change?  Certainly.  But it’s a start, and I think it’s a solid, best of all worlds approach.

Some Concerns

  • Money. It’s always a concern.  Will we have the capital to do the large off-set print run at the start of the process.  Will we have the capital to support large print runs when it’s time to distribute nationally.  Will digital and in-person sales help off-set these costs?
  • Production. Can our creative team keep on-track?  We all have demanding personal lives, and jobs outside of comics to pay the bills. Can we keep the band together long enough to build something special?
  • Will the direct market support a book AFTER its digital release?  Retailers hate the concept of “day and date” digital releases.  They think by releasing a product digitally at the same time as the print offering can only hurt their sales.  Well, what about releasing a comic digitally MONTHS ahead of the LCS print release?  What about a product that can be read for free online?  Will retailers support a product like that?  There’s evidence to suggest they will.  PVP had a successful reprint run in comic shops.  Axecop started as a webcomic before Dark Horse picked it up, releasing it as a graphic novel being sold in stores.  And Box 13 and the upcoming Moon Girl graphic novels were first released as digital sales through Comixology.  Still, it’s worth thinking about.
  • Is the book good enough? Will it find an audience?  Will it sell?  This is always a concern.  Unfortunately, there really is only one way to find out.

Okay, that’s the plan!

What do you think?  Am I crazy?  Are there major flaws in my approach that you can see, from either a reader or retailer’s perspective?  Is this a plan you could see implementing yourself?  Let’s discuss in comments below.

Remember, here at ComixTribe, we’re creators  helping creators make better comics.  But we’d like to be creators helping creators SELL better comics, as well.

***

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, and educator residing in Newburyport, MA.  He is the writer and co-creator of EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and Tears of the Dragon, a swords and sorcery fantasy.  His past work includes OVER, a romantic comedy graphic novel, and Super Seed, the story of the world’s first super powered fertility clinic. His work has been published by DC and Arcana comics.

Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, a new website empowering creators to help each other make better comics.

Contact Tyler via email (tylerjamescomics@gmail.com), visit his website TylerJamesComics.com, follow him on Twitter, or check him out on Facebook.

 

 

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About the Author ()

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, educator, and publisher residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of THE RED TEN, a superhero murder mystery, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and TEARS of the DRAGON, a swords and sorcery fantasy. Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, which is both a new imprint of quality creator owned titles, and an online community where creators help creators make better comics. Follow him on Twitter @tylerjamescomics, or send him an email at tyler.james@comixtribe.com.

Comments (19)

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  1. Cesar Feliciano says:

    Good stuff Tylet. I really enjoyed the article. This plan send well thought out. The only way to make it work is to do ask all of the things you’ve outlined without dopping the ball along the way. It can take a lot out of you, but perseverance can go a long way.

  2. Tim Fischer says:

    In your first couple of fact statements, you hint at the few exceptions to the rules, such as:

    • “…creators who do generate significant revenue [by selling their work at shows/conventions], but they’re a rare breed.”

    • “…having your book sold on Graphic.ly or Comixology is not going to deliver boatloads of cash and thousands of readers your way. Not yet, anyway.”

    • “Sure, there are the occasional ‘over-night’ [webcomics] sensations that catch lightning in a bottle, but these are the very rare exceptions.”

    …and you emphasize how unlikely a chance for success these scenarios afford someone thinking about attempting any of them. Yet, when you add the Direct Market approach into your consideration, you offer up ONE anecdotal example of a single retailer supporting ONE creator-owned comic, and go on to unequivocally state, “If you’re interested in making a living in comics, you want retailers out there selling your stuff.” No “…slight chance.” No “…rare exception.” The “…years and years and years of consistent, frequent, and quality updates to gradually build a readership big enough to make an impact on your bottom line…” qualifier that you apply to webcomics also, almost WORD FOR WORD, applies to the independent-comics-distributed-via-Direct-Market approach.

    I have to question whether or not you’re objectively looking at the pros and cons of these different approaches, or if you came up with these fact statements to assure yourself of the decisions that you’ve ALREADY made for your own comic (which looks AWESOME, by the way).

    Here’s what I’m getting at: You could’ve posted your plan for your comic “EPIC” without the fact statements. As I read this post, I felt as though I was being manipulated and set up for the big TRUTH of your distribution plan. Bringing up your thoughts and opinions on webcomics, digital distribution, and convention appearances, calling them facts, and offering little to no supporting facts or substantiating claims makes me wonder what sort of discussion you want to have.

    • Tyler James says:

      Tim, thanks for taking the time to comment and for a thoughtful reply.

      You’re right to call me out for my approach in this article. My “FACTS” were meant to be provocative. Caveat-laden tepid statements don’t tend to invoke a reaction from readers…and I do want both a reaction and a dialog.

