A (much) better way to sell your Digital Comics

In the comic news I’ve seen some conversation about some bigger creators (like Mark Millar) not wanting to sell through Apple or other services that take a big cut of your profits. There’s good reason to be skeptical because these services don’t really allow you access to raw download numbers, you just have to trust a big brand and then they take a huge cut. I’ve seen Warren Ellis link to “Not .99 cent method“, which I like what that fella says about a mobile SMS payment, – but I’ve got an even BETTER way to sell your digital comics, maintain some control and keep MORE of your money.

#1 – Setup an account at e-junkie.com

E-Junkie allows you to sell ALL KINDS of digital goods. As an example, I sell my PDF ebook course “Cash for Cartoonists” through it and I couldn’t be happier. Don’t take my word for it, big brands like MTV, TechCrunch, CNN and others use this service. You can setup very simple BUY NOW buttons, etc, just like in paypal. You just enter the info, your price, and upload your file…. POOF, you’re e-publishing. The basic plan is going to run you $5 a month and will allow you to host 10 products, unlimited downloads, etc. E-Junkie connects directly to your paypal, google checkout, etc.

EJunkie also gives you plenty of doo-dads on the back end to secure your downloads, etc. In the “not .99″ method, the creator only hopes that other people won’t share the download link. That’s not secure enough! With EJunkie you can limit an amount of times a file can be downloaded or from a set number of IPs and even PDF stamping that puts the buyers name and contact info inside of it! It’s an awesome service. Learn more about all the features here.

#2 – Earn MORE through Paypal with micropayment pricing!!!

If you’re using the standard paypal fees for selling 99cent books or 2.99, you’re getting boned with a 2.9%+30cent fee on EVERY sale no matter what price. Little do most creators know (you’re welcome in advance) you can actually go into Paypal and change to Micropayment pricing to 5%+.05 cents on every sale. How does this break down? Let’s say you were selling a 2.00 digital comic….

  • Regular paypal fees would cost you .36 a sale leaving you with 1.64 in profit.
  • Micropayment fees would cost you .15cents leaving you with 1.85 in profit. (that’s 21 extra cents in your pocket by simply changing to micropayment pricing. Not much, but it adds up!
  • Selling a 2.00 through iTunes with apple’s 30% cut will leave you around the same at $1.40 profit per unit. (You even make 4 cents MORE with standard paypal fees!)

The point is, with the Micropayment pricing, you can be making 21 cents more per unit or issue.  Think about that. If you have a decent following for your work, going it alone and selling direct to fans is the way to go. The only reason to be on iTunes or in iBooks would be to be amongst the masses as a distribution fee. Meh, I say. Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Brian Bendis… all those dudes could make a pretty penny selling direct editions to their fans through a service like e-junkie.

NO WAITING AROUND FOR YOUR $$$… when you make a sale through eJunkie, you get an email notification and the money goes DIRECTLY into your paypal account. Period. No waiting around until you build up X amount or whatever.

#3 Comic Selling Affiliate system built right in…

One of the perks of eJunkie account is that you have a built in affiliate program. This means that you can set the percentage you’re willing to share with people who want to sell or refer your books. Here’s how this could be OUTSTANDING for the comic book industry.

  • Online retailers or brick and mortar comic shops could use your affiliate link to sell your product and make a nice cut. This would give them incentive to actually advertise and push Mark Millar’s or Warren Ellis digital editions.
  • SMART brick and mortar mom and pop comic shops might even consider opening their own “digital” keosk in their shop using ipads or what not and allowing in store customers to try out digital comics without trusting “APPLE” or the big brands… they’re buying directly from YOU, a retailer they already trust and want to support.

So now the tables have turned… and instead of APPLE or other big brands taking a cut from you, you, the creator are now giving a cut to retailers, comic bloggers and ANY comic fans who want to push your comics affiliate link. NICE!

This independent delivery system for your PDFs or digital formats is something I’ve been  wanting to try and I’ve kept this “plan” tucked away in my back pocket, thinking I wouldn’t share it until it worked for me first.  In reality, I don’t have the audience size to make it cause a splash or revolution, but if one of these bigger named dudes in comics like Mark Millar or Warren Ellis or Brian Bendis used this system…. well, they’d pretty much OWN and redefine how you get your favorite comics. Everyone WINS. Creators, retailers, readers.  (email me if you want to pick my brain)

#4 What if?

The more hands in the cookie jar, the less crumbs for everyone… but imagine if a group of these big names got together under ONE ejunkie.com account? I mean, you could go to one site and there were digital comics by that group of creators you like… Kirkman, Ellis, Bendis… whatever. It might be like the IMAGE COMICS of digital comics… breaking away from all that other stuff. Just a thought.

