Another take on Comixology Submit

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201404220430 Another take on Comixology Submit
The excited combustion of the Amazon/Comixology announcement has cooled off and now people are just wondering when the first effects of this blockbuster deal will be seen. While many people have been fretting about the survival of Comixology Submit—their upload it yourself, share the profits platform for indie comics—it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that Amazon would be averse to since they are also big on upload it yourself portals.
When I first wrote about his deal, I linked to Ryan Estrada’s take on Submit, which was that it wasn’t ahuge money maker for him. However I received an alternate view of Submit from Graham Johnson, co-creator of Of Stars and Sword (above)and a member of Serious Turtle Studios. With his permission, I’m quoting his comments here. ONe thing before you read it, check out Of Stars and Swords, it’s a nice looking webcomic!

My name is Graham Johnson and together with my wife, Caroline, we make the comic Of Stars and Swords. It’s primarily a webcomic, but we’ve been on Comixology through Submit since they launched the program. I was reading your article on the whole thing and wanted to throw some of my own thoughts your way. We’re tiny and not really well known, but a couple things you mention about Submit aren’t entirely accurate in our experience with it.

Mainly, the idea that Submit takes about a six month turnaround. It’s definitely longer than it was at the start (which was about a month), but our most recent issue went live in early March after having been submitted in December. It was even rejected for some low rez text that I quickly fixed and resubmitted. This kind of leads into some things I’ve noticed about Ryan Estrada’s blog post that also don’t fit with what we’ve seen, nor many of the other Submit creators that we know. Rejection definitely happens a fair bit, as Comixology is extremely picky about making sure files are the right resolution and such, but quite a lot of creators don’t seem to e-mail them. Whenever we’ve had a problem, I’ve sent an e-mail and had a reply within hours and had help figuring out the problem. We’re scrambling to make do like anyone, and I know it’s busy, but the Submit program isn’t nearly as bad as many of the posts seem to talk about.

Not only that, but places like Gumroad and such might bring more money to creators with a name, but it does nothing for the rest of us. Submit is a HUGE deal for Of Stars and Swords, as well as for the other comics from friends of ours that are also in those first few years and not well known. Places like Gumroad are more or less useless to us, as we’re already stretched thin on the marketing end and  no one knows who we are anyway…but Comixology puts us right there with everyone else on a slightly more level playing field. It’s really the closest thing to an Artist Alley at a convention.

To be entirely honest, I’m not really all that worried about Amazon buying Comixology. There are the obvious, usual fears that come to mind when a larger company buys a smaller, well liked one, but the potential positives HUGELY outweigh the negatives for us smalltimers. Mainly, the chance at a larger audience (maybe) is a big deal, even if we’re still kind of drowned out. Whereas if Comixology is just folded out completely and destroyed, it would be terrible, but we make so little money ANYWAY that Comixology is much more about exposure levels and eyes. Besides, that’s where places like Gumroad and our own website come in!

It seems that Submit will be around for a while, so it’s worth noting that the biggest slowdowns are with improperly formatted files. If you want to get your comics up there, make sure to read the instructions for DPI and resolution—although to be fair I hard a hard time finding those instructions on the Submit portal.) Perhaps that will be the next post in this series!

Have you had an experienec good or bad with Submit, Gumroad or other digital comics stroefronts? Tell us about it!

Comments

  1. As an ‘emerging comic creator’, I am quite interested in hearing what it’s like to work with Comixology Submit.

  2. Paul Houston says:

    He left out the most important thing, sales expectations? Even a roundabout estimate. Its awesome that everyone can see your comic, great, but are people buying it?

  3. That part is probably going to depend on a lot on your comic.

  4. I have a couple titles through Submit (click my name and buy them all!) and a third waiting in the wings. They take a long time but I think that’s to be expected considering how many submissions they probably get. I’ve had an almost identical experience as Mr. Johnson describes. There have been a couple rejections for technical reasons but they are very responsive and helpful via email.

    I hope this service stays and can expand with Amazon’s added weight!

  5. Gumroad, Ribbon and ComiXology dumping me are documented elsewhere. Well, *were*, as the Bleeding Cool article on Gumroad dumping me last April has disappeared from their website. But these articles remain:

    Ribbon dumping me last November: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/11/07/dale-lazarov-and-changing-digital-comic-content-considerations/

    Comixology dumping me right before Amazon purchased them: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/02/22/comixology-rejects-dale-lazarovs-first-to-digital-gay-comics-smut/

    It can’t be the quality of the work. I have five gay erotic graphic novels out in hardcover; the fifth one, GREEK LOVE, came out earlier this month.