      Also, with this post, I wanted to focus on the things that indy creators by and large aren’t talking about:
      – That a webcomics model alone probably isn’t the answer.
      – That digital comics sales aren’t a goldmine. At least not yet.
      – That the core revenue streams for indy creators (POD comic sales at cons and through one’s own website) probably aren’t enough.
      – That retailers are and will continue to be a significant power in the comics industry, and ignoring them completely might be a mistake.

      You’re right, my “proof” for the importance of the direct market was a little thin. There are a lot more examples I could have offered. This wasn’t the core of what the post was about, so I gave a relevant example and moved on to what I really wanted to talk about: An approach the little guy could take that might make the DM possible,.

      I think the Plan that I offered, warts and all, is one that has taken a look at the pros and cons of ALL of the approaches I talked about. I’m not saying one is better than the other. I am suggesting creators think about doing them ALL.

      FACT: I have no clue if my plan will be effective.

      FACT: My plan is a draft. (Says so in the post.)

      FACT: I’m hoping you guys will help me refine and improve with your thoughts, suggestions, and experiences.

  3. Geoff Weber says:

    Good post, although I am not sure if the 1 month lead time will be sufficient to make digital downloads an attractive option over the webcomic. Printed books at least that gives you something to physically own.

    • Tyler James says:

      You may be right, Geoff. Then again, I’m bullish on what can be done with digital. Cool stuff like embedding an audio commentary with a downloadable comic, options for view letters/colors/inks/pencils on or off at the touch of a button, panel to panel transitions, and a smoother, ad free reading experience MAY be worth it to some consumers.

      Then, there’s also the readers who have never read my comic on its website, but stumble across it while looking for other digital books to buy.

  4. Scott Dubin says:

    Tyler,

    I’m not sure what a “distribution plan” is exactly, is this like a business plan? Are business plan questions outside the scope of the feedback?

    Let’s look at “The Stuff of Legends”… you say in your response to Tim that it’s an example of “An approach the little guy could take that might make the DM possible,”. A quick Google search shows it was a free comic book day book in 2009. Did it premier as a free comic book day book, or was it already available?

    Is there a chance that Epic could be a free comic book day book? If so, would digital distribution ruin the chances of this? How does something get to be a free comic book day book? What are the criteria?

    You say retailers went to bat for The Stuff of Legends, but how did retailers know about the book? Is it because it was a free comic book day title, and that’s how retailers sampled it, or did they know about the book beforehand?

    Did Stuff of Legends go straight to trade after the free comic book day thing, or did it publish monthly for a while?

    I think this is all relevant to your suggested plan to go digital immediately but hold off on Diamond Distribution for the time being…

    More relevantly, have you considered getting three issues of Epic “in the can” and trying to market it as a three issue direct market miniseries? Have you considered getting 90 or so pages in the can and attempting to sell it to the direct market as a mini book like Takio (96 page one shot book)?

    If you think the direct market is important, I think the ideal would be simultaneous direct market and online release.

    I’m somewhat skeptical of the direct market’s potential for selling indie books by unknown creators myself, so don’t take what I’m writing as an endorsement of any particular plan, but if you really think the direct market is where its at, you might be doing yourself a disadvantage by going digital first…

    • Tyler James says:

      Scott, what I mean by “distribution plan” is simply how to disseminate comic stories to readers. In “the old days” options were limited. Today, not so much. Direct market, major book store chains, conventions, digital comics, webcomics, torrents…these are all ways books are delivered to readers. So, a distribution plan is one component of a business plan.

      The Stuff of Legend #1 was first solicited in previews through the direct market by Third World Studios. It was not their first book to be done so. In 2009 and 2010 Third World released FCBD issues, which was a huge promotional win for the book. As I said in my article, Stuff of Legend was non-traditional. Their floppies were about 40 pages, and I believe three floppies made up one trade. They did not release monthly, but released about three issues and then the trade in a year.

      Takio is great, and considering it’s target market, it’s format was perfect. (Just bought it for a 10 year old, and I think she’s going to love it.) With EPIC, I was looking at 4-5 issue trades. 4 issues would be great, but I’m not sure that’s the story I’m telling. I’d recommend indies pursue a 4-5 miniseries model though.

      But, if I wait to have a full trade’s worth of material completed before doing ANYTHING with EPIC, it could be problematic. First, that might take a year to a year and a half to complete. Second, I’d be missing out on the opportunities available to build a buzz for the book. You’re right, I’m skeptical of the direct market’s ability to sell indie books by unknown creators. SO START TO GET KNOWN!

      That’s where webcomics, convention specials, local store appearances, and yes, digital sales come in.

      Why do you think going digital first will put my book at a disadvantage in the direct market?

