View Full Version : Self Publishing eComics

08-08-2015, 10:57 AM
Hi all,

Hopefully this is in the appropriate forum.

I'm working on a comic book at the moment and intend to self publish it as an eComic in .cbz format.

The general process I'm following is as follows:

1. Write my plot.
2. Digitally paint my art.
3. Package as a .cbz eComic.
4. Open an account with a digital ecommerce site e.g. Selz.com.
5. Upload my .cbz file to my ecommerce account.
6. Make my .cbz file purchasable as a digital download.

I reckon the advantages of this strategy over say the web comic route are as follows:

1. Your audience can read offline.
2. Your audience receives a clearly identifiable product for each payment they make.
3. The creators are not as tied to a regular update schedule as with web-comics.

The disadvantages:

1. You don't get the built in marketing effect of a regularly updated web-comic.
2. Your audience will need to install an eComic reader e.g. Comic Rack.

I was wondering if any of you folks out there have any experience with this route?

I did a search on this forum and around the internet but there don't appear to be many people doing this.

I'd be interested to hear what you good folks think of this approach.

08-08-2015, 07:06 PM
There are actually a lot of people doing this.
Kevin Mellon
Panel Syndicate
A lot of people on gumroad (Here's a sampling: https://gumroad.com/collections/comics )
There are many more, these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

08-09-2015, 02:00 AM
I read your post, and checked out your website. I wanted to see what you had planned so we could have some real idea of what advice would be useful to you.

Please correct me if I'm wrong- you've not got any experience with anything comic related, yeah? Like, not even a whole lot of research, right?

You seem to be jumping straight to the end game. You've not even written your script, yet. As far as I can tell, you've not had any experience writing (let alone selling) anything. Enthusiasm is admirable, but you still gotta do things the smart way.

For example, selling your comic through some eCommerce joint is unlikely to work. You haven't already got a following, so you'd be largely relying on traffic existing on those eCommerce sites. Guess what? That's not where your customers are.


Where do comic book customers buy their digital comics? Do YOU ever buy digital comics? Where do you go? How did you find out about the comics you purchased?

I think you'll find that the biggest fish in the digital comic market is Comixology (or Amazon, by extension). If you don't want to do a webcomic, I feel your best bet would be to get your book into Comixology. If they don't accept your comic, there's something wrong with the book, and therefore likely wouldn't sell, anyway.

People create webcomics to hone their skills and build an audience. That audience will largely follow you wherever you go (which is why these webcomic folk blow everyone else out the water when it comes to Kickstarter campaigns). If you simply put your book up on some obscure online shop (and in the comic world, gumtree and Sellz ARE obscure), what'll you have? A lonely product that no one knows about. Heck, even books that go up on Comixology fight for an audience.

That's not to say you MUST create a webcomic. But you DO need some sort of plan. And the bulk of that plan involves creating a quality product.

On your site, you seem to be approaching things like it's some sort of university project. On this page of your site (http://artloader.net/index.php/comics/project-code-adc-1/), you say the following:


Publish a 30 20 page eComic on the internet.

End Date:

Thursday 31 December 2015


The top priority is adherence to timescales, all other considerations will be secondary to this.

If your only goal is to get your comic online before the end of the year (and not to have it read or make any money), then your plan is sound.

If you want to actually create something that others will enjoy, you need to focus on quality. That means you'll need to forget your deadline if necessary.

In your chart (http://artloader.net/index.php/comics/project-code-adc-1/), you give yourself just a handful of hours to brainstorm your idea, work out your plot, and write your script. Then you give yourself 80 hours to pencil and paint the whole comic. You're doing the lettering yourself (note that you've given yourself basically the same amount of time to letter your comic as you have to the entire writing process) and you've got no editor on board.

All this, to me, looks like you're going to spend a bunch of time on something that (if anyone ever actually finds it) will never sell well.

I'm not saying this to be discouraging, I want to make sure you do things in a way that will actually get some results for you. Do your research on the industry and how to actually produce a quality comic. Then make sure you take your book where people will see it. Learn how to market your comic in a successful way. And remember that it's okay not to be a jack-of-all-trades. If you need to pay someone else to write, or draw, or colour, or letter your comic for it to be the best product possible, do it. And remember that even the best comic creators need editors.

08-09-2015, 05:45 PM
@khperkins: Thanks for the response my friend, those links are like gold dust to me - I've bookmarked them :). My research on eComics publishers to date has only led me to the big companies and one group of independents at FlashBackUniverse. It's the independent publishers I'm interested in as that is the route I intend to follow. It is interesting to note that Kevin Mellon uses GumRoad as well.