I know there are arguments about wanting to be listed among other comic creators and services like iBooks or Amazon Kindle… don’t be stupid,  why not try a little of both? If you DO happen to have a digital version up on those services, make sure it links back to your web address inside for plugs or ads like DJCOFFMAN.COM – then when people come back to MARKMILLARSKICKASSCOMICS.COM they’ll see he has TONS of stuff available direct that’s exclusive to his site. Or wouldn’t this be a GREAT way to get a version of that new mag he’s doing in the UK? Hells yes! I’d buy it right now through that sort of system.

I hope this info helps other independent creators or puts some new possibilities into motion. LONG LIVE THE COMICS!

PLUG: If you’re a cartoonist or illustrator who’d like to learn more about earning more with your work outside of comics, check out my ebook and coaching program Cash for Cartoonists” on sale now for $25

5 Comments

  1. DJ Coffman – love your article and the e-junkie variation provides some nice new options. The affiliate system alone might be worth the cash and the PDF stamping, though not my cup of tea, is pretty reasonable form of DRM.

    I wrote the NOT .99 method – two quick corrections…

    1) A PayPal SMS donation is billed as a “personal transfer” which carries no surcharge. I love PayPal micropayments, but free is generally preferable.
    2) You say I “only hope that other people won’t share the download link,” but I actively hope people DO share the download link. From the consumer’s standpoint, if you can’t loan your purchase to a friend – you don’t own it and you shouldn’t pay like you do.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Brett – the SMS thing is intriguing, but I still feel it’s a very small niche of people or creates too many barriers for a new reader. It totally works if you market it to the zone of people who have paypal accounts and like to try new things on their cellphones. What I mean by that is, when you’re selling something you want there to be as less hurdles or hoops to jump through.

    Hoop #1 – A reader would have to have a paypal account or trust paypal. This isn’t a BIGGIE to me, it was maybe 10 years ago, but nowadays it seems most online shoppers have paypal accounts and trust it.

    Hoop #2 – A reader must understand SMS texting AND trust that they’re sending something through text and TRUST that they’re not going to get some odd text bill on their phone bill. This is probably at the level of “trust” that paypal was for readers a decade ago.

    So there are two trust hoops there that narrow down a willing paying audience. From all I’ve learned it’s best to give someone ONE hoop to jump through, and that’s either “enter your credit card info” or “login via paypal”

    That’s why Ejunkie is so nice because it allows people to pay via credit card, paypal… but then shoots the money direct to your paypal regardless. Of course you are paying minor fees for this “trust” luxury, but I guarantee more sales with less hoops to jump through.

    BTW, enjoying your Sqwirtz comic. Great cartooning.

    Reply
  3. Hey DJ,

    Long time no message board talk :)

    Linked and read to this other day from The Beat, and was stoked to find not one but two DIY options to digital solutions… I was really excited about your recommendation for Ejunkie, but then looked at pricing, and found it’s pretty similar to PayLoadz (which I already use).
    The cheapest Ejunkie option only gets you 50MB of storage, or content (50MB?!!??!), so you’d pretty much have to step up to the $18 you host it option to run any kind of multiple content offerings. Which puts you pretty much in the same space cost wise as PayLoadz.

    But I’ll keep assesing things, as I do need to keep working this out and get my stuff going more digitally.

    Reply
  4. Great post! You mentioned a want for a group of artists to get together to sell digital comics – I’m setting up just the thing. It’s called The Illustrated Section and it is at http://theillustratedsection.com. It officially launches Monday (Jan. 24). There is already a good group of webcomic and picture book artists involved, and it will be open to all independent creators. I’m hoping it will be just what you described – a place where artists can come together on one site, and be a good additional place to sell content other than your own personal site. I’d love for you to take a look once it goes up next week.

    Reply
  5. @Jason – Yeah, twitter and facebook have kinda replaced message boards and blogs for me :) – 50 MB of storage is pretty good for E-goods. A typical text e-book is generally around 1.5MB — a collection of images like a comic book would be no greater than 4-5MB but i’ve seen digital comics around 1.5-2MB as well. If $5 a month gets allows you to sell 20 issues of something, that’s a pretty great deal! Then as you grow and are busy, you can upgrade to the higher costs and even do self hosting of your own files if you wish. It’s really nice to automate and put it on ejunkie and forget. :) – Payloadz is great, but not as many options as you get with ejunkie.

    @Dani, I’m going to shoot you an email, but that looks pretty great. Also, fantastic cartooning there!

    Reply

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