The changes in digital comic book distribution have given independent creators new options and alternate channels to reach their readers. And there are changes that make it possible for artists and writers to get a bigger share of the revenue their work generates.
The largest digital comic book distributor is comiXology which just had their 100,000,000th download. (It was one of mine, Bill Willingham’s Pantheon #3.) They have systematically added large to mid-sized publishers since the debut of their comics reader and store in 2009. But they have shut out individual creators and the smallest of publishers.
A friend of mine went by their booth at the San Diego show this year. He is a fifteen year professional with a new project in the works and he was flatly told that he’d have to come in with a bigger publisher. I hit a similar brick wall when I made a few inquiries about dealing with them direct for upcoming projects. That has changed with the announcement of their new program, comiXology Submit.
This new service will allow independent comic book creators and artists to sell their works directly on Comixology and split the profits with the distribution hub. The split is 50/50 with half going to comiXology and the rest to the small presser. This is a new deal compared to the existing opportunities available to freelancers. Currently, an art team can make a comic and partner with another publisher who has access to the digital marketplaces. That deal is offered by Alterna and a few others. Under that type of arrangement, Apple gets 30% for sales through their stores, comiXology takes their cut of 10% and then the rest is split by the publisher and the creative team. For small press folks this is a deal changer because for online sales, half goes to the creative team. Here’s a visual-
Looking at the chart, the question the creative team has to ask itself, is whether it is worth going with a publisher or with comiXology Submit. Does your the association with the publisher compensate for their share?
There is still a quality metric that has to be hit, and I would argue it is higher now than ever. Back when the one way to get your comics on the shelf was through a distributor like Diamond Comics Distribution, your book would hit the shelf with the other comics of the week. Your competition was the other fifty to a hundred books on that one shelf. Now, as many as three to four hundred comics a week hit the app stores to sit on an infinite shelf. To make a splash in that environment, your work has to be outstanding.
If it is, you stand to make more cash than ever.