How to Make Digital Comics Pt. 3 (Digital Distributors)

So far in Part 1 & 2 we’ve talked about creating file types and setting the proper page size and resolution for your digital comic. This week I want to talk a little bit about digital distributors and how you can go about selling your digital comic as well.

When I first had the inkling to start selling digital comics I knew right away that I’d also want to sell them on my own. When you sell things yourself you make more money. You’d be crazy NOT to do it. And really, it’s not as hard as one might think. But let’s get those distributors out of the way first.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t used a ton of distributors yet but there are other people out there that have provided quick summaries of their experiences with them. Michael Jasper (from In Maps & Legends digital comic) is one. In Part 3 of his digital download book, Formatting Comics for the Kindle and Nook“, he talks about distributors and shares some of his insights. I thoroughly enjoyed the book myself as it helped set me off on this path to begin with so please consider checking it out.

The major distributors for digital comics are:

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Nook (from Barnes & Noble)
  • Comixology
  • Graphic.ly

There are obviously a ton of other choices but those are the major players right now.

Some of the other players in no particular order include:

  • DriveThruComics
  • Illustrated Section
  • Xin Xii
  • Apple’s iBookstore
  • My Digital Comics
  • Robot Comics
  • Panelfly
  • Oxicomics
  • Izneo
  • Wowio
  • Comics+
  • Kobo

I can’t speak about all of them and I’m not going to because otherwise I’d be here all day but I’ll certainly provide some basics on a few of them.

Amazon Kindle

The Kindle is an interesting beast. You can sell on there via their DTP program. It’s definitely one to watch. At this time there’s not a lot of comic support on there and really why would there be? The device is grayscale with a rumored tablet arriving this Christmas. But just because of those two points doesn’t mean you should outright ignore it. There are comic readers everywhere and with less competition it might work in your favour.

Be forewarned though, if you’re a non-US resident like myself you’ll encounter some headaches getting your account started. Amazon requires all kinds of tax forms for the IRS and has to withhold 30% of your earnings for tax. There’s also things like being paid 60 days after the end of a month. They can pay you by two different methods; via EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) and cheque. EFT is available to publishers who have a bank account in the US, UK, or Germany. More on payment stuff here.

The royalties for selling on Kindle are about the same or similar to other sites like the Nook.

  • If your comic is between $0.99 and $2.98 you are eligible for a 35% royalty.
  • If your comic is between $2.99 and $9.99 you are eligible for a 70% royalty.

But there’s a catch. Amazon also has a charge for the size of your file. Have a look below for a summary on that.

Amazon list price requirements

Nook

The Nook frustrates me to no end as a non-US resident. At this time they don’t allow anyone else on the device.

Who can use PubIt? (Barnes & Noble’s online, self-service web portal.)

Anyone with a valid U.S. Bank Account, U.S. Credit Card, and U.S. Tax ID can sign up to use PubIt! Your Tax ID can be a Social Security Number (SSN)/ITIN or an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Upon first look, it might be possible right? Nah, that question gets answered a little further down in their FAQ.

Can publishers based outside the U.S. use PubIt?

PubIt! is currently for U.S. publishers. PubIt! requires a U.S. Bank Account, U.S. Credit Card, and a U.S. Tax ID, that are ALL tied to a U.S. address. The content will be offered for sale in the U.S.

So… I’m not sure what else to say about this. Maybe get a US friend to make your account and trust that they give you your money?! It’s kind of ironic that in this digital age where we’re able to sell worldwide we’ve got someone like this telling us no, you can’t. When really, I can do it myself so don’t tell me I can’t. Anyway, PubIt offers similar terms as Amazon.

Publisher will set a List Price for each eBook between $0.99 and $199.99.

Publisher will be paid a royalty off the List Price according to the following terms:

  1. For eBooks with a List Price at or between $2.99 and $9.99
    • 65% of the List Price
  2. For eBooks with a List Price at or below $2.98 or at or greater than $10.00 (but not more than $199.99 and not less than $0.99)
    • 40% of the List Price

In most cases, you will be paid 60 days after the close of the calendar month in which the sale occurs at PubIt. All payments for eBook sales will be transferred into the bank account that you have on file with PubIt! via an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).