      • Scott Dubin says:

        I haven’t polled direct market retailers or anything, so these are just my thoughts, but:

        – Digital distribution is obviously extremely disruptive to the direct market business model, and threatens to put direct market retailers and diamond comics out of business.

        – Digital first distribution from a company like Comixology is arguably worse for them than simultaneous distribution via direct market and digital, as people who really want the product may not hold out for a physical copy but buy the digital one instead, from the digital competitors of direct market retailers.

        – Then again you might get a “pass” because you’re a struggling indie creator. It seems to me like there would be no reason for them to be forgiving about it if you were a major publisher. Then again, it’s complicated.

        You’re probably more familiar with the direct market than I am Tyler, but… its my understanding that whether a book makes it or not is, initially, largely a matter of how many units are initially ordered by retailers before the customer even can see it.

        So, the initial question is will retailers support a book that their digital competitors got a first crack at?

        Am I correct in my understanding that you intend to do direct market floppies before doing direct market trades? Have you considered if this will cause issues with Diamond’s minimum order policy? My understanding is if a book doesn’t gross a certain amount, Diamond drops your book (though I haven’t studied the issue lately).

        A more expensive, bigger book (like Takio) that sells 1000 units for 10 dollars a pop is more likely to not be canceled than a book which sells 1000 units for three bucks a pop… however, maybe you expect that the cheaper book will be ordered in more units?

        I haven’t done the research enough to provide answers…. I can only raise questions. Again, my information may be way out of date, and I can’t vouch for factual accuracy, but have you read this article or one like it:

        http://comicsworthreading.com/2009/01/16/diamond-raises-order-minimums/

        Are there other creators who have gone digital- pay first (as opposed to freemium) and have later sold floppies or trades in the direct market? In other words, will you be a trailblazer, or has this distribution model been tested?

  5. Tyler James says:

    Scott, you do raise some good points, and I can’t say I have all of the answers. However, a few things:

    – Digital is here, but it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to print sales for the comics market.

    – Indy/small press can’t be looked at the same way as the Big Two. It’s very conceivable that when the Big Two focus on digital initiatives, they are taking money out of retailer’s pockets. I’m not however, since I currently don’t put any money into their pockets. So, what I do digitally will largely be ignored by most retailers.

    – There’s evidence to suggest that going digital first doesn’t impact a store’s willingness to carry a book. PVP was serialized in issue format years after appearing online. The Dreamer was collected into trades and released in the direct market by IDW. Axe Cop was just collected and released by Dark Horse. Red 5 had success releasing Box 13 in trade, after first being released digitally (for free) through Comixology. They’re soon to be releasing Moon Girl, which was a paid Comixology download throughout the year.

    So, the release digitally first, then release in trade model HAS been tried, and seems to be successful. In fact, talking to one retailer interested in carrying Moon Girl from solicitations, he had no idea it was already released digitally. That kind of thing just isn’t on their radar.

    Diamond is a barrier, certainly. Breaking even on floppies, in order to profit on the trade might be the best indies can hope for. But as of right now, the direct market is primarily set up to support a monthly, serial storytelling format. So, to best take advantage of that, floppies MAY be the right move. I’ll find out eventually.

  6. Scott Dubin says:

    Tyler, you’ve made a lot of good points, and I definitely see why you wouldn’t want to wait over a year until you have 3-4 issues in the can before releasing the book, that would be a lot of patience to ask of yourself and your creative team.

    The only thing I’m not getting is why a reader would buy a floppy print copy for a book available as a free webcomic. I can see why they might purchase a trade in print- as its very nice to have a trade on the bookshelf- but I’m not seeing the case for floppies.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Scott Kurtz (at least initially) include original material with the pamphlet books? At any rate, he’s discontinued the process of doing it this way.

    Thanks for the examples of successful digital titles, I’ll have to look at those books in more detail later.

  7. Scott Dubin says:

    Although after I post I now see that the Dreamer was apparently released as a miniseries before being collected into a trade paperback.

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=18754

    I’m still not seeing why a reader would want to own a floppy version of a webcomic, but it seems its possible that they do…

  8. Tyler James says:

    Scott, different versions of the same content are targeted at different types of readers.

    There are some people who will never read a longform webcomic on the web. Just like there are some people who will never buy floppies, but instead wait for the trade.

    And there are some people who shop at comic shops every week and like finding cool new stuff on the racks.

    No matter how much I promote the webcomic version of EPIC, 95% of the the people who go into comic shops (or more) will have never gone to epiccomic.com to read it online.

    Just like 95% of the people who will come across EPIC one Comixology or Graphic.ly will not be familiar with the title. But the idea is, they’ll check it out while browsing and finding it next to other books like it.

    Also, people like to support the books and creators they like. The webcomics model builds a ton of good will. With OVER, folks who enjoyed the year and half of 3xs a weekl updates were happy to buy a copy of the book, not because they haven’t read the story before, but because they have and they enjoyed it, and they wanted a memento on their bookshelves to commemorate the experience.

