Tag Archives: scribd

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

PlatformCustomer CostCreator Payout and Platform Cut of ProfitsEditing and Submitting Process
ComixologyVaries by comic–there is a section titled “Free Comics” though50% (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 KindleVaries 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 NookVaries by comicBarnes 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.
iBookstoreVaries by comic.70%They didn’t list any specific requirements, but they posted this set of steps here.
Pulp Free PublishingKevin 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 it50%

This was also what was listed before.

No information available.
SelzVaries by comicMelissa 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. “

SellfyVaries by comic95%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.
GumroadVaries by comic95%.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.

ScribdNetlix style subscription for unlimited comics, books, audiobooks and sheet music: $8.99 a month; there are individual texts for sale too, with varying pricesThere 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.

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


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…).
TapasticSome are free, but some have varying costsMonthly 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.

Around the Tubes

inhumans_vs__x_men__2-5It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d you get? What’d you enjoy? Sound off in the comments below!

While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

CBR – Fox’s X-Men Drama Reportedly Nearing Pilot Order – If Legion does well, expect this to happen quickly.

ICv2 – Funko Prepping for Possible IPO or Sale – Interesting…

Publishers Weekly – Scribd Ends Comics Subscription ServiceWe called it two years ago.

The Beat – Retailing update: the danger of pull lists, “Team Comics My Ass” and best seller lists – An interesting read.


Around the Tubes Reviews

The Beat – Guardians of the Galaxy #16

Newsarama – Inhumans vs. X-Men #2

Scribd’s Comics Launch Fizzles

Yesterday, news officially dropped that Scribd was opening up a third vertical in their legal content distribution plan. The company, which up to then had dealt with ebooks and audiobooks, was adding comics to its all you can read plan that costs $8.99 a month. The line-up of publishers to start is impressive and includes Marvel, Dynamite, IDW, Top Cow, Top Shelf, Zenescope, Valiant, Arcana, MediaDo, Kingstone, and Space Goat, and we’re told from sources more is to come. A “Netflix” of comics is nothing new. Marvel Unlimited already offers 1000s of comics in their own service, and Comicsfix is another. I know more are still to come.

scribd_publishersThe launch was covered by many beyond the usual comic blogs, and news hit the biggest of tech blogs out there like TechCrunch, The Verge, Engadget, and more. It was an impressive press launch, of which I only saw flaws and mistakes.

If you go to the Scribd comics website, you’ll see a fancy splash page with rotating images and beautiful graphics. Visually it looks great, but in reality to draw in new readers, the site is flawed, and whomever felt this was the best route to go, probably should be fired.

The website boasts the ability to “start your free month,” but there’s an ability to do even a basic search to see what catalog they have when it comes to comics. You are forced to hand over your credit card to even get a look at what is offered, let alone try the reader. In the age of data breaches, I’m not handing over my credit card to demo something. The launch’s greatest strength, the publishers, are relegated to a below the fold placement, minimizing their impact, and even leaving out some of the launch partners.

scribd_1With the coverage and hits they’d drive (we’ll get to that in a bit), you’d also want to at least capture email addresses for those visiting, and follow up with them later (or re-target bounces in a web advertising campaign). There’s no email capture mechanism. And in 24 hours I haven’t seen an ad for Scribd follow me around. They company handed bags of cash over to get publishers, but doesn’t look like they left much of a budget to actually advertise their product.

The final nail in the coffin is the lack of bump in downloads or grossing ranks. According to App Annie, a leader in measuring app data, Scribd saw a minor bump in the hour the news broke for downloads, and a slight increase during the day and into today. The issue is, this is the same sort of increase we see at other times, on other days. February 2 actually had a more impressive increase in downloads. As a marketer or press staff, I would be looking for a sharp increase, something that’s not present. To me, this launch would be a disappointment. A massive hit, for little gain.

scribd_2The app did reach a high download rank for the last two months of #468, with an average rank of 847 in US Apps. But, the app has done better at other times without press hits. In the United States the app ranked #428 in September. In the “Books” category, the app usually ranks between 4 and 8 with an average ranking of 6.88. Yesterday, it ranked 4, but it’s done that multiple times in the last few weeks. The app in other words, saw average activity. When it comes to the “grossing” stats the app performed almost exactly average, lacking much of a dollar bump, and since I won’t give my credit card to download the app, I can’t see what likely actually attributes to those “grossing”stats, but most likely it’s the trial. Since the first month is free, it’d be a bit before these folks show up, so March 10 will be an interesting date to look at to see how many stayed on.

Scribd does better than the rest of the comic apps out there, with the highest ranking #24 yesterday, the Marvel Comics app, and digital comics juggernaut ComiXology ranking 76. DC Comics ranked #37 for downloads, and #1 for grossing, with Marvel #2. Marvel and DC ranked multiple times lower, but grossed much more money for the companies.

scribd_3Scribd has hosted comics for quite a long time, just not in a legal sense. The company has, and still does, allow for anyone to upload documents and embed them on sites for free, as well as individuals to sell documents. We use the service for our IDW PDF previews. If you search those documents, you do come across hundreds of pirated comics. Some of those are from companies now available as part of their service, and some not yet. Scribd has attempted to combat this, but the service they use is beyond flawed, and it’s clear they haven’t succeeded. The fact lawsuits haven’t been filed is honestly astonishing. Even more so of companies teaming up with a service that, to this day, allows people to steal their comics. But, when money is thrown at you….

From those I’ve talked to that have signed up for the free trial, universally none plan to continue on, and all have said the experience was lackluster. The most telling was a friend who said “it’s clear the comics reading experience was an afterthought.” As well, many pointed mentioned flawed features that Scribd highlighted, like their search function.

Scribd opens up an opportunity for comics to get in front of of the services existing book and audiobook community. But, it’s clear that the service has a long way to go. With the digital wars heating up again, we’ll be returning to our regular rank reporting starting this Monday.

Scribd Gets into the (Legal) Digital Comic Business

scribd1You’ve been able to read illegally pirated comics on Scribd‘s digital reading service for some time. The company has been shifting into a more legitimate business moving into a digital book service among other services like audiobooks. We’ve known for some time that they’ve been shifting into the digital comic service, but the first two of many announcements to come have dropped. If you go to their website they also have offerings from Archie, Dynamite, IDW, Top Cow, Top Shelf, Zenescope, and Valiant.

Marvel has officially announced they are partnering with Scribd to provide an all you can read service for $8.99 a month. This is a limited catalog for Marvel unlike their own digital service Marvel Unlimited. The deal brings about 500 trade paperbacks to read through the service. That $8.99 is part of Scribd’s unlimited subscription service which includes e-books and audiobooks.

IDW Publishing not much after Marvel also sent out an official release announcing their addition to the service and has nailed down their offering to more than 3,500 comics between them and their imprint Top Shelf.

We host our PDF previews on their service and the navigation is generally lacking when it comes to reading, so it’ll be interesting to see what (if any) improvements the company makes to enhance the reading experience. The company has also attempted to clamp down on copyright violations, sending out lots of DMCA take down notices, and in our case, every one being erroneous, a broken enforcement system.

You can still easily find hundreds of pirated comics on their site. It’s interesting to see publishers enter into a deal with a company that has up to this point allowed content to be stolen. Money is a powerful thing (and we’re told from numerous sources Scribd offered a lot of it)….

Update: I should add, the Scribd official release also lists Arcana, MediaDo, Kingstone, and Space Goat as being offered. Good luck finding them on the landing page set up, or seeing what issues are offered for any of them….