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Digital Comics folks: What do you think about Graphicly's decision to get out of the app business and focus more on eBook distribution. Anyone out there using their publisher platform for ebook distribution?

I've been selling my comic on their app for a couple of years (if you call no one buying my books "selling"). Their app could never compete with Comixology on a technical or content level and I stopped using it myself a long time ago. I'm curious about their ebook system but I wonder how many indie creators can viably make back the $150 entry fee.

Also, what should indie digital creators focus on? Getting onto Comixology? Spreading ebooks around on various device platforms? Selling PDFs on their own website? All the above? Or like me, sit back for a little while, work on your book and see what shakes out in the coming year or so.
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Damn, +Steve Broome, that was a great writeup of the cost issues involved in all this. Love how you projected the costs of doing it yourself for each platform.

So, after using it a month have you sold any books via their system? To me, making back that $150 fee seems like a steep hurdle for a lot of indie creators even though I realize it's not a huge cost and cheaper than printing a book.
 
I've only processed it for sales via their free outlets which are the website and I think facebook. It's still in the review process. I already sell my stuff directly on my site via paypal's micropayment system (Which I'll be doing a tutorial for soon) and Kindle, which has a remarkably simple conversion process via their new Kindle publishing tools.

As you say the cost isn't huge but it is when compared to the profits most people aren't making. For how much the R&D probably cost to make a system that does these conversions they probably can't charge less, but the reality is the people they're trying to partner with don't have extra cash to spend. It's a tough situation for them to be in.
 
Well said, Steve. I agree with what you said earlier that this makes sense for them from a business perspective. At least compared to continuing as a Comixology competitor which I think they knew early on they could never be. But, yeah, you're also exactly right that their new business model hinges on indie creators actually selling enough books to make the fee back and be able to recommend fellow creators to jump on the bandwagon and do the same. The market may just be too young and untested for that to happen for all but a few percent of the people out there.

If you're going to jump into a system like this you need to have a marketing plan to try to drum up enough sales to get that money back and more otherwise you're just throwing that money away.

+Anthony Schiavino definitely pop back in. Would love to hear your thoughts.
 
I'd be interested in seeing if indie authors who want to take advantage of this while not absorbing the cost entirely themselves (AND giving a higher value return) start doing more Dark Horse Presents-type anthologies. It's per title, so rather than 4 people each paying $150.00 they could all pitch in 38 bucks or so and get an 80 page book listed and sell it for +2.99 to avoid amazon's 70% ripoff. Doesn't seem to be happening a lot yet.
 
Great idea! I'm a little skeptical of the sales viability of most anthologies because as a reader I find them to usually be unsatisfying but this is absolutely a method someone should try to organize.
 
I actually think the anthology would work better for most people in digital form (although I admit I'm a huge anthology buyer, DHP is my favorite title and I bought Metal Hurlant when Humanoids tried to bring it here), because lots of things like navigating between stories are easier using hyperlinks than they are using printed pages. There are also potential ad benefits like having contextual ads based on the story people are reading at the time.
 
I'm jumping in here late, but this is a great conversation.

Speaking for myself and based on my experience using the service, selling longer form books is great but single issues does not fit in with the flat $150.00 entry fee. It's just not practical from the creators stand point. When you're competing with so many other pieces of digital content selling your book for more then a dollar or two isn't going to get you anywhere so now you have to move 150 units before you break even. When its time for the next chapter in your story you fall even further into the hole. These are not items you can bring with you to conventions to sell. It's one thing to work on a book for hundreds of hours and make no money, but making negative dollars is just not something you can do for very long.

To Rich's question about what indie creators can focus on- I struggled for a long time between the desire to give it all away for free in order to build an audience, or to charge a modest fee to not devalue the content. The solution that I ended up arriving at had me doing both. I allowed the reader to set the price. It was important that a transaction was made, even if it was for zero dollars. I didn't want to throw it on the web and add a "donate" button or something. I wanted them to look at the field and say- this comic is worth ZERO dollars. I wrote about that in more detail here: http://www.ericgrissom.com/post/17372650721/what-it-is-worth

What I found though was pretty interesting. People were taking the book more then they were paying for it. By a pretty large margin. The people that bought it though, they were paying more then we were initially asking (we had been selling it at $1). In the end we made more money then we had before, and had a larger audience. Plus we were able to sell a DRM free PDF that a user owned and could read wherever they wanted.

+Steve Broome I love that anthology idea.
 