  6. The main reason I didn’t talk about sales expectations is because, honestly, you shouldn’t have any. So much of that depends on the book, the cover, the name, how many issues you have, if any of your creators have names that carry weight, what week it releases, and just general dumb luck. It’s a lot like tabling at a convention: You’ll catch a couple of eyes, but you’re not going to get rich or, really, break even much of the time.

    It’s the reality of being a comic creator, especially when you’re a complete unknown, even if you’ve got an amazing product. Be happy for the sales you DO make, because you wouldn’t have made them otherwise, and hope that those readers will stick with you and maybe tell their friends if they like it.

    It’s a hard, slow game, and the true benefit of Comixology is it adds at least a little bit of legitimacy to your book as it had to pass through some level of review to get there. That and it’s a huge market of potential readers and you never know who could stumble on your book. Like pretty much anything in creator owned comics, it’s no promise of success, but since they (currently) don’t charge you to Submit, there’s pretty much no downside.

  7. Graham Johnson said:
    “It’s the reality of being a comic creator, especially when you’re a complete unknown, even if you’ve got an amazing product. Be happy for the sales you DO make, because you wouldn’t have made them otherwise, and hope that those readers will stick with you and maybe tell their friends if they like it.”

    THIS! Graham drives it home with the nail of truth. Even for some of us who have publishers it’s still very HARD. The ladder has many rungs. I’d like to be higher up myself, but I have to remember that just being on the ladder is a step in the right direction. I won’t lie that even I have considered using Comixology’s Submit program for my self-published art from the 1990s.

  8. chris says:

    I feel that Submit’s technical specs are inaccurate. I’ve done production on several Submit books, and followed everything to the letter. Every single time the books get kicked back for having low resolution imagery. I double the resolution and its fine. Seems that they need twice that of print (600 dpi) to be accepted. Its just weird that their own specs don’t seem to be good enough.

    I love Gumroad. Being able to do a pay what you want thing through there is great. I wish they had an App so you could track your purchases easier, and they that paid out faster (currently every 2 weeks, but they say they are changing that). I really like how they send you the email address of all your customers so you can thank them or just add them to a sales list for the future.

  9. chris says:

    too many indie self publish creators worry about sales numbers and money. while making mediocre good comics. Making great work should be the only thing that matters until you’ve built a name for yourself.

  10. Submit is a godsend for independent creators. Except when it isn’t.

    It’s the rejection based on content that concerns me the most. Getting locked out of mainstream markets – whether it’s the newsstand market by the Comics Code, the direct market by Diamond, or the Comixology system by the arbitrary content “standards” of their corporate partner Apple … and now their corporate master Amazon – puts a huge burden on creators to reach their audience. Not being able to sell where most of the customers are means a smaller potential market and higher costs, which (for creators without deep pockets to start out with) can make it impractical to create and sell the material at all.

  11. We got annoyed at the turnaround times for the submit program. A book we submitted on 06/16/2013 didn’t go live until 10/16/2013. That’s obviously not an 8-9 month wait (like some have stated) but it’s also clearly not anything that we could work with in regards to a monthly or even bi-monthly comic book. It’s hard enough to keep readers when they have to wait 4 weeks between issues, let alone 4 months.

    Shameless plug: We decided to try something ourselves and built http://comicblender.com and we’re sharing it with other creators who want to jump on board. I’m not about to spam the comments with my sales pitch. Just thought I’d mention it as a possible alternative for others like us.

  12. Terry says:

    Not to be cynical, but just how many sales are we talking about here? I’m guessing dozens at most, which means that Submit is basically doing little or nothing for the comic creator trying to break in to a full-time gig. If I’m wrong please set me straight, but this seems like a lot of excitement about a guy making less than $100…

  13. johnrobiethecat says:

    Great your doing this article, Back in form. I thought everybody was slowly being CBR’d to irrevelance for a while there.

    Gumroad is a cool idea but needs more big name independent creators to help popularize it (that is their terms stay fair) . That looks doubtful. Many of those creators with that clout seem conservative and will be maintaining industry ties at best. Be nice if the Private Eye, BKV, Marcos Martin team tries it. That might do something…..Most known guys will probrably stay with Image and corporate Marvel/DC or DArk Horse etc for the next 20 yrs, even if everything goes digital. And that’s kind of a bummer.

