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Creators Corner: Creating Rebirth of the Gangster, Part 9– Self-Publishing and Distribution

Over the summer, I wrote a few parts in a series detailing the creation of my comic Rebirth of the Gangster (on sale now!)

In case you missed it, check out these links to the first three parts-

Part 1: The Birth of the Idea

Part 2: Brainstorming and Outlining the Plot

Part 3: Outline, Synopsis and Chapter Breakdown

Part 4: Scripting the Action

Part 5: Finding the Right Artist

Part 6: Pages in Progress and the Artist/Writer Collaboration

Part 7: Submitting the Comic and Cover Letters

Part 8: Filtering through Publisher Feedback

And now, for Part 9: The final installment in my series about creating and publishing Rebirth of the Gangster!

After being rejected by all the publishers I sent my comic too (it wasn’t completely worthless, though, since I received some good advice, as I covered in Part 8), I decided to self-publish Rebirth of the Gangster.  Self-publishing does come with a taboo, of course, but the revenue and respect given to self-publishers has been growing in recent years (The Martian was a self-published book at first, for one example of self-publishing being worth money and industry cred).

the martian

While much of self-publishing deals with the details of print and distribution, I decided to release individual issues digitally and distribute graphic novel collections of each six-issue story arc.  After I made that choice, the next step for any self publisher is to figure out how to get your comic in the hands and hearts of fans. While I would like to get printed copies to fans, frankly Diamond Distributor isn’t very friendly to independent comics–they will only guarantee payments if enough copies have been sold to stores in their ordering phase.  And I wasn’t–and still am not–in a financial position to take on that kind of risk. So, I started exploring the largely uncharted waters of digital sales.

I did some research–looking online and then sending questions to companies to get some answers about their reach, their payout structure, their editorial requirements and more.  Not only did this help me understand my options better, I was able to distill these findings into a Slant article for others: giving them a map and compass to navigate digital terrain.   That article is no longer available, since Slant went under and the domain was lost, but here’s what I wrote:

In recent years, the comic industry has been adapting to new demand for digital versions of their comics (although print is still a viable option), which has led to companies creating numerous platforms with some key differences in pricing for customer, payout to creators, editing and submission process, philosophy, and degree of involvement.  

Platforms like Selz, Pulp Free Publishing, Gumroad, and Sellfy all responded to interview requests; other platforms of note (Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Comixology, Scribd, and Tapastic) didn’t respond to interview requests but were researched for the following information.  A huge thanks to Zeno Telos Press and Publishers Weekly for some of the research that supplements the interviews.

 

The Basics for Each Site

Platform Customer Cost Creator Payout and Platform Cut of Profits Editing and Submitting Process
Comixology Varies by comic–there is a section titled “Free Comics” though 50% (after credit card fees and cost from Apple, Google, Kindle) Can submit once an account has been created with company information and payment information. Get started here.
Amazon Kindle Varies by comic, but you can also join Kindle Unlimited, their Netflix-esque program.  It costs $9.99 a month and gives access to as many books as the customer wants. If the sale price  is less than $2.99, the creator gets 35%
If the sale price is greater than $2.99 and less than $9.99, the creator gets 70%*
If the sale price is more than this, the creator gets 35%
Submission information here.
Barnes and Noble Nook Varies by comic Barnes and Noble didn’t have this easily available, but a source says that as of Oct-2013, this is the payout structure:

Prices from $ 0.99 to $ 2.98 = 40%

Prices from $ 2.99 to $ 9.99 = 65%

Prices from $ 10.00 to $ 199.99 = 40%

Submit here.
iBookstore Varies by comic. 70% They didn’t list any specific requirements, but they posted this set of steps here.
Pulp Free Publishing Kevin Bricklin, founder of Pulp Free Publishing states:

“After Apple’s 30% fee, we share 70/30 with creators.  70% for the Creator and 30% for PFP (that equates to 49% of the sales price to the creator)”
There is a Premium Package–a one-time payment of $99 lets creators keep 100% of sales.

