Sara Lacy over on Pando Daily has an interesting viewpoint from an unnamed anonymous person in the publishing industry that she has posted over on the Pando Daily. Add to that an interesting interview with CBC and Seth Godin over at Business Insider and you get a really depressing feeling for what is coming about next. With the changes that are happening moving from physical to digital, Seth is right, there are enough tools out there right now to cut your own path bypassing the traditional publisher, distributor, retail process. We don’t need the big publishing houses if we have a large enough following to go buy our stuff, we can give out free copies on Graphicly or Comixology as much as we want to, all in an effort to sell more copies. We can be on social media, interacting with our readers with a sense of immediacy that the traditional route seems to not get.
There is one statement though that really captures my attention, and it is about the collectors market. Much like books during the dark ages, only the collectors, the rich, and the important had books. Each book was carefully hand crafted by monks in a cell somewhere and each one was a work of art in it’s own right. My own sales show the slide from common mass produced comic books to better sales with the limited editions, with anything with a guaranteed print run of less than 500 we can all charge wonderful prices and sell only to collectors. We are bypassing the 99% of comic book readers now with digital, and catering to the 1% with money, time, and the ability to afford the luxury of a 20 dollar comic book that one can sell, barter, or otherwise do neat things with.
Digital is not the big rip off that people have been mumbling in the hallways, but Digital does mean the change from cheap mass produced physical copies to cheaper mass downloaded digital copies. We have seen and are experiencing an interesting and important change in the comic book market, indeed in all the print markets you can think of. Print is dead, long live print.
Brian Hibbs over at Tilting at Windmills brings this point to the forefront for comic books and the ways that independents can go about doing their own thing.
From the advent of the Direct Market, “independent” success stories (like “Elfquest” and “Cerebus”) were key to the tenor of the market. We’ve helped create giant brands that have gone on to be extremely successful for their original creators (could “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle”s have possibly have started natively in any medium other than comics? I do not think so) — and the math seems to suggest that just the success of “Walking Dead” alone almost managed to sell as many backlist books as all of Marvel comics combined in December. That money goes to Kirkman (and his collaborators, we can assume), and I really don’t think it could have worked the same way, independently, in any other creative field. Source: CBR – Tilting at Windmills Brian Hibbs.
Comixology and Graphicly are a resource, but then so are sites like mine, Comics Forge as a gateway to reviewing independent comics and helping get your word out. We are constantly contacted by artists, and we write awesome reviews of what you are doing. If you look at our top 10 stories, one of our huge success stories with covering independent comics were Madeleine Flores from SPX and “An interview with Samantha Leriche-Gionet (Boum)”. Both of these young women are amazingly talented and very cool comic book people. Both drew big page views for us on the order of 100’s of page views in a short period of time, with a long tail that is perking along nicely.
What Madeline and Samatha did though was help us help them, they pointed the link to twitter, they posted it on their Facebook and G+ pages. They evangelized it to their own readers to find out more about them. I keep on going to comic book author sites with no Facebook links, no twitter, no G+, meaning I have to take the long way around to helping spread the message. We have done almost 20 interviews in the last year, many of the authors did not help us spread the word, no sharing, meaning a lost audience.
Digital is changing things, self-publishing is a good way of getting things going, if it was not for self-publishing I probably would never have learned about Erika Moen who is one of my most favorite comic book independent authors. She is directly involved with twitter, Facebook and G+, she gets it she is social. There is this huge base of resources for comics out there, from independent review sites, Comics Should be Good, Bleeding Cool, us, Goblin Comics that using these resources is a good use of your time. Keeping social with current updated information about what you are doing with Facebook, G+, Twitter and others. On this one Brian Hibbs is hitting on all the numbers, Comixology and Graphicly are hitting on all the numbers. There is this amazing ability out there for you to bypass the traditional route, and get higher prices for the physical comic books you are printing.
Print isn’t dead; if anything it will go limited editions with very high prices. Your route to the market is digital, your web site, and your ability to be social. If anything the traditional safety net has been expanded to include this amazing infrastructure of sites, people, and delivery mechanisms that our ancestors twenty years ago couldn’t even dream of having. It is time to start using them wisely, and to start planning on a market where we are creating a common mass digital market at 99 cents each, and catering to collectors with the 15-20 dollar comic books. Drop us a note if you want to talk about it, because we are on the verge of this very interesting world, and 20 years from now our kids will be talking about what we did to make this world happen.
- Hibbs Again (joeymanley.com)
- 2011 Comic Book Market by the Numbers (comicsforge.com)
- Graphicly comes to the Amazon Fire (comicsforge.com)
- Comic Books: Digital Style (girlsgonegeeky.wordpress.com)
- The Day The Comic Book Died (learntoduck.com)
- On DC’s “New 52″ and Comic Book Retailer Brian Hibbs’ Enthusiasm for Same (joeymanley.com)