    Its looking pretty evident almost by all accounts that no independent creators make a living selling books on Comixology Submit which is a problem. They seem to tout the Becky Cloonan & Failkov book as the success stories but then again, who knows their terms or amount of exposure they get compared to no-names on the site To be just grateful to be on there and not get paid while Comixology & Apple does seems like a sad admission that you don’t deserve to make a real living.,Try searching these comics a few weeks after they are posted there. It’s search tool is awful. Or making comixology’s $100 per quarter and being hidden in the site for 5 yrs. Comixology is a lot like Google Ad sense. You can place your work there but it robs you adding value to that space yourself or of any ambition to make a living from it because its on “the biggest digital spavce out there already”. Like Ad Sense, you make pennies while Google makes thousands Just hope you can herd the thousands of visitors there to make some extra money if even possible. It’s a lousy business plan. Submit just another pitch for their acquistion plans of the founders. ,Propoganda really.They’re rich, The creators stay robbed. They are clearly exploiting these creators, look at their lack of publicity of exposure on the site. And most of all, lack of payments. Do a poll on how many of these submit creators even get paid? In short, Comixology sucks by riding a value scam on people ‘s dreams. And they also negate the possibility that the creators will form something against them like an independent online store. Now that Amazon is bankrolling things, maybe nothing matters anymore. I avoid purchases on the site now.

    “But Comixology puts us right there with everyone else on a slightly more level playing field. It’s really the closest thing to an Artist Alley at a convention.”

    Not really, its just a needle in the back of marvel/dc haystack in front. Hold them to a higher standard, They make real. easy money off all your work together while you don’t really sell. And if you do sell, you’ll have to clear a $100 every 3 months for the next 5 yrs. Try finding Submit on the homepage and you’ll see Comixology’s respect for these creators. Another freebie for them, just a mass of people who get to live on the back pages, It’s repellant they don’t called on this.

  14. fbeme says:

    I am a Submit creator, and since the opinions and questions seem to be a little bit of everything, I’ll post what I can about my experience including actual numbers.

    To be upfront, Submit was never about making $$$ for me: it was always about the exposure. I believe that anyone that goes into thinking just being on comiXology will make you rich or push sales to an extreme is kidding yourself if you are an unknown in the industry. This was my second series, and second to fail at getting any kind of publisher response, so the value of having a little bit more exposure for future creations was my main goal.

    So, here is me. I had a 3 issue series with dates from submission to go-live as follows
    1) Issue 1: submitted 03/09/2013, approved 04/10/2013, go-live 07/03/2013
    2) Issue 2: submitted 07/03/2013, approved 07/12/2013, go-live 09/25/2013
    3) Issue 3: submitted 07/03/2013, approved 07/12/2013, go-live 10/23/2013

    I chose ProjectWonderful as my main source for advertising, plus word of mouth on my previous web comic site, requests for reviews, etc.

    Sales in total per issue were as follows: Issue 1 – 21 copies; Issue 2 – 6 copies; Issue 3 – 3 copies.

    You do receive a quarterly spreadsheet with the actual numbers broken down for sales per month over the quarter, and the details provide information on country and number of items sold. The report also includes a breakdown of your share vs. comixology’s. The report is issued 6 weeks into the next quarter.

    Since there are no means to judge how well your book sells compared to other Submit titles, the one thing a creator can do is use what is available. For me, I used the public view of data that comiXology provided via their bundle sale during SXSW. comiXology offered their top 100 books at a discount, but stated that these were the top 100 sales for the year. Looking at where the bottom item was and comparing the only information I had (number of reviews), I gauged how much the titles must have sold. Mind you, the top books are popular and I have no doubt that they did sell larger numbers (also, some of these top books are by more well-known independent creators). But based upon that (largely inaccurate number), you could make a guess as to how well these books sold. Personally, I don’t think they sold that much based upon my high level analysis. But again, the top books do sell a large amount more and I have no doubt they were “successful” (in quotes because it is subjective – in this case, only the creators can speak to that).