@Alyssa: Thank you for taking the time to look over my stuff and comment - I appreciate it.
You are correct, I do not have a whole lot of experience in the comics industry, only my life-long love of comics and my enthusiasm.
I have actually written a high-level plot and am in the process of translating this into a comic book script. I hesitate in revealing my storyline at this point since I had wanted to save it for the final product.
My research is ongoing and I don't ever expect that to change. So far I have begun gathering and analysing information on the comics creation process, digital tools relating to comics and various avenues for self publishing eComics. However I sense that when you say "research" you mean market research i.e. how to market eComics? If this is correct then I have not yet made headway into this area and I would be grateful for any information you could provide.
Where do I get my digital comics? Well I have downloaded one from Comixology (in their proprietary format) and a handful from FlashBackUniverse (in .cbz which I read using Comic Rack). In addition, I intend to purchase some from the links that khperkins has supplied above.
I agree, I DO need a plan above and beyond the plan I have described on my project page and my plan is this:

Complete my eComic project and not expect it to sell or make any money. As you put it - a "University Project" since I would like to put myself through an informal "Comics University". My objective for this project is not monetary but educational. I hope to learn many good lessons from doing the research and development along the way.
Write articles on the lessons I will have learned to cement my understanding and hopefully give something useful back to the digital comics industry.
Repeat the above steps n times.

With each iteration of this process I hope that the quality of my output will increase and I will get faster.
As for building a following, I hope to do this by posting useful articles on digital comics on my website. Something similar to your own website which looks to have some useful content, particularly your analysis of Lazarus #1. I have done a little bit of reading on Search Engine Optimisation and blogging and feel that this model stands a chance of generating web traffic long term.
As for outsourcing work, I am a hobbyist and do not currently have the funds to work with professionals. However, I respect your advice and it is something that I will look into - thank you :).

08-09-2015, 06:29 PM
I will note that Black Mask Studios ( http://blackmaskstudios.com/ ) which puts out some very nice comics, uses Kings Road Merch ( http://blackmaskstore.com/ ) to sell both print and ebook versions of their comics. I have not had much luck with that particular sales site, YMMV.

08-11-2015, 08:55 AM
If you're seriously interested in selling comics online, I recommend reading Economics of Digital Comics (http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Digital-Comics-Todd-Allen/dp/0974959847). It will give you a good analysis of all of the revenue streams linked to digital comics and go beyond just the anecdotal.

I think there are some things you are doing that are very good -- setting goals with actual deadlines, estimating your time, then comparing that to the actual time. Exactly what needs to happen from a project management perspective. But I think you might want to slow down. I can't image writing a script for a 20-page story in 1 hour. If you can complete 20 pages of art in 80 hours, you should just freelance. If you can write a script in 1 hour, how much better would the script be if you invested 8 hours or 8 weeks?

08-11-2015, 05:33 PM
@khperkins: Thanks again, Black Mask Studios look like they're running a pretty slick operation and producing some quality comics. By the way after you put me onto the GumRoad comics, I googled for Selz comics and there are a few digital comics on there as well but at the moment the content is too family unfriendly for me.

@B-McKinley: Thanks for the headsup on the book, Tod Allen seems to have done a lot of research into the business side of digital comics, I'll be adding it to my bookshelf at some point :).
I take your point about slowing down - I think sub-consciously I've always felt that my timescales were a bit ambitious. I am considering reducing the length of the story now. I don't want to change my deadline yet since it is more important to me that I finish on time and learn what lessons I can from following the whole end-to-end process. Thanks for the astute observations my friend :).

Stewart Vernon
08-11-2015, 08:33 PM
I have been doing Web comics for a little over a year now (comic strip style)... and my main strip has been running continuously for a little over 8 months. I am looking into collecting the early strips and selling digitally... preparing for possibly printing some at some point to take with me to conventions as well.

I knew going into it that there was a close to zero chance of anyone looking for or finding me day one. I figured being online and being available and posting stuff almost (if not) daily would help get me out there... and I do pop up in a lot of searches now for some characters and concepts.

Now is the first time I consider it to possibly be worth looking into selling something that might require an investment from me up front. Prior to having the experiences of the past year, I could easily see a scenario where I published something good that nobody knew existed and I might declare it a failure before it ever had a chance.

Unless you're doing work for a major publisher with an established rep... you kind of have to expect to be largely ignored even if you're the next big awesome thing... momentum starts slowly... but if you develop a fanbase, they will tend to follow you. I know I try and follow people who have been around a long time that I've loved for a long time. I keep my eye out for new stuff too, but it's a whole lot easier to find the people I already know to look for.

08-13-2015, 03:29 PM
@Stewart Vernon: You have my admiration for getting as far as you have Stewart, your webcomic looks pretty cool :). I hope your digital sales adventure goes well.
My expectations as I start out are pretty similar to yours were and I do not expect to gain much of a following for a while yet. For now I'm creating a comic as a hobby that I enjoy, it is something I wanted to do as a kid but as with many things - life got in the way :).

Stewart Vernon
08-13-2015, 04:15 PM
Thanks... I actually did have a guest spot at a local comic convention last year... I know the guy who runs the show and he invited me... but I was woefully unprepared to promote myself at that time. It was a great learning experience, though... as I know what I didn't know then... and the next time I'm at a convention I need more promotional stuff to give out, maybe some things to sell, and a bit more established content that I can point people to.