+Eric Grissom That's pretty fascinating about the people who paid putting in more than you'd ask for.

I do think that singles or shorter works are better suited for buying thru apps like Comixology. I had once thought that comics apps would be a boon for longer comics works that couldn't find traction as webcomics but as a consumer I find I don't want to buy or read anything that's more than $2.99 via an app. Ebooks might be the next hope for us longformers but even in the book industry it seems like people are leaning towards shorter works that can be sold in that same $1.99-$2.99 range.
 
I've been working for a month or so on the idea of a pricing scale for digital comics. The premise is that the more people pre-order, the cheaper the product would get at intervals (every 200 orders drops the cost by $.25 for everyone as an example). The issue is that you'd need the digital equivalent of a promissary note, which you get through sites like kickstarter (which takes a fee, which screws up the pricing). It could be an interesting way to not only create transparency for consumers but encourage them to help market the book so that they could save money as well. The possibility of making their favorite comic or anthology $.99 instead of the opening price of $2.99 by getting 1,000 people to buy it could be enticing.
 
I'm not sure what the Comixology pricing structure is like, but before the change with Graphicly you were looking at making about 0.48 cents if the book sold in IOS for a $0.99 sale (after Apple and Graphicly took their cut). Direct sale through Paypal micro payments for the same amount got us $0.89 straight without any more fees to worry about.

My biggest gripe with the whole system is the fact that everything is tied to an ecosystem. The Graphicly news is a great example of the danger of such a model. Anyone who bought comics within the app are now being told the iPad reader app is being pulled from the store. Sure they can never delete it, but what happens if Apple's iOS 6 comes out and breaks it? Clearly Graphicly is no longer supporting it so you're stuck reading it in a browser. And how long will they really be supporting the web based reader? Seems like the new direction is clearly as a toolset and not as a platform in their own right. Comixology is in a great position, but really anything can change. Buying licenses for content is a bad idea.

Would have been great if along with this announcement, Graphicly said - oh yeah our digital comic format is now open source so feel free to make your own reader. You would include some API for user validation but otherwise turn it over to the community.

I like that Groupon type idea for pricing too. That could be really interesting.
 
Rich just told me this conversation was going on so I'm popping in. Ever since I got the news this morning I've been scrambling trying to figure out how this fits in with my comics business plans for the next six months. A few thoughts first:

1) The $150 fee is cost prohibitive to me for the content I currently have in Graphicly's store. Prior to this I was considering killing the free web versions of my comics and going solely digital with Graphicly. This would now cost me $500 to get four 22 page comics in their distribution model.

2) Despite my disappointment, I agree that it's a good business decision to change directions like this. Let's face it. ComiXology's been kicking them in the pants despite Graphicly having a lot of better features. And ComiXology has every major publisher but Dark Horse now. In essence, they've become the Diamond Distribution of digital comics. So it makes sense for Graphicly to shift.

3) However, Graphicly's done a lot of work in the last year to brand themselves as the digital distributor for "the small publisher." For this reason I've been a big advocate for them on social media, my blog and my work with CNN.com. Part of me is disappointed that their new model is going to be cost prohibitive for a lot of small creators trying to get their foot in the door.

I agree with Steve's assessment that for single issues, this model may not be a good idea. My next two projects are going to be 66 pages and 110 pages respectively. So I may be more inclined to try this model with those. With my current single issue content though, I can't see a way this works without losing money. Keep in mind as well that this is "untested water" here. We have no idea what kind of market penetration Graphicly will have within any of these platforms.

Does anyone know if this model includes a "guided view" reading experience? Or are the pages just imported into iBooks/Kindle etc. and you have to zoom on the panels manually? That could be a severe drawback when in competition with ComiXology.

Like Steve I could probably publish my own ePub. Or make a DRM free PDF and sell it online. But from Steve's awesome breakdown, it doesn't look like it will be easy to make that profitable either.
 
+Christian Sager The guided view experience is available when viewing the content on the web and Facebook, but as far as the iBooks version it's just straight ePub format. Not the best format for comics. Hopefully the new Textbook format they have will be used in future versions, but based on my comics that were converted there wasn't anything fancy.
 
Re: #1 I'm doing the same, if you give a lot away in longform/serialized content, the internet just doesn't pay for it. Now I understand why companies have always given limited previews. I have 66 free panels up of my comic (which comprises an entire issue of 3 panels/page) and it's just too much.