    Sure, there are some folks who might think, “You know, I think this is okay, but I don’t need to own it. I’ll just go read it online.”

    And for those folks, I say, “Welcome!” Your page views contribute to ad revenue, and your attention makes it possible for me to develop another fan.

  9. Franklin Torgo says:

    Digital distribution has an established network. It is however for the most part “pirating comics”. However the viewers and the ability to reach thousands if not millions of readers is there.

    The fact is you never get a cent for your comic that way. However this is not a bad thing. In fact look at marvel and dc. Do they make nickle one on any their comics? For the most part no. They make their bread and butter on advertisement and promotion of their established characters into various products. So much like the wise sage in Spaceballs, Yogurt; The real money is in merchandizing. If people want to buy your comic they’ll have the web address that goes to your web address (via the scan of the .cbr) and direct sell your comic and various other related material (hard copies of the comic, t-shirts, pins, whatever else).

  10. Disagree with FACT: Digital distribution is still a long way from being able to generate substantial, consistent revenue for the independent creator.

    Disagree with FACT: Webcomics are a long-term play. Like, decades long.

    Disagree with making money through, t-shirts, pins, whatever else. Though all these are possible to do, of course.

    I agree to your suggested plan to go digital immediately but hold off on Diamond Distribution for the time being…

    I think we may also have differing opinions on the definition of what the Direct Market is. I would define it as anyone you can get to buy your comic.

    I would propose that the core revenue streams for indy creators POD comic sales at cons will never work longterm and that utilizing marketing resources and launch formula tactics through one’s own website will be plenty much to drive an audience to your book for the rest of time.

    I will also agree that you want retailers, or people, selling your book for you.

    • Tyler James says:

      Daniel,

      Thanks for coming on over and sharing your comments. Always open to other viewpoints, and good debate.

      Show me some proof to support your arguments, though.

      – Regarding digital distribution…What are you disagreeing with? The time frame? Or are you arguing that there are independent comic creators out there making significant revenues from digital distribution? If that’s the case, show me one creator making a living wage on digital distribution alone. Just one.

      – Regarding webcomics…Are you arguing that webcomics are NOT a long term play? What do you have to back that up? Sure there are a few outliers (Axe Cop, for example) but those are the .1%, not the rule.

      – The Direct Market I’m referring to is Local Comic Shops. “Anyone you can get to buy your comic” as a definition is way too loosey-goosey, and unmeasurable.

      Can you elaborate on “marketing resources” and “launch formula tactics?” They sound very buzz-wordy…we want some meat!

  11. Tyler,

    Thanks for asking the real probing questions. Let’s answer the last questions first.

    Didn’t mean to sound buzz wordy. Let’s just use the word marketing. If creators will put their attention into marketing their websites and creations. They will be better off than actually creating their product. As you have suggested they do.

    I don’t feel that “anyone who will buy your comic” is loosy-goosy, but I see where you would feel that way. I am not suggesting that you market to anyone, but those whom you have bought your product in the past, will buy from you in the future. And that is very measurable.

    Launch formula refers to making a lot of money in a short period of time from your product aka selling a million iphones in 3 days. etc.

    With webcomics I am saying they Can be a LONG-TERM play AND they CAN be a SHORT-TERM play using similar strategies.

    As far as examples of digital distribution in comics regarding these methods, you are right,Tyler. There is not one, because I think it is not readily known how to do it properly. However, from your dedication and persistence that you have done to make a name for yourself, would you consider yourself the norm or the .1%? So to think it would not be possible would be a hinderance.

    Every industry needs leaders, game changers, and we are on the precipice for making those bold changes happen. You are never successful, and everyone calls you a fool until you make the impossible suddenly become possible. Then they regard you as genius.

    That hopefully will be some meat to entice. I put together 2 hours of video on the subject if someone wants to find out more…http:bit.ly/INDEPENDENTS-DAY

    I’d be happy to answer any more questions.

  12. Tyler James says:

    Dan, you won’t get any argument from me that the entire comic industry could be doing a better job marketing itself. I’m always open to new ideas when it comes to getting the word out about my work. So I’ll check out what you have to say. Hope I don’t need to watch 2 full hours to get to the good stuff though! : )

  13. Peace,

    You know Tyler, I have some marketing plans for comics that originate from dealing in different arenas well before coming to comics, film being one of them. If your interested in some..let me know…

  14. Chad Kuffert says:

    Hello Tyler,

    Some time has passed since you wrote this article, and I am curious if you will be willing to write an update column to share your experiences in implementing this distribution plan; addressing what worked, what didn’t, and how you may, or may not have pivoted the strategy to maximize RIO.

    Chad

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