And when all is said and done, making money through self-publishing (especially with a printed title) can be difficult. To see why, let’s follow the money as it goes from the comic book storeowner’s wallet to yours.
1. Purchaser buys the book for $4.00
2. Retailer keeps approximately 40–50% of the cover price = ($2.00)
3. The distributor, who has sold the book to the retailer on a nonreturnable basis, might have bought it from you at 60–70% off of the cover price. a. So, if the cover price is $4.00, and the distributor purchased it from you at 70% off the cover price, you will get $1.20 per book.
4. Keep in mind however, that out of that $1.20 per book (if you’re lucky) you have to pay printing costs, as well as any other production costs (which can be quite considerable). In fact, these costs can actually exceed the revenue from the sales of your book. In other words, you might be losing money!
As you can see, for a smaller “floppy comic” (single issue, 22-page soft cover comic), the profit margins are often too small to make economic sense. Many artists only self-publish longer books and selling them for $15–$25 per book.
Have I scared you off yet? No? Great—let’s learn about printers!
One of the advantages to working with a publishing company is that it takes care of all of the printing requirements for your book. Furthermore, since publishing companies are repeat high-volume customers of the printers, the printers often charge a publishing company less than it would charge you for the same print run.
Printing companies that cater to independent comic book creators, like anything else, vary in quality and price. Before you plunk down your hard-earned cash for a print run of 5000 copies of your comic book, make sure to get a sample of the printer’s work. Paper and print quality matter to comic book shops, because they matter to a shop’s customers.
If you do a print run of 5000 for a 24-page comic book, it can cost you around $0.60–$2.00 per comic.1 Keep in mind: for better quality paper and full color interior pages, you pay more money. However, you can usually lower your per unit printing costs if have a larger print run than 5000 copies.
INTERVIEW: Digital is not the Death of Print
“I honestly don’t think digital comics will ever fully replace the printed comic book. I think one of the big things that has kept the comic book industry around for so long is the need for people to have a sense of community to be able to share something . . . to have something they can hold in their hand. Unless technology took some sort of huge leap, and it was as if you were turning the pages of a comic in your hand (but it was digital), I don’t see printed comics really going away.” – Kimberly Mueller, Director of Content & Talent, NYCC
DON’T GIVE A SHEET! Before you place your order, don’t just double, but triple check that the technical specifications for your book are accurate. Make sure to order a printer’s proof copy of your book before the final print run. Yes it may cost a little bit more money, but it will save you a lot of money if you suddenly discover that one of your pages is upside down. Prepress formatting is obviously beyond the scope of this book, and there are many wonderful books on comic book creation that go into such subjects. (See Resources, p. 266.) That being said, keep in mind a key difference when placing your order: pages are not the same thing sheets! In printing, a page is one side of the piece of paper, a sheet is both sides of the piece of paper. This can be confusing as most standard comic books are around 22–
– RESOURCES –
POPULAR PRINTER SERVICES
As of this writing, some popular comic book printers for indie creators are:
– Createspace.com (partnered with Amazon.com, and offers print on demand service to Amazon customers)
– Transcontinental in Montreal (tctranscontinental.com). Keep in mind that creators need to use caution with respect to content and censorship issues when dealing with overseas printers.
Excerpt from Pocket Lawyer for Comic Book Creators: A Legal Toolkit for Comic Book Artists and Writers by Thomas A. Crowell, Esq. © 2014 Focal Press an imprint of Taylor and Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.