Also it should be noted that if you're looking to sell a PDF directly yourself, and you have photoshop/Adobe Bridge, it's really never been easier to create a PDF. All you do is put all the stuff you want in a folder, open it in Bridge, and tell it to make a PDF out of all the files. It takes about 20 seconds.
 
Not sure if anyone has tried working with iVerse and their Comics+ app, but my experience so far has been pretty good. They have a decent iPad application and the terms are very similar to the old Graphicly ones. No upfront cost, revenue sharing, etc.
 
I guess my question about Comics+ is the same one I have for a lot of the platforms Graphicly offers: Who are actually using them to buy and read comics? We know the hardcore comics readers are using Comixology. I started selling my book on Graphicly pretty early on and it became apparent to me that the only people using Graphicly were other indie comic creators like myself and a large mass of fairly unengaged readers that seemed to just be getting the free offerings from Top Cow.

Who is reading comics on Comics+ and why? Who is buying comics through iBooks or the Nook? Probably atypical comic readers but what would make those people try out an unknown book like "Nathan Sorry" vs. a Game of Thrones adaptation or an Avengers book.

There's so much device segmentation right now but I'm not sure how much of it makes sense for most indie folks to even try getting their books on at this point.
 
Hi everyone. Its Micah from Graphicly. Any interesting in turning this into a hangout? Happy to chat about our changes today or digital comics over all. Otherwise, Ill read and catch up!
 
A couple of points:

1) We have talked about open sourcing the reader, and will in the future via API.
2) We will not dump the web reader.
3) +Christian Sager any books on the system have already been uploaded to iBooks for free (we notified folks a month or two ago about it), and most likely will be doing the same for Amazon and Kobo. You may want to test doing a single TPB of the 4 issues
4) If you think about it, we are being more supportive of the indie publisher. Now instead of an app with X million downloads, we are putting content in iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, NOOK, etc which combined have well over 100mm downloads.
5) We plan to offer resources and other things to help publishers and creators do a better job marketing themselves and building their fan bases.
6) +Christian Sager also the directed reading experience? If a marketplace supports it (Kindle with KF8 for example) it will work.

The idea is that you upload a PDF, add some metadata, order the pages, build a directed reading experience, and thats it. At that point you just select which markets you want your book to go live in. Upload once; distribute everywhere. A much better longterm solution for indie publishers than upload once and distribute once. Then upload again and again and again...

Our belief is that we are providing the tools to let folks fish, rather than hoping someone walks into the market and feeds them a piece of fish.

+Steve Broome with our FB/Web apps, you can change pricing rapidly, and even the number of pages for the preview. We have seen folks be successful with offering (say) 4 pages of a preview and for every additional 100 likes offering another page or two. Or seeing pricing adjust based on sales, promotions, etc.

+Rich Barrett We see mostly non-hardcore people buying comics across the various marketplaces, and NOOK owns the mom market. In fact, for a long time, NOOK outsold Kindle and iBooks significantly. I can also say for some of our publishers, iBooks sells 5 - 10x what they were selling through our iPad apps. This was another reason for the decision.
 
Hey, +Micah Baldwin, thanks so much for stopping by. Feel free to chime in anywhere you feel appropriate. Unfortunately I can't do a hangout at the moment but if anyone else here wants to please say so.

I guess the big thing a lot of us are sussing out here is whether the $150 activation fee is something that most indie comic creators can hope to make back. And as I said before I'm also interested in figuring out what the comics audiences are like on these other platforms, being someone who has only ever bought comics on Comixology and Graphicly myself.

This stuff is changing every month it seems as you surely know.
 
+Rich Barrett we do think that most indie guys can do it. But, like most endeavors it requires hard work (not saying indie creators dont work, just that most are not natural marketers). Part of our mission is to provide the tools, the next step is to provide the support to help creators understand how to market effectively.

The current process is that creators put their books on Graphicly or Comixology or iVerse or wherever and assume that the marketplaces will do the work in promotion. The truth is that a marketplace's job is to make money, and therefore will always promote the books that make money -- just like the LCS.

But on the web, it is so much easier and there is so much more opportunity to leverage social media, google adwords, facebook ads, and other mediums to get the word out (at a low cost) and make more money.

The moment a creators says "buy my book on Graphicly," they are limiting their brand awareness. Put the book on your facebook page. Tell people to go to your facebook. Then have links to all the places that you get the most revenue (for the $150 its no longer Apple > Graphicly > you, its just Marketplace > you). Its about maximizing revenue and optimizing brand awareness.

