The webcomics blog about webcomics

Not Even Slightly Plussed

By now you really don’t need me to tell you about Ryan North’s Hamlet-themed Kickstarter, and to reflect that fact I’m not even going to mention the dollar figure presently attached to the campaign. I’m only mentioning it because today’s update featured an illustration by KC Green that included the most casually awesome, entirely nonplussed high-five in history, that’s all. I literally cannot look that that illustration without smiling.

  • Speaking of Kickstarts, a new — and very ambitious– one opened today, as the Blind Ferret Fun-Making Concern have launched a campaign with a goal of US$78,000 to put together a documentary series focusing on what conventions are like for your favorite band of misfit Canadians. The filming part is done (you couldn’t squeeze past the BF booth in San Diego without ducking past a very attentive camera crew, which makes me wonder how Sohmer managed bathroom breaks).

    It’s got an interesting rewards structure, too — only five tiers, with pricepoints of US$15, $35, $45, $55, and $2500 (no typo), making the “Executive Producer” reward officially the most pie-in-the-sky Kickstarter offering¹ I’ve ever seen. With just a 30 day turnaround and a high target, BF will need some sustained support to meet goal.

  • As promised, Jim Zub is back with a second blogposting on the economics of indy-comic publishing, this time on digital distribution. The one thing I learned almost immediately is that there really isn’t a justification for the commonly-held assumption (and I’ve held it myself²) that a three dollar comic should be much cheaper in digital form because you don’t have to pay the printer!

    Let’s work off a common enough digital price point of 99 cents; take a moment to go back to Zub’s earlier essay on indy comics and look at the pie chart. Does the wedge marked “printer” take up 2/3s of the pie? No? Then you can’t drop the price of a comic from three bucks to 99 cents and keep the same amount of money in your pocket. The slices marked “distributor” and “retailer” which made up about 65% in the print chart are replaced by “ComiXology” and “Apple/Google”, and they make up … about 65% of the digital chart.

    The printer bill does offer a savings of 20-25%, but that means a three dollar comic can come down to maybe $2.25; the 99 cent price point doesn’t work unless you sell three times more copies than at the three dollar mark. Hopefully, Zub will let us in on how both of these channels relate to/drive customers towards trade sales.

  • In a similar vein about the economics and realities of being an independent creator, a pair of filmmakers talk about self-distribution when you’re not Louis CK with respect to their documentary, Indie Game: The Movie. The parts that stuck out for me are near the end of the article, making three points that successful webcomickers have made time and time again:

    “You have to find your audience and you have to engage them,” Pajot says. “You can’t let them find you.”

    The second major point, Swirsky adds, focuses on a work ethic beyond imagination.
    “There’s no way around it, you have to put in the time and put in the effort. You’re literally building your audience one member at a time and that can lead to something quite powerful.”

    Finally … “No one will work for your film as hard as you work for your film…. It can definitely be augmented through other people but no one will work as hard as you’re going to work.”

    Those looking for the magic bullet/secret formula/hidden handshake that guarantees creative and financial success, there it is. Find your audience, work harder than ever before, and realize that nobody cares about your success more than you, so you have to make it happen.

¹ In terms of cost and rewards differential from the next-lowest tier.

² Although I do think there’s an argument to be made for first issues in series being very cheap (even free), and for out-of-print collections that are otherwise unobtainable to priced under their original cover prices.

Screw it, hold onto that assumption in Footnote No. 2.
Getting the price-point right isn’t a linear ratio. Dropping a $3 comic down to a $1 comic should be closer to a 5x to 10x sales multiplier. If sales are only 10% compared to print sales, you’re charging too much for digital.
Comparing my numbers to that of the prose market sales, it should be closer to 33% in sales dollars, not units, and units should be at roughly 3 times that. (And this model is assuming that there’s three products – floppy, trade and digital).

Hey just wanted to thank you again for your site and let you know of a small problem I encountered this morning. When using your link to sinfest I was rerouted to a porn site. I don’t know if this is contamination on your link for the [redacted; see this post for more information — Ed.] comic site but wanted to let you know so other users not exposed. Best of luck and keep up the good work on your reviews.

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