Tag Archives: taptastic

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.

We Talk with Min Kim about the Digital Comics Coalition and the future of Digital Comics

digital comics coalitionSeemingly launched out of nowhere in mid-February, the Digital Comics Coalition is the brainchild of Min Kim, the founder of Taptastic. Other members include Mark Waid (Thrillbent), Josh Wilkie (Madefire), Felix Kiner (ComicsFix) and Doug Lefler (Scrollon). The group of comics creators, programmers, businessmen and filmmakers joins together regularly to share ideas on the innovations happening today in digital publishing. But, other than their panel at Meltdown Comics, not much is known about the organization, its purpose, direction etc.

We got a chance to talk to Min Kim about the DCC, and find out more about many of the questions we’ve been waiting to find out the answers to.

Graphic Policy: How did the Digital Comics Coalition come about?

Min Kim: I’ve been living and working in San Francisco Bay Area for about 10 years witnessing all sort of technology innovations in the media and entertainment space. We now stream endless music to our phones. We video-chat with family and friends from anywhere in the world. We consume so much content on mobile including news and books. So, when I walked into San Diego Comic-Con in 2014, I was shocked by how technology, particularly digital comics, was heavily underrepresented. I met Doug Lefler (Scrollon) and Josh Wilkie (Madefire) at the convention and we all just naturally connected because we shared the same frustration. We continued to talk after the convention, and then more of our friends, Mark Waid (Thrillbent) and Felix Kiner (Comicsfix), joined in on the conversation.

GP: What are the goals of the organization?

MK: The coalition is still very new. We’re still in the process of finalizing our manifesto and bylaws. However, the general purpose is to facilitate comic industry’s transition from print to digital. We know that there are other important matters to keep in mind such as content diversity, racial diversity, and gender equality. Mark, Doug, and Josh are all creators themselves. Indie comic creators are an important part of all our companies and the industry. So, we want to make sure that everything we do prioritizes comic creators. Sorry that I cannot provide bullet point answers at this time.

GP: Is the organization going to be formalized as a non-profit or a trade organization?

MK: It’s currently an agreement between the members. We are discussing how we want this group to evolve. If we feel that the group needs to officially register in the future, we will do so.

GP: Are there current coalitions or organizations that the coalition is looking towards as inspiration?

MK: As a group, no specific ones. Personally, I admire organized groups that have been recently fighting for net neutrality. There are also many that are promoting or fighting for advancement of good ideas. Digital comics is a very good idea and very good for the industry and the creators.

GP: There’s a lot of issues facing digital services like broadband expansion, EULA standardization, CISPA, and more. Will the organization get involved in the policy end of things?

MK: We currently do not have plans in place for those issues. Perhaps in the future.

GP: How has the digital landscape shifted since you became involved?

MK: DCC was organized in 2015, and we’ve only done one event at Meltdown, which you can view on Youtube. We’re happy about the turnout and the fact that various organizations like Graphic Policy and creators are contacting us. We’re hoping an accumulation of events will eventually lead to a positive shift in the industry.

GP: One of the major issues I see with digital services is the walled environments, and lack of standardization of formats for the digital goods. Will the coalition work at all together to standardize the digital comic format and make it easier to port comics if a service were to shut down?

MK: This is a tough question because standardization can impede innovation, yet there are also benefits like transferability that you mentioned. Usually free competition determines standards in any industry and the same goes for digital comics. The coalition is a good starting point to discuss how we can work together to minimize bad consumer experience by lowering some of those walls that you mentioned. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that some consumers will feel like losing out when a service shuts down. This reminds me of my HD-DVD that I once purchased that is useless today.

In addition, there is some psychology at play here because the society has hardwired us to think that there’s more value in something physical than digital. For example, consumers associate all the tangible costs such as paper, ink, and delivery into pricing of a book. Although digital books don’t have those tangible costs, there are inherent values such as the ability to instantly download, mobility, and storage that consumer do not think about. Furthermore, purchasing digital comics goes beyond just purchasing a book like we are used to. Digital comics today offer a unique experience that was never available. This unique experience varies based on platforms, but comics today can now support background music, animation, and engagement with other readers. So, we’ve come a long way from purchasing static content. So when something goes away because nothing in life really lasts forever (I’m sure most of your comic books are stashed away in the garage like mine), we should try to stay positive. I hope more people view buying a digital comic as buying a ticket to a movie or a Broadway show.

GP: There’s this founding group for the Digital Comics Coalition, but numerous services that aren’t involved. Will more be joining?

MK: Oh yes, definitely! We already have a few requests and we are in talks. We’ll make an announcement when appropriate.

GP: We’ve already seen one service have a data breach, will the coalition work together to better protect data of the customers?

MK: Security breech happens all the time across all industries. It is very unfortunate that it happened to Comixology, but it’s also a great opportunity for others to learn from such events. So although we did not have a specific discussion around this issue, I can see members of the coalition sharing experiences and resources to protect the consumers.

GP: What do you see as the biggest hurdle for digital comics? What do you see as the biggest advantage for digital comics?