Will you make $150 back on every book. Nope. But over time you can learn how to do it right, and hopefully, we will continue to give indies the tool to make it easier faster.

Here is a slide that we use to show the fracture in the ebook marketplace, and the opportunity we think we are bringing to indie publishers and creators: http://hac.im/HU5q89 We are taking all of that and making it happen with a single upload.

In terms of the types of readers? They are non-comic book folks. The hardcore mainstream guys are reading on Comixology. They have the largest selection of mainstream. The hardcore indies are reading on many websites and Graphicly. The non-comics and lapsed folks are on ibooks, nook, etc.
 
Great conversation!
I'm definitely considering Graphicly's conversion process for my next series, HIGHWATER-- but while my original plan was to release nine 20 page issues, now I plan on doing three 60 page issues. But I think that's actually better, for me at least-- the nine issues would have been $.99, giving me much smaller royalties from Kindle/Nook, but the new 60 page issues will be $2.99. Still totally reasonable, and a familiar price to digital comics readers, but it means I get a larger cut. So that works for me.

I see it as an acceptable fee, because I formatted all 9 issues of IM&L, close to 200 pages, for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, PDF, CBZ, uploaded flat tifs to Comixology, layered tifs Graphicly, and so on and so on-- and that gets TIME consuming. Seriously. And then a new ereader comes out, like the Kindle Fire did, and everything needs to be tweaked or reformatted, and there are so many things to consider. I'd rather spend that time drawing new comics and marketing what I've got out there.

I can say that Mike Jasper and I, selling http://InMapsAndLegendsComic.com , have made much more than what this $150 fee would have cost us had this existed when we started out. Even if we'd had to pay for each issue. Our sales on Graphicly were never near what we made on Kindle/Nook/Comixology, so I'd say this is a good move for Graphicly as a company, if others had similar numbers.

What's really piquing my interest is Micah's mention that they've reached out to ComiXology and iVerse about teaming up. THAT would be ideal-- a way to get into their systems without being a Big Name Publisher. Mike and I were lucky with IN MAPS & LEGENDS' Zuda history opening that door, but I don't know how things will stand when I finish the first issue of HIGHWATER later this year, for example. And I see those apps as an important connection to digital comics fans. Nook and Kindle are great for reaching general, casual readers, but if I want to be connected to people who seek out comics because they love comics, I look to the people who use the Comics( and +) apps. ComiXology mentioned a few years ago, 2010? that they had plans for a self-authoring guided view tool. Nothing's come out since then... so a team up with Graphicly seems perfect to me. I wouldn't be averse to them being a little picky when choosing which titles to accept for the app, either, instead of just accepting all submitted; if they want to curate for quality content that's fine with me.
 
+Niki Smith hi!

Another interesting fact folks - we found across our network and various marketplaces that, on average, people read 8 pages per session, but more sessions per day. They read less, but more often when its digital. I would think it would be really interesting to do an 8 page weekly (maybe use the Newsstand for subscriptions -- $5/month, but you get 4 stories per month), or give 8 pages away for free on every monday, and sell the rest on tues-friday. (rest on the weekends!)

Sales on Graphicly really varied, but I will also say that the ipad/iphone apps were less than 1% of our total revenue. Android was a bit more. iBooks, Kindle, etc. absolutely exploded in December, and have kept the climb through today. Sales on those marketplaces dwarf any sales that were done in iOS/Android at a fraction of the SKUs.

I have follow up phone calls with a couple of hundred endpoints (including some big foreign guys, and other comics specific apps) in the next few days. Hopefully, they will come aboard.
 
In terms of keeping product cost low, I'm not sure the direction shouldn't move away from apps and towards web site shortcuts and ebook downloads. A lot of casual fans do like the guided view but for those that don't selling it on your own site using micropayments works. For those that want to have that one-click feeling, they can easily create a home page shortcut to the website.
 
+Steve Broome I definitely think thats a solid way to go as well. Thats why the web/FB version is an embedded widget (like Youtube) as well. If you dont have the technical knowledge to build out a webstore or host a solid site, you can just use the widget to build an easy store in wordpress, etc.
 
Oh hey, speaking of which, +Micah Baldwin -- any idea why the embed widget won't work on Tumblr? At least, it didn't work for me a week or two ago.
 
Thanks for chiming in, +Niki Smith You're one of the big success stories of digital comics so far so it's good to hear your take on this.