    Problems I saw:
    1) Communication and the Submit interface is very weak. You do have to email them to get a response as the interface is simplistic at best, and offers no real means to interact with comiXology directly. However, responses are generally fast (within hours). The only problem is again that you must contact them if you ever wish to know what is going on: they don’t really tell you anything. (Side note: For my first issue I did have to send several emails after receiving my initial acceptance because there was never any further update. The only subsequent update is a week before it will be available for sale. Other than that, you are completely in the dark.)
    2) There is little forewarning of when your book will be published. It takes time between when you receive acceptance and the issue goes live, but you only formally find out the issue is going live one week before the release date. Again, because of the lack of proper information on the submission pages where you manage your comic, you have no control over pre-planning (things like marketing, etc.). I will add that there is an area where you can provide additional comments: for issues 2 and 3 I requested a specific month of release in advance and the issues were released during those months, but again you only find out a week before go-live. They don’t tell you anything.
    3) Outside of the Submit page on comiXology, there is no additional advertising that you get via having it on comiXology. One of the things that I did notice immediately and still do, is the great difference in quality of work that is there. This is (always) subjective, but you are somewhat tied to being placed around other titles that may be inferior/superior/younger/older/etc. It doesn’t offer the sort of customization from a placement perspective that could assist with a launch. It literally is “everything is here.” Also, depending upon the number of issues released that week (and depending upon the platform because of the interface), you may be on the first list of items that are displayed or maybe on a subsequent page.
    4) The actual sales information is not very helpful for someone to gauge what is working and what isn’t. As an example, let’s say you did off-and-on advertising. Maybe you did a big push initially, got a review late in the game, whatever. It would be nice to see more current details on what worked in upping sales, and what didn’t. But you don’t have access to this information. The actual sales report is very rudimentary, and since you have to wait until the middle of the next quarter to see it, it isn’t as if you will be able to change direction quickly to do a better job at advertising/pricing/etc. However, you don’t receive any sort of true demographics on who is actually buying the book either: age, gender, etc. You can’t for that matter actually tell how you do against other Submit books, because comiXology only provides you with your data: not the Submit program’s or the company’s (even if they wished to take out the big name publishers because of some sort of independent agreement they had with them).
    5) In general, I would refer to the entire Submit program as being another tool, but it isn’t significant by any means. The tooling (that exists), the reporting, the communication, the entire end-to-end process, is all very basic and smacks of immaturity. If you understand comiXology’s history and the platform in general, this makes sense. But you would expect that they would be more organized and have a more professional mechanism for the process in general. But they don’t. This is one thing that I am sure will change with the Amazon purchase.

    In general, Submit IS just another tool. I would use it again as another option, but my expectations aren’t significant with it. I would use it simply as a potential marketing avenue and distribution platform. But it is just a tool.

  15. If Marvel and DC are not brave enough to break their Comixology Terms & Conditions to reveal their sales numbers, then you shouldn’t expect independents to either.

    As a Submit participant (7 titles) I would like to be able to divulge numbers, and have the kind of open discussions about sales that fiction authors do at Kindle Boards. It’d be a step forward for independent comics, but at the moment it’s not possible.

    Despite comments above, I wouldn’t say that Comixology is cynically exploiting Submit creators, or that it’s some sort of charity they offer to independents. I suspect it’s more of a long play that they expect will hold financial benefits to them over the long run, and hopefully it’ll develop into a thriving independent ecosystem like self-pub e-fiction has become. Amazon didn’t chuck Dan Brown off the front page just because someone self-published an ebook.

    Plus, we already have pure-indie distributors of e-comics where we can get front page service. I’m a part of many of them, and Comixology impact for me is infinitely greater. Other distributors also have minimum thresholds for payment (presumably to keep overheads down), and the chances of getting paid out are near-nil because they don’t have the customer base. I think Comixology works *because* we are where people go to get their x-men comics, not in spite of that fact.

    Could Comixology be better for indie comics, of course. Should we expect more, why not. Are they currently the best opportunity to get your e-comic discovered and bought by people, from my (admittedly private) numbers – yes.

  16. johnrobiethecat says:

    @fbeme
    wow, thanks for taking the time to do all that. A really honest breakdown of what actually happen with Comixology Submit. Its actually the best journalism on the subject for the last year and a half. Its been maddening to watch Comixology just get this free pass and just numb creators opportunities to do better or think bigger. I think that’s still is possible. It easy to see the reasoning to sign with Comixology but they are clearly expoiting the Submit people. Getting paid is a rarity I’m sure.