Although they don’t have editorial requirements, they do say they have the standard “ page specifications (which are required so that the comics can look good on retina devices)”, according to Bricklin.
Comics Fix
(website is offline while they relaunch their service)
8.99 a month, Netflix style–this was their pricing plan before they took their site down to reboot and relaunch it 50%

This was also what was listed before.

No information available.
Selz Varies by comic Melissa Whidjay, Selz community manager says, “All we keep is a small transaction fee on each sale, which is usually under 5% of your sale price. You get to keep the rest!” They don’t have editing requirements, but Whidjay did give this advice for file format:

It’s totally up to you! We let you sell pretty much all file types, but your best bet is to publish in PDF as it’s the most widely accepted file type for reading comics. “

Sellfy Varies by comic 95% No editing process–they’re only interested in running “ a third party [that]  manage[s] the sales and download link delivery”, according to customer service manager Matthew.
Gumroad Varies by comic 95%. The only requirement Sahil Lavingia, founder and CEO of Gumroad, gave was “the standard NSFW stuff (though since we’re not a marketplace, we can sway more freely).”

Details on how to submit here.

Scribd Netlix style subscription for unlimited comics, books, audiobooks and sheet music: $8.99 a month; there are individual texts for sale too, with varying prices There are a few different creator payout guidelines:
For an individual sale: 80% after $0.25 processing fee.
There are a few different payout options for subscription readers, depending on publishing service used by creator:
Smashwords:If books are read past the 30% mark: 60% of sales. 10 reads between 15-30% will also count as an individual sale.
Draft2Digital:

If books are read past the 30% mark: 60% of sales.

BookBaby:

55% of sales
INscribe Digital:

This is another option but the royalty structure wasn’t outlined.

Submission information here (broken down by categories like publishers, self-publishers, etc…).
Tapastic Some are free, but some have varying costs Monthly Support: 85%

Ad Revenue: 70%

Storefront: 50%

Submission information here.

 

More Detailed Descriptions of Each Site

Comixology You Tube Channel

While Comixology didn’t respond to interview requests, there is some further information available about their platform. Comixology was acquired by Amazon in April of 2014.

Most people buy individual titles and issues, but Comixology does have a subscription option, although there isn’t any discount for subscribing to an issue.  They currently have thousands of titles available (7500 individual issues, 700 of which are free) and thousands of individual submit titles available (creator-owned and self published titles, not ones published by big companies like Marvel and DC).

John D. Roberts, cofounder of ComiXology and director of Submit, describes their submit program this way: “Submit has the broadest range of comics and graphic novels possible, and that’s what customers really enjoy about it.  From superhero to queer comics, slice-of-life graphic novels, all-ages manga, and beyond, the readership of Submit titles is as varied as the books submitted.”

If you’re a creator looking to submit your comic to Comixology, it has to meet their quality standards (not outlined on their website).  They say the process should take 3 months minimum, but it can sometimes be longer (6 months or longer) depending on whether the creator meets Comixology’s specifications right away, needs to make changes, or other issues.

The big specifications problem, according to Roberts, is creators producing poor digital quality when converting their files to PDF.  He says that these PDF files often “suffer from artifacting and pixilation, primarily due to excessive compression. Some of the more popular PDF tools have compression defaults that are hard to find and change, and thus we get a ton of files that we can’t use”.  He also reminds creators that they’ll be competing–on Comixology and in general–with big companies that have strong formatting for their digital content.

 

Kindle You Tube Channel

Amazon Kindle also did not respond to interview requests.  

Similar to Comixology, Amazon has content requirements, mainly formatting, that a comic needs to reach to be accepted.

Creators make less for individual issues on Amazon than they do on Comixology, so some people suggest releasing individual issues elsewhere, and then submitting graphic novels to Amazon.  They do admit that submitting individual issues to Amazon is good exposure and increases marketability.

 

Nook You Tube Channel

Barnes and Noble also did not return requests for an interview.  The most current information available is already described above.

 

iBooks Video

iBooks also did not return requests for an interview.