It's really interesting to me that the Kindle and Nook have been bigger sources of sales than more comics specific apps since the competition for attention includes every bestselling novel out there as well as the more high profile comics it seems even harder for inde comics to stand out in that environment.
 
+Niki Smith because tumblr are stupid heads. :) They strip some of the javascript. Ive reached out to them, and will continue to do so in order to find a solution.

+Rich Barrett Thats what Im saying! :) Apple launched a graphic novels/comic section (we sent them more than 2,000 books to fill it with), Kindle is pushing comics as is B&N. They all see comics as a way to show off the devices, connect with moms, bring in people who read.

Non-comics readers are more open to reading most anything. They are not tied to characters or story lines or history like the collector. Most make selections based on the covers and descriptions...
 
Tumblr stinks, although I realize why people use it.
 
Totally. They may never step into a comic shop in their lives, or even go into a GN section in a book store-- but if they're doing a search and an interesting summary shows up, they'll give it a try. And in this case, "they" consists of hundreds of thousands of potential customers.

+Steve Broome I mostly see the potential in it-- so many users reblog and share existing posts. Imagine if a post with Graphicly's widget managed to go viral on there. Hundreds or thousands of potential new readers-- and not just readers, customers.
 
+Micah Baldwin Thanks for finding our discussion and providing some direct input. I'm impressed by your commitment to Graphicly's mission, brand and audience. If you're here interacting with us at 10PM, than I can only imagine how many other interactions you must have had today. I also appreciate you taking the time to make sure we know the facts and still have positive associations with Graphicly after the announcement. And thank you for your frank advice re: marketing and your own analytic data. The 8 page segment thing is a fascinating factoid I'm going to tuck away.

I don't know how I missed the announcement that our content already with Graphicly is now in iBooks. But that's fantastic. I found my comic in seconds. Immediately after I wrote my comment earlier this evening I scribbled down a note to try to condense my four 22 page comics into one 88 page package for digital distribution. The difference in pricing and traditional structure is still something I'm trying to wrap my head around.

If anything, your participation here has convinced me even more that Graphicly's serious about not just distribution, but also supporting & advising smaller creators. All the people commenting here are very talented individuals. With your help, hopefully we can broaden the spectrum so more people are reading their work.

I'm going to bed now, but in the morning I'll make sure to point my audience toward this thread so they can see the clarity you brought to our conversation. Thanks!
 
Hi +Micah Baldwin! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. I saw you mentioned making the Graphicly reader open source. I love that idea. One of the reasons I was drawn to Graphcily in the first place was a post of of yours about creating a standard file format. One the consumer could buy and then take to the reader of their choice. Very happy to hear things are still being worked on in that regard.

Are there plans to include the iBooks image friendly "textbook" version of ePub ( the name escapes me), or is that a format that is proprietary to Apple and it's own book creator tools?
 
I've seen a lot of mentions lately about giving it all away for free online as a webcomic and then releasing it digitally later. Where does everybody stand on that? I can understand that line of thinking since you'd hopefully be building an audience etc. But, there comes a point where you will have to start charging and I'm concerned that everyone will get pissed off haha.

Right now I'm toying with a few different ideas that I've started amalgamating into one big experiment. Some of it goes back to what Micah said earlier about the weekly consumption.

I'm thinking of:

Weekly - 12-16 pgs 99 cents
Digital Issue - Two Weeklys in one, 22-32 pgs 1.99

The first 2 weeklys would be free, since most Pubs give away the first issues for free anyway.

I would also offer a "full set deal" at Week 1 for say 5.99/6.99 which would give them the entire mini series automatically. This of course would be their best deal. I would also offer other incentives like free swag, prints, behind the scenes or short stories to those customers in particular.

I dunno, it may sound confusing but it's really not heh. 10 weeklys or 5 digital issues or a set paid in advance. The options are available to them, the choice is theirs to make. Eventually the "deal" would expire as well.

I feel like I've been trying to figure out so many different options for so long now that I end up going in circles. One big difference with me is that I'll continue to offer everything on my own site which means no DRM, no rental bs and I'll start building a database of customers to work from...
 
+Christian Sager thanks for the kind words. Our news went out at 6am PST, and its now 7p PST, and other than fixing my bed that my dogs broke by jumping on it (for the 1 millionth time!), Ive been answering email, tweets, phone calls, etc. I am very encouraged by the amount of dialogue. Its important and shows that creators understand that creation is only 1/2 of the game in today's world. The other half is growing a fan base through mass distribution and direct interaction.