    So Comixology uses their lawyers at full effect with this contract-$100 minimum per quarter, 5 yrs contract, and we’ll let you know what we want you to know. Judging by your stats 95% won’t get paid or will get much little exposure past month 3 for 5 yrs contract. Those term seem criminal. If the facts ever do get out. oh let’s say in some future court case, how much Comixology made vs creators, you’ll see that they are in good company with the big two world in terms of ethics and greed.

    Wonder who got the money for that $10 hundred comics Submit bundle they had, if that got shared which I doubt. They are paying creators with publicity and low expectations. Everything with them is hidden. How many millions they got from Amazon, how many issues they sell, who gets paid what or if they pay at all. It’s like one of the biggest scams I’ve seen. The world of comics should call these guys out. And respect that you should get paid for your work. They don’t.

  17. fbeme says:

    @johnrobiethecat

    Just to be clear again, I hold nothing against comiXology for anything. It is simply a tool. Their terms are clear for any that are interested and there is potential there: just like any site that caters to a similar audience as yours, there is the potential for wider exposure. It was never in my mind that I would make any $$$, but I was looking for the (possible) added exposure and wanted to try it out.

    In my specific case, I would probably have gone the way of offer for free via web comic at some point anyway with that specific series: I did this for my first series, and am playing around with it for my new series. Again, I treat it as a tool. But it works both ways: comiXology gets a number of things out of it as well, and that is all very obvious. To play them as a great, malevolent guru is like trusting “google is not evil.” It isn’t that simple.

    The one thing I have never understood, is what the big secret is: for both independent creators and the big publishers. Well, out side of maybe tax/etc sort of situation. Information is not bad if you learn from it and can use it to move things forward. The big publishers would be the last to release that type of information, as it is more of a “closed environment” (their level of business and competition are different from smaller entities.) I am not justifying, quite the contrary, but they are slow moving dinosaurs that are large corporations.

    With that said, I think it would be in everyone’s best interest to release this sort of information more openly. Again, it is for the greater good of the community, and I think others, like ourselves, would benefit from both an industry and personal perspective: whether it is for someone who is trying to get into the field or just would like to know how things work.

  18. johnrobiethecat says:

    “Could Comixology be better for indie comics, of course. Should we expect more, why not. Are they currently the best opportunity to get your e-comic discovered and bought by people, from my (admittedly private) numbers – yes.”

    Um, not sure you speak for everybody since it looks like your books are actively and prominently promoted by Comixology under the Submit banner like Cloonan,Failkov & whoever else they get behind. Most Submit Creators are tossed in the back of the site in a mix & mash slush pile. They rarely make they front page even in the bottom tier units like “Staff Picks”. “Batman/Superman” or “Essential Guardians of the Galaxy Reads” after one and a half years. It’s like find it if you can, we got a nice tiny link for you somewhere here. That’s the publicity most people have and if Comixology keeps getting their free content from people tossing their books at them week after week, rarely having to pay out (since the clearance number is so high) or publicize properly, it becomes their own penny stock scheme and fools people into not aspiring higher at another website/payment model because they are on “Comixology”. It’s dubious at best.

  19. Terry says:

    @fbeme: Thanks so much for the great info – your post was more informative than the lead article. Now, please tell us where to go buy your comic!

    [BTW I do not think Submit is a scam – it’s part a well-intentioned experiment and part smart marketing – the people Submitting will likely be more willing to buy from Comixology in the future. So they get some nice PR, a loyal base of consumers and very little downside…]

  20. @johnrobiethecat, you’re right in that Comixology chooses which titles to publicise, how frequently and where. However, I see it as the right of any business, large or small, to display the stock they have in whatever manner they choose, don’t you?

    To say that a books sales numbers reflect only a featured spot is reductionist at best and ignores the effect of product, marketing, audience outreach, networking, blog reviews and reviewers, word of mouth and all-round-effort.

    Who or what Comixology, Amazon or even your LCBS chose to put front and center is part of a books potential sales, but it’s not everything. While featured space *is* at a premium, Digital shelf space is near limitless, and Amazon and the self-pub authors who use them are both benefactors of the Long Tail effect of the low-cost of housing a huge number of titles. So at the least you get a link and a distribution channel to leverage.

    As fbeme has said, Comixology is a tool, not a magic bullet.