When it comes to Comixology and Graphic.ly I have zero personal experience but it would appear you simply email them or fill out a submission form. They also seem to accept high res PDFs (in Comixology’s case) and TIFFs (in Graphic.ly’s case.)

I would like to touch on one more digital distributor in particular though and that’s

DriveThruComics

DriveThruComics Banner

This is a site that’s got a lot going for it. Unfortunately it could be a big turnoff for some due to the abundance of shall we say adult comics. You can do so much at this site that I’m not really going to be able to go over it all here. On this site you sell pdf versions of your comic.

They offer two types of publisher accounts. Exclusive accounts offer a higher royalty rate on sales and other benefits in exchange for making their marketplace the only reseller of the digital products you upload to them. Exclusive publishers receive a 70% royalty on all digital sales and 70% royalty on the margin (sales price – print cost) on all print sales. They also receive more free promotion on the marketplace. Yes, they offer a print option as well but I had a look at the prices and they’re pretty astronomical.

Non-exclusive publishers receive a 60% royalty rate.

The best part by far at DriveThru are your account options. Here, have a look at what resides in your account once it’s set up:

DriveThru Account Preview

You’ll notice there’s even an area for promotion. How cool is that? On the site you can “pay” for promotions using banners and featured product messages. I say “pay” with quotes because they do provide you with a certain amount free of charge every month but you can also buy more. What you are buying is what’s referred to as Publisher Promotion Points.

You can request to be paid via cheque or Paypal. You can also collect your funds whenever you want! Or at the end of each month automatically.

They have so many different options hidden in this one little panel. You can run select sales reports, order print copies of your comics, send emails to customers, send free copies to reviewers/friends, pay freelancers that worked on your comic, create product bundles, and more!

The process is very smooth and they have a ton of videos and tutorials uploaded to the site as well. There is a wealth of information here at your disposal. I still haven’t explored everything in fine detail myself.

Alright, well I was going to talk about selling on your own as well but this post is becoming unwieldy. In short, there are a ton of options out there to get those multiple revenue streams happening. It’s in your best interest to get your comics selling on as many different distributors as possible. At least in the beginning. You never know where those sales might be coming from. The more eyes that are on your product, the better. Your audience doesn’t necessarily come to you, you go to them.

I encourage you to comment below with any questions and to share this post back out to everyone around you. Like you, there’s many other would-be creators dying at the chance to learn something new about creating digital comics.

If you enjoyed this post, consider sharing it!
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About Adam

Adam got his start in comics illustrating and colouring the book Shuddertown from Image Comics/Shadowline. He’s now concentrating his efforts on self-publishing and a larger move into writing novels and helping other authors get their work published. He recently launched his first small press publishing company, EnemyOne, which was realistically over 10 years in the making. He enjoys reading comic books and in particular old, pulpy, crime novels.

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  • guest

    Your advice above is very helpful. But what if I am from Serbia and Serbia only supports moneybookers as a payment solution.So am I able to sell my work only to moneybooker users or is there a solution where I can also use paypal  beside the fact that my country does not support paypal

    • Yeah, Moneybookers would be one option. Or, it appears there’s also Payza (AlertPay) Hope that helps!

  • Amelody85

    You have been extremely helpful, but I have to admit; I was REALLY looking for how to go about it on my own… any chance of getting that info?

  • Abnaxus

    Thanks for the mention of DriveThruComics. I’m having quite the time getting straight answers of what is acceptable or objectionable to mainstream distributors. A human breastfeeding or being sexual makes people freak out (even if no one is forcing them to buy it), but beheadings, throat slitting, and various ways of killing are a-okay! Right. I will definitely check them out. Thanks! 🙂

  • matt

    for personal sites 88mpd.com will work well.