When submitting to iBooks consider this following information about file format, given in the Q and A here: You can submit your work for publication in the iBooks Store as an .ibooks file, where you can sell it or offer it as a free download. You can also export your book from iBooks Author as a PDF, text file, or .ibooks file which you can distribute outside the iBooks Store or through iTunes U.

 

Pulp Free Publishing You Tube Video

 

Tapastic You Tube Video

 

Sellfy Vimeo Video

 

About Scribd Video–interview with CEO and CTO

 

Intro to Gumroad on Vimeo

 

Video Tutorials for Selz

 

 

That’s it!  After 9 detailed parts, my behind-the-scenes look at the making of Rebirth of the Gangster is over!

I hope you enjoyed them all (and if you missed any, click on the links at the beginning of this article): for future news and behind-the-scenes looks, check my website out: cjstandalproductions.com.

Celebrate Thor: Ragnarok with Three FREE Thor Graphic Novels

Thor: Ragnarok opens in North America today and Amazon is celebrating Thorsday with three free graphic novels featuring Thor from Marvel. No strings at all.

Today, November 2 only, get these three classic Thor adventures FREE on Kindle.

Thor by J. Michael Straczynski Vol. 1 is written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Olivier Coipel and collects Thor (2007) #1-6. Returned to the pantheon of great Marvel heroes, the Asgardian God of Thunder is reunited with the mortal form of Dr. Don Blake. Together, they must reckon with the legacy of the mythic Norse kingdom and the awakening of its immortal heroes – but in a world that may not want them back!

Thor: God of Thunder Vol. 1 is written by Jason Aaron with art by Esad Ribic collects Thor: God of Thunder #1-5. In the distant past, Thor follows the bloody wake of murdered gods. In the present, the Thunder God discovers a forgotten cave that echoes with the cries of tortured gods! And thousands of years from now, the last god-king of a ruined Asgard makes his final stand against the God Butcher’s beserker legions. As three Thors from three eras race to stop the God Butcher, the full extent of his vicious scheme takes terrifying shape!

Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson Vol. 3 collects Walt Simonson‘s work from Thor #360-369. It was a time of magic… Few people have ever left their mark on one character quite the way Walter Simonson has. His work on the Mighty Thor swept the Norse God of Thunder to heights never before seen and rarely achieved in his wake. Spanning epic tales of heroism and treachery, love and war, Simonson’s work is often considered the definitive Thor. From the majesty and mystery of fabled Asgard to the gritty streets of New York City, Thor was never the same.

Amazon is Offering 70 Digital Marvel Graphic Novels for FREE with Purchase

Amazon is currently running a promotion where you can get one of 70 “best-selling” Marvel graphic novels for free on Kindle with the purchase of a hardcover or paperback graphic novel. Those who partake will get a free credit automatically applied when to “click to buy eBook.”

The offer expires October 21, 2017 and is limited to one per customer account.

This is the second recent promotion Amazon has run regarding digital copies of Marvel graphic novels and trade. I twas not too long ago the company blew out digital copies with 70 to 80% off regular price bringing some down to just a few dollars (if that).

Guided View Comes to Kindle

Amazon today announced the Kindle debut of comiXology’s Guided View experience, now available on the Kindle app for iOS, Fire tablets and Android. With this update, Kindle readers can cinematically read from panel-to-panel at their own pace. Each Guided View experience is handcrafted by a comic lover to make sure fans can become immersed in reading their favorite comic books, even on the smallest screen. Guided View is delivered as part of a free, over-the-air update on the Kindle app for iOS, Fire tablets and Android.

This is something I predicted way back in 2014 as one of the things likely to happen when Amazon purchased comiXology (integration with Amazon log in was another that has come true).

With Guided View, Kindle comic book fans will be able to lose themselves in over 85,000 digital comics and graphic novels like never before, making reading comics more immersive and enjoyable on any size device.

Around the Tubes

kiss01-cov-h-photoIt’s new comic book day! What has everyone excited this week? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below!

While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Remezcla – How 3 Latina Comic Book Artists Carved Out a Space in a Male-Dominated Industry – A great read about 3 kick-ass creators.