  21. fbeme says:

    @Terry

    It’s funny. When I initially heard about comiXology Submit (when it was still in beta and not open to the public), there was no information about it. I contacted them and asked, and was told that information would be coming soon (that was more than a year before it was opened up). Then when it was opened up, there was still very little info about it. There was the Submit site, but it is very basic: just the technical details (which is required). But for all of the people that had independent books on the site, no one would share details. When I went through the several months of waiting for an actual date of release from when I was originally told I was accepted, I looked and looked, but no one would talk about it. I always find it strange why no one is willing to share the details. There is nothing contractually preventing you and it helps others as well as help “us” as a whole. But anyway, people do and act the way they feel.

    Since the whole release, there have been few email communications from comiXology on changes or ways they are looking to improve. One of the more interesting ones came before the big bundle of 100, where they asked all creators if they would be willing to allow comiXology to package their books together under special pricing and promotions. Sounded like a good idea that could help get more people interested at special pricing, but it seems that was linked more to that special bundle (but more may be changing over time). Again, one of the main problems with comiXology is that it is all very rudimentary. Some of the ties to things such as pricing models do have ties to other companies (like Apple), but generally the offering is very basic. I hold to my original comment that it is very immature and that it isn’t what I would call well-thought out in general, but there are reasons for that that are their own. Again, you can take it or leave it: it is a tool. Maybe not the most precise nor most beneficial in my opinion, but it is something to be aware of and to leverage if you feel it necessary.

    Personally, I didn’t have any problems with the specs they offered. They were all very basic and specific and exactly what I was looking for. Given the lack of details for a lot of publisher submission programs, theirs at least was pointed.

    I wasn’t trying to make this a marketing thing for me, as that wasn’t the point. That’s why I didn’t post any links, but feel free to take a look if you are curious (www.lodiepublishing.com). Again, just thought I would offer my details as no one seemed to be willing to open up. I was in the same position before, and would assume most people are, so would be very appreciative if someone would offer insight (key or otherwise).

  22. johnrobie says:

    @fbeme
    “With that said, I think it would be in everyone’s best interest to release this sort of information more openly. Again, it is for the greater good of the community, and I think others, like ourselves, would benefit from both an industry and personal perspective: whether it is for someone who is trying to get into the field or just would like to know how things work.”

    They don’t release that information because people may be shocked at the one -sidedness of the deal. Picture the Amazon/Comixology meeting. Apparently by news accounts, Amazon is really interested in Submit so it’s a selling point.

    (Fictional fly-on-the wall- conversation, only to make a point)

    Amazon:…so tell us about this Comixology Submit?

    Comixology: Yes, big success. Now we are being flooded with submissions. Every month, every week. Weg ot more than we can handle.

    Amazon: How much did it make last year?

    Comixology: (let’s say) 1 million

    Amazon: So how much is each cut, Apple? lemmme guess?

    Comixology: 30 %, so that’s about $300,000

    Amazon: After that , you divide the $700,000 between you and the creator?

    Comixology: in theory, that’s the deal but we hardly have to pay them for it because of our terms. Most of them make way under $100 a book so it’s 5 yrs from now and then we collect the interest and keep it. So maybe we pay out $50,000 in total to the books that make over $100 per quarter that year & keep the 600,000, usually the ones we promote and they in turn promote us. The rest are just happy to be there and be unpaid. To make over $100 per quarter where they are on our site is very unlikely. We set it up so we have no obligation to pay them under $100 till they check out 5 yrs later under our terms. We also fixed the contract that we are only liable for $100. And they keep sending us books and singing our praises. Free stuff to sell.

    Amazon: Sweeeeeeeeeeeet!!!! Most of that $700, 000 goes to you each year and you may not have to pay them till 5 years later. That’s easy money. And they love you for it too? What a business!

    Comixology: That’s how we roll.

  23. This has been a really good and honest discussion. I think Comixology deserves plenty of scrutiny, especially after this Amazon deal but I’d like to jump in and support them a bit here. I’ve overall had a really good experience with them selling my book through Submit.

    When the SXSW Submit Bundle went on sale, the 100 titles seemed to be listed on their website in order of popularity so I’m assuming they were numbered based on sales. My own book, Nathan Sorry, fell just within the top 50 so that would make me a middle-of-the-road Submit comic. I reached my $100 after 2 quarters (to correct some misinformation in previous comments, you do not need to exceed $100 per quarter, it’s a one-time threshold, though admittedly a lot of books still won’t break that I’m sure).