We just want to make that 1/2 easier. We havent done it yet, but we hope to get better at it every day!

Always available for a direct conversation - micah@graphicly.com/ 720-231-7120 cell / micahb@gmail.com is my Gtalk.
 
+Niki Smith hi Nikki! Are you embedding the widget inside a tumblr post? If so, the last time I tried it wouldn't work either. Tumblr is actually stripping out the JavaScript. What I did was add the Graphicly embed code at the template level. This works out well. Aside from the standard reader widget, Graphcily has a smaller one that fits nicely in a sidebar.
 
+Eric Grissom We will support the files coming out of Apple's iBook Author soon. And as ePub3 comes online for other marketplaces, we will allow for audio, video, text expansion, etc. within the tool and books. But the format we convert for iBooks is the standard iBooks file format.

+Adam Geen would love to hear how that turns out!
 
+Eric Grissom Ooh, that's a great idea; I hadn't thought about the template. I'll have to tinker with that this weekend. Thanks for the tip!
 
+Micah Baldwin I am a tiny bit confused with what is happening to the Graphicly marketplace. What I am currently most interested in is the free option of publishing to the Web and Facebook. Does this mean will only be able to embed our comics from now on or will they still be put on the Graphicly webstore?
 
+Jin Chan Yum Wai They will still be on the web store. The only thing that is going away is the iOS marketplace app and the Android marketplace app.
 
since I have your attention, what do you think about a subscription model vs. per unit? Like $25/month lets you convert say 3 books a month. I dunno, something like that.
 
+Micah Baldwin Thanks for clearing that up! I completely agree with your statement about "there should be only one shop front for digital comics" if you can work out something with Comixology that would be amazing.
 
+Micah Baldwin i think the subscription option like that would be great. So you could pay a flat fee of $150 or sign up for the $25 a month fee. This way starting out the initial cost to get a series started is lower. I think that would be quite good, 
 
Yeah, could help people manage expenses better. Maybe there is a page limit or something...
 
+Micah Baldwin you could have it set up, well like a payment plan I guess. $150 dollars converts one book, or you pay a monthly fee of $25 until you accrue something like $200 or whatever, some fee that's higher then the initial $150 so Graphicly makes something for splitting up the payment. Once the amount is hit then the creator owns it. I don't know, maybe I'm overcomplicating it. 
 
interesting. We also are going to set it up where you can just apply sales to conversion, so maybe its a mix of that...I dunno.
 
+Micah Baldwin You could make it so as long as you are paying the subscription fee you get 100% of the profits. But if you fail to pay for the next month the profits of whatever you sell will split 50-50 between yourself and graphicly. Or something along those lines.
 
It really is a fascinating time. So many variables and lots to balance. You have to make sure that:

1) the initial price of entry is not more then the likely earnings.

2) that Graphicly makes a profit. I know with my own book many Graphicly employees put a lot of hard work into converting it. Given my sales the money Graphicly kept certainly wouldn't have covered the cost by a long shot.

3) the creator ends up owning the content.

I like the idea of a monthly fee, but it has to be set up so that you can't sign up then cancel your account and expect of walk away with the ePub docs. Conversely you don't want to market your books and lose everything the month you stop paying a fee.

$150 is a great proce and completely reasonable fee for products that are more evergreen. Collected editions and not so much issue #3 of 6. Maybe it just speaks to a bigger problem, that selling 22 page episodic content- in this manner- is no longer the best approach.
 
Speaking on the idea of idea of an anthology, maybe someone needs to start up a http://www.humblebundle.com/ or http://theindiebundle.com/ for digital comics. Offer a bundle of drm free PDFs or CBZs with more rewards for exceeding the average.

On the idea of alternate pricing models like Steve Broome mentions, I am surprised we haven't seen someone try a falling price model though the bundles do something similar. Initially for 30 days or so the price is set. After the locked price period, the price is unlocked. From that point on the price will fluctuate daily based off the previous days sales. If there are no sales then the price slowly falls and when people start buying the price starts working back up. Prices could go down by as little as a penny and jump by a percentage based off that day's sales.

As far as the rest, I only consume and don't create so not sure my opnion matters much especially since I know I am not your average consumer.
 
+Micah Baldwin oh I missed that. When you say you would "apply sales to conversion". Does that mean you are considering an option where someone could use the tools, pay zero dollars, and all sales up until the fee was met would go to Graphicly, or am I reading that wrong? Thanks.
 