Kotaku – Hasbro is starting its own fan convention next year. – We knew it was coming!

GeekWire – Kindle courts manga and graphic novel enthusiasts with upgrades – Very interesting. How will this impact comiXology and vice versa?

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

The Beat – Deadpool Annual #1

Newsarama – Kiss #1

Newsarama – Slapstick #1

Cartoon Books Renews with ComiXology, Expands to Amazon’s Kindle Store

Bone Out From BonevilleCartoon Books, comiXology and Amazon have announced an expanded and renewed distribution agreement to sell Cartoon Books’ digital comics and collections, including the award-winning Bone, on the comiXology platform and expand the distribution of Cartoon Books’ library to Amazon’s Kindle Store. Cartoon Books publishes Jeff Smith‘s New York Times bestselling and fan-favorite titles Bone, Rasl and more. Cartoon Books catalog is available today on comiXology and will be available on Amazon’s Kindle Store in the near future.

This is the latest in a string of announcements by comiXology that renews distribution through the digital comics platform and also expands it to Kindle.

Zenescope Renews with comiXology and Expands to Kindle

ZenescopeZenescope Entertainment, comiXology and Amazon announced today an expanded and renewed distribution agreement to sell Zenescope’s digital comics and collections across the comiXology platform and expand the distribution of Zenescope’s library to Amazon’s Kindle Store.

Today’s announcement sees the digital debut of Zenescope Entertainment’s entire catalog in the Kindle Store, including such hits as Return to Wonderland, Escape from Monster Island, and Grimm Tales of Terror.

This is the latest of such deals and announcements this year which have included Aspen Comics, Heavy Metal, Dover, and Aftershock Comics,

Star Wars Force Friday Sale on comiXology and Kindle

star wars the force awakensTo celebrate Force Friday, comiXology, Amazon’s Kindle Store and Marvel Comics are teaming up to offer some great deals on some fantastic Star Wars graphic novels.

From 9/4 to 9/6, go here to get great deals on comiXology:

For only $2.99:
STAR WARS A NEW HOPE VOL. 1
STAR WARS RETURN OF THE JEDI VOL. 1
STAR WARS THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK VOL. 1

For only $4.99:
CLASSIC STAR WARS VOL. 1
STAR WARS AGENT OF EMPIRE VOL. 1
STAR WARS LEGACY II VOL. 1
STAR WARS LEGACY VOL. 1
STAR WARS OMNIBUS A LONG TIME AGO… VOL. 1
STAR WARS OMNIBUS KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC VOL. 1
STAR WARS OMNIBUS: X-WING ROUGE SQUADRON VOL. 1
STAR WARS TALES VOL. 1
STAR WARS VOL. 1: IN THE SHADOW OF YAVIN

Kindle Unlimited includes Comics and Graphic Novels. Can comiXology Unlimited be far behind?

2014-07-18_0941It’s been rumored for a few days now, but Amazon today introduced Kindle Unlimited, a new subscription service that gives customers access to over 600,000 Kindle Books, and and some of Amazon’s thousands of Audible audiobooks for $9.99 a month.

But, buried in the massive offering from Amazon are is a section dubbed “Comics & Graphic Novels” featuring currently 3,690 books.

When you dig deeper into the offering, things get a bit stranger. The biggest publisher I’ve found so far is IDW Publishing, but their offerings are limited. There’s also a lot of manga, but within that count too is a lot of “how too” books as well as books on the industry, so it’s not all comics and graphic novels in the traditional sense. What does seem present is a lot of independent books, some I recognize as having been sent to our site to review, or from Kickstarter.

The big question though, is how comiXology fits into the bigger plans. Earlier this year Amazon purchased the digital comics distributor, and other than how you can purchase your books (in the app vs through the web), the changes have been minimal. Rumors of comiXology providing an all you can read service have persisted, and it’s a question that’s come up at every panel I’ve ever attended of theirs. With this move by Amazon, maybe we’re seeing the first steps towards that.

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