    So, that might give you a little sense of how an average Submit book does. It’s not great money by any means. I can do much better than that in one weekend at almost any convention. However, you can’t discount the fact that selling through Comixology takes NO EFFORT on your part. You’re not dealing with printers, retailers, distributors. You’re not spending money on printing, shipping, travel. You’re not tracking lost shipments, fixing faulty sales mechanisms on your website, dealing with customers that didn’t get their books. You literally have nothing to do except SUBMIT your PDF and then try to promote it (I admit that can be a lot of work, but still).

    In return, you’re getting to sell your comic in the place where everyone who reads digital comics is shopping. I don’t get why anyone would complain that Comixology doesn’t promote their books for them. The day they are released they appear RIGHT ON THE FRONT SCREEN of the app. It can share the same “shelf space” with a freaking Batman comic. You’re not going to get that anywhere else. So what if it’s only for a week? That’s prime advertising space for one week that you don’t have to pay for.

    Previously, I sold my comic through Graphicly back when they did that sort of thing. Their app was devoid of any Marvel, DC or Image comics for the most part. It was pretty much a ghetto of bad comics and no one was going there.

    I think Comixology is pretty committed to Submit. Why they’re so committed could be an interesting question but I think they will probably improve the experience in some ways for Submitters in the Amazon era. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  24. fbeme says:

    @johnrobie
    While I don’t think that is the actual conversation :) things always come down to dollars and cents in any business setting. comiXology is a business like any other and they have their own interests to look out for. Every creator needs to be OK with what they are signing up for, and more importantly, what they are getting out of it. To complain that you aren’t making as much as you think you should or that the person/company you have partnered with (and comiXology is your partner in this) is getting too much, isn’t logical: if you make the deal, you do it openly. Hence, the sharing of information.

    I won’t state that I think it is a completely level playing field, but it doesn’t have to be: it is only as level as you feel you are willing to live with. Beyond that, it means it isn’t the right choice for you.

    There is a reason why other creators choose not to go this route and do it on their own. It was mentioned by someone earlier about books such as “The Private Eye” being separate and choosing not to go this path. But there is a reason for that: they don’t need to. If you have wide enough exposure on your own, nothing is stopping you from bringing your own creation/product to market. Some artists can do that, but not all.

    Likewise, comiXology is strategic with placement on their site. To think otherwise is not truly being realistic. They are a business just like any other, and placement does equate to revenue. There is a reason why the big two have front seats at your LCBS: they are the main revenue generators to that specific store’s audience. It isn’t likely that a store would would place the latest My Little Pony in the front window of their downtown location that is next to a strip club (at least I hope not). The point is that it is a business, and there are reasons behind those decisions. Again, it is back to each individual to choose what they feel is right for them and to be honest with what you hope to get out of it. I won’t speak for anyone else, as I would not want anyone to speak for me. But we should be honest and upfront.

    As I said, I am sure there are a number of creators that make money off of their Submit books: not all, but some. But the point is to be honest about what you expect to get out of it and be able to live with it. If you can, then feel free to move forward with it. If not, then there are other options.

    Bottom line, it is a good discussion to have and hopefully more will share their own viewpoints.

  25. johnrobie says:

    “you’re right in that Comixology chooses which titles to publicise, how frequently and where. However, I see it as the right of any business, large or small, to display the stock they have in whatever manner they choose, don’t you?”

    @TimGibson
    I think one of the real problems in our society is that people get in an exceedingly fair minded position when it comes to seeing a corporation running things as a “business” and have to pay no heed to ethics or fairness because after all they’ve got employees tp pay, lights to keep on , profits to make, etc. You may think you’re being fair but they have a team of lawyers drawing up contracts to your full disavantage knowing that their is a smitten comics press more focused on who playing the next FF guy or what’s selling in Japan rather than the legalities of their contracts. This big guy’s point of view stream of logic seems to always replace ones own interest. A need to look fair with someone holding a lot of cards.

    You may be in the 3% that sees some profits because of outside publicity and hard work in other arenas , maybe a better promotion setup with Comixology. But most Submit Creators can question what they do especially in contracts or visibility on the site (which sounds like Comixology’s real payment, or that’s implied). If people say payment isn’t what I’m there for, then you can question why there is lack of visibility, even in the non Marvel/DC slots which may be less than 1/3rd of the site. Seriously, these comics are hard to find.