MK: I’ll answer the second question first. I’d say the biggest advantages are accessibility for readers and creative freedom for creators. Accessibility is obvious where anyone with PC or mobile device can instantly read millions of visual stories. In addition, technology has lower the barrier to entry for creators. Anyone can publish and share his or her comics online. Anyone has a chance to display his or talent to the world, so digital has democratized storytelling. As for creative freedom, I think exploring some of the creators’ work on any of our digital comics platforms speaks for itself. In the past, creators were restricted to panels and pages. They had to because economic costs were also factored in – paper quality and ink used for production and printing. Technology has provided more creative freedom. Technology allows unlimited ways for a creators to tell stories. Creators can now add music, transitions, and other animated effects. So many people are doing very cool things out there.

The biggest hurdle? There are so many. Right now, it’s the distribution. How can more people know that these new experiences exist? How can more people learn that digital comics is not just pages scanned for digital viewing? So many people still think of superheroes when they think of comics. No, there is so much that digital comics offers beyond that.

Updated: Digital Comics Coalition 404s on Launch

digital comics coalitionMin Kim of Tapastic, Mark Waid of Thrillbent, Josh Wilkie of Madefire, Felix Kiner of ComicsFix and Doug Lefler of Scrollon. Together they’re some of the folks behind the digital comics landscape. Together, they have launched the Digital Comics Coalition, and interesting new group that we’ll know more about next Friday at an event being held at Meltdown Comics.

The email release announcing that event had little on details as to what this coalition will actually be doing other than this quote from Mark Waid:

Traditional print publishers have build their businesses on competition and closed doors. The Coalition is instead eager to conduct transparent, honest discussions between some of digital’s biggest, most dedicated creators and publishers. We not only plan to work together to promote this new medium, we also encourage others who feel that passion to freely join our conversation and be heard.

But, being a comic fan, being a tech geek, and having worked with and formed coalitions, I wanted to learn more. Following the email releases’ instructions, I emailed the address provided…. and it bounced. It didn’t exist. Well, ok email is tough to do at times, so I decided to head to their website to find out more. Using the domain listed with the contact email provided, I went to their website and found the below captured in video. The site was a shell, a beautiful shell. Instead of finding out about goals, and how to get involved, I found Lorem Ipsum, and image placeholders.

A rather weird way to announce a coalition, and death before starting in the political/non-profit world. If you’re going to be taken seriously as a “Digital Comics Coalition,” you need to have your email addresses working, and a website up and running with the basics when you first step in the spotlight.

According to the release, the group is a diverse group of comics creators, programmers, businessmen and filmmakers joins together regularly to share ideas on the innovations happening today in digital publishing. The event promoted is the first time their frank discussions will be open to an outside audience. “Each company has its own unique business model, but all share a passion for combining art and technology in new ways that can benefit the comic reading community.”

Technology and comics is still in the infant stages, and a coalition is more than needed. This one will have to answer some tough questions when they get going, and hopefully some of those will be answered when they officially launch.

Update: A little after two hours of our posting, about 10 hours after the announcement, the website was updated to include the bios of its members, a repeat of the quote from the release, and an email sign up form. You can check out the Tweet to us from founder Min Kim:

Of course I signed up, and turns out, the email list is run by Comicsfix. There’s possible legal questions that might arise of sharing that email system if the coalition is a nonprofit or trade organization, but with it unknown as to their legal status…

Screenshot_2015-02-20-04-18-36

Digital Comics Coalition Launches

The Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics will host Off The Page: Creating and Marketing Digital Comics,” a roundtable discussion and demonstration of today’s cutting-edge digital comics Friday, February 27th  at 3:00 p.m.  Award-winning comics author Mark Waid of Thrillbent.com will join other innovators from ComicsFix, Madefire, Scrollon, and Tapastic to announce the world’s first Digital Comics Coalition and to demonstrate the secrets behind some of today’s most forward-thinking digital comics and graphic novels. The presentation will be moderated by Meltdown’s own Gaston Dominguez, livecast on Twitch, and recorded for later viewing online via YouTube and other platforms.

The Digital Comics Coalition is the brainchild of Min Kim (Tapastic). Members include Mark Waid (Thrillbent), Josh Wilkie (Madefire), Felix Kiner (ComicsFix) and Doug Lefler (Scrollon). This diverse group of comics creators, programmers, businessmen and filmmakers joins together regularly to share ideas on the innovations happening today in digital publishing. This is the first time their frank discussions will be open to an outside audience. Each company has its own unique business model, but all share a passion for combining art and technology in new ways that can benefit the comic reading community.

In the release, Waid said:

Traditional print publishers have build their businesses on competition and closed doors. The Coalition is instead eager to conduct transparent, honest discussions between some of digital’s biggest, most dedicated creators and publishers. We not only plan to work together to promote this new medium, we also encourage others who feel that passion to freely join our conversation and be heard.

The Nerdist Showroom is located at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Tickets for the event are available online.

digital_comics_coalition

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