Man, I stepped away for a little while to work on my comic and watch a little Friday Night Lights on Netflix and this thread just exploded. Thanks again to everyone for contributing and to Micah Baldwin for taking the time.

These different options for "buying" into this program could really be a winner for getting more people involved. This latest option of needing to meet a sales threshold in order to begin receiving profits would be a pretty feasible way for people to especially get smaller works in there. Seems like that holds more potential for loss to Graphicly though because the majority of those people would make somewhere around 0 in sales but Graphicly would still need to spend the man hour time to produce the digital files.

I kind of like the idea of there being SOME sort of barrier for entry into a program though. Like +Niki Smith said earlier curation can be pretty desirable in a storefront. Readers have come to expect that from years of going to bookstores and buying books that have been vetted by publishers and editors and retailers before being presented to them. In today's world of digital publishing doors are opened to a lot of new creators but the sheer number of product out there is daunting to consumers. That's something that Comixology is probably doing right even though most of us in this thread probably curse them for not opening their doors to us.

But something like Graphicly's cost of entry (what that cost should be to work best for all parties can be debated I guess) maybe weeds out those who are less serious about their product.
 
And +Christian Sager you're not alone in not realizing that our books were automatically in the iBooks system. I seemed to have overlooked that announcement too and it's pretty neat to see it in there.
 
+Eric Grissom no, that you could take some of the money you made from sales and apply it to your next book's conversion cost. Thinking there might be a discount in people kept the money in the system. (Have my business hat on.)

Interesting thoughts on the monthly fee. Maybe its paid every three months or something. I really dont think the $150 is that expensive, but for some folks it is. Its why we always want to have a free level, and that creators always own their own content. We have played with leveraging ads and allowing creators to participate in that revenue. Lots of interesting ways to make it work for everyone.

+Barrett Frazier We thought around the idea of a humblebundle type deal, but the hard thing is how to pay everyone properly.

+Rich Barrett there is definitely a desire to drive more serious publishers/creators to the $150 level. They will do the work to help themselves succeed. But, we always want to have a free level so anyone can become a creator and "test the waters" before diving in full-force.
 
+Micah Baldwin Exciting news. I think getting into Comixology is key. Without the Graphicly app, what are the ideal ways to read digital comics on the Android platform? Seems Comixology is ideal for that. For promotion, will a reader still be able to search the Graphicly site for content from the individual storefronts? One value added Graphicly could offer is recommending the best creator-owned comics on their site.

For the subscription model, it might work but not if you have to keep paying a monthly fee indefinitely or you lose your distribution. Perhaps you're not releasing new works that often and after awhile the one time fee would have easily made more sense. Doesn't seem fair like that. For graphic novels and compilations, the one time fee is best. But if you wanted to release comics individually first and then later as a graphic novel, the one-time fee is a lot. Perhaps for 20-26 pages, there is a lower fee but you must purchase a certain number of issues upfront. So if you have a 8 issue series, you buy the conversions upfront for that series at cheaper cost than $150 per issue. If its $50 per issue, you're paying $400 upfront vs $1200 overall. Then when you release the graphic novel, you pay the $150.

It also seems a short step to start distributing text-based ebooks from the storefront as well, like Smashwords. The cover is graphic, and words follow. Many creators who write comics also write or want to write novels. There's a value added if everything can be sold from one store.

-Grigoris
 
+Zeno Telos Graphicly.com/store will become much like Youtube - a place to discover and highlight great content.

Great thoughts around the subscription model. The old Rhapsody music model was that you got as much music as you wanted, but if you stopped subscribing, you no longer could access the music...interesting..

We can do text-based books, we just havent released the functionality in the tool yet. Its coming! (We can do it if you contact us directly...)
 
I hate that cloud-based sense of non-ownership. Before Rhapsody I was a long time subscriber to Yahoo launch, which was a similar streaming service. I spent two years ratings countless content, customizing my station, only for yahoo to close the program and sell it off to Rhapsody. I lost all my ratings and other personalized content, and was told that all I'd get for my trouble was a free month of Rhapsody as a former launch customer.
 
I thought of something. +Micah Baldwin -- what if, in a couple of years, Graphicly changes direction again? We can't really predict where things will go in that time. But if Graphicly's the one uploading to these distributors, I'm assuming income goes through you first too...? Or even if it doesn't, in the event that Graphicly (worst case scenario) goes under, would there be something in place that would give us access to our books on the various platforms? Like, I love the idea of your consolidated reports on sales--- Mike spends a while every month doing it manually for IM&L. That sounds great. I just worry that something might happen and my books would stay available for sale without me ever being able to take it down or get royalties.