    Questions like hey guys, what’s with the 5 years? or $100 liability clause? Is that what Marvel, DC and Image have to do? So If I sell somewhere else at a more healthy creator payment ratio where gets 70% creator/seller gets 30% and all the link traffic & promotion comes to Comixology at the my creator deal of 30% to creator/Comixology-Apple gets 70% ratio, am I undermining any chance I have to make real digital sales from my work outside of a hobbyist trickle of cash for that next 5 yrs because I’m at easy-to -download from Comixology?

    Comixology is powered by a lot of goodwill from the comics community, that’s why they are so eager to maintain it. But at least acknowledge it’s a bad deal on some level, they tout their few high profile success stories because most Submit creators (maybe 96%) have really bad deals. This bad deal majority may not mind now (though I think they do) but if Amazon finds a way jiggy more cash out of their works that Comixology/Amazon doesn’t have to pay, then maybe by year 2 or year 3 , class action lawsuits may be the biggest part of the Submit/Amazon story.

  26. I don’t really know what you want us to say, Johnrobie.

    Well I haven’t seen these shadowy hordes of lawyers you speak of, it seems that the small independent apps, websites and comic distributors I use must hire the same team too, because they have similar contracts.

    I appreciate your passion for better deals for creators, but I feel the reality is less dramatic than you’re implying. In an ideal world e-comics on all platforms would be receiving royalties like Amazon’s 70% cut for appropriately priced e-fiction, and monthly payments of whatever is owed regardless of thresholds. At the moment, that deal doesn’t exist anywhere for comics.

    I believe Drive Thru offers 70% if you grant them exclusivity, and I’m not sure they have the audience base to warrant it. I haven’t had much success there, at least. The other websites and distributors I sell my comic through don’t offer anything significantly different than Comixology either.

    The biggest hurdle facing digital indie comics isn’t a few percentage points, or payment schedules or even publisher analytics (and boy would those be great), it is audience size and audience interest.

  27. Marcus says:

    What I heard from a friend who submitted to comixology is that they take forever to process your work. It takes about 6 months. And if you make one mistake, even if you fix it the same day, you pretty much end up in the back of the line and have to wait another 4 to 5 months before they decide to find another problem you have and send you an email to fix it. Meaning that if they are not happy with this one single chapter or issue of the work, they will mention the problems one at a time with 4-5 months in between. It would take a year or so to have the next issue to come out if you are lucky. Not that my friend cares about making money, nor does he think that the people at comixology is scheming him. After all, you are not going to make a lot of money in comics anyway. The problem is he can’t tell if anyone is reading or buying his work. Because comixology doesn’t provide the stats. So he might sit there and think that he is getting some exposure, but in fact, you are lost in an over-saturated platform. If I were him, I wouldn’t bother to submit. I have seen companies use contest and submission to draw attention. The only people who truly benefit are not the artist/creator.

  28. This quote made me laugh, “it’s very important that the file specs are followed exactly,” as following them to the letter is why our book kept getting sent back. Their instructions state to convert TIFF to Lossless JPEG 2000, which turned out to be wrong, in our case.

    After submissions and rejections over several months in Spring of 2013, I finally decided to do it my way and change the setting in Acrobat to ZIP, which then finally got our book accepted; it didn’t show up on the site until December (which was the worst time of the year for it to drop. Views on our webcomic are at their lowest in December, and I imagine interest in digital comics is low, as well). I can’t see any discernible difference in JPEG 2000 vs TIFF, but that seemed to do the trick.

    PDF is just the absolute worst format for art, by the way; it’s primary function was for sending text documents when we had little memory and bandwidth, and it’s purpose is long obsolete. Even while utilizing the supposed lossless settings, one simply can not get a decent looking PDF that isn’t blurry. My zipped CBR/CBZ of the compressed JPEGs of our comic looks razor sharp on a screen, and is much smaller in size than the PDF version. It is incomprehensible and inefficient that they insist you send them a PDF, instead of a zipped folder of your perfect TIFFs.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Also, The Beat ran an article this week with my thoughts on the recent announcement of Amazon buying Comixology and how it relates to the Submit program, which is what we publish Of Stars and Swords through! So if you’re interested in my general ramblings on that subject, go have a look! […]

  2. […] a pretty lively discussion of Comixology’s Submit program going on in the comments of this post. And while SUbmit seems to be a very useful thing, it seems taht a lot of books that […]

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    Another take on Comixology Submit — The Beat

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    Another take on Comixology Submit — The Beat

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