Also, what happens if we pay the fee, get into the stores, and then a new big ereader or tablet format comes out? Would we get formatted for it automatically? Would we pay a much smaller fee for just that new form?

Oh, also- http://graphicly.com/partners/pricing mentioned that formatting for Nook Touch is included, but it doesn't mention the e-ink Kindles, just the Fire. Any reason for that?
 
I spent some time this morning sort of taking everything in. First off, much thanks to +Rich Barrett for starting this thing and everyone else that added to it. I know I learned a lot. If what I'm reading here and on the Graphicly site are correct- comics can still be released using the Graphicly tools for FREE. The only thing is, there is no longer an iOS or Android App to read it. This content is then turned into the Graphicly panel view reader that is available on the web and on Facebook.

The $150.00 fee is only applied to distribution over the various ePub platforms like iBooks, and Kindle, etc. They are also offering what seems like a very good deal- a $500 branded app of your own.

If this above is the case, I think it's completely fair and it's much better then I initially thought. Indie creators can release single chapters via graphicly- embedding on their own web and Facebook pages and then sell a collected edition via iBooks and Nook for the $150.
 
+Eric Grissom that's a great way to look at it. For individual issues, you don't need all the platforms. If Comixology came on board, this would expand that option. Say for a small fee - like $25- creators could have the choice of issuing the individual comic just on Comixology, and of course FB and the web. Then release the collected works on all platforms as you suggest.

+Micah Baldwin The YouTube model could really catch on. Suggested comics popping up on the sides with whatever your browsing, likes, comments, etc. Very cool. This gives people exposure to comics they may not have considered and thus helps promote each storefront. More interactive is great.

For the subscription model, I share +Steve Broome's concerns. Perhaps you just have to agree to subscribe for a year, and then your storefront continues even after your sub is up. Creators will have different needs at different times depending on their output. This could be in addition to the one time payment model.
-Grigoris
 
Something to really think about with this is how to properly price your books. Digital singles have somewhat of a standard. The big guys charge $2.99 (or $3.99 in Marvel's case) while the indies are charging .99 or $1.99. Digital GNs are a little all over the place partly because the page counts vary greatly. I've been pricing my 64 page GN very low at $2.99 to try to attract new readers. For the same book in print I charge $8.00 due to printing costs. But to go back to +Eric Grissom's point early in the thread, your customer's might be willing to spend more than you think. So in order to start reaching the point of making profits it might be smarter to charge a little more for your book and rely on fewer higher priced sales to help get you there.
 
I've been excited about the new Graphicy tools ever since they were first hinted at. I only have singles on Graphicly so far, and my sales mirror others in that they are almost all web sales and not from the apps. I'll still put the singles through the "free" channels since the fee is based on sales and not upfront. But graphic novels are getting pushed out the full range of devices. I'm not that interested in reaching mainstream comic readers so I need my books to be where the general population will see them.

I missed the announcement about titles being put into iBooks/iTunes. That was pretty cool when I searched on LOVE IS IN THE BLOOD and all 4 issues popped up.

My tiered strategy is still free webcomic, singles through Ka-Blam/IndyPlanet and Graphicly, graphic novels at CreateSpace and use Graphicly to push out digital devices. The new changes fall perfectly in line with that.
 
+Niki Smith If we were to disappear (either die or get acquired) its actually better for publishers/creators, since the files are not proprietary to Graphicly. Its not that hard to transfer the content (or give the actual file) to the creator for them to manage. Unless there is some legal reason, I fully intend to just give the files to the creator if something like that occurs.

The files will be future proofed. And as we add ebookstores, the books will be automatically added (we will probably ask the creator to make sure its ok). I can see there being "premium" stores that might require additional fees (but I have no idea).

Regarding the kindle: Right now we are converting to KF8, which isnt compatible with older kindles. Once we get that running smoothly, then we will chat with them about that conversion. MOBI is just not made for fixed layout, and we want to defer to high quality.
 
+Steve Broome agreed. its one of the reasons I never used rapsody, although I have become an avid Rdio and Spotify user. Havent bought music in months.
 
+Eric Grissom yes. I want to be clear on the branded apps:

- Android Collections - they are a collection of issues or a single graphic novel. THERE IS NO IN APP PURCHASES. This is not a marketplace app, ala the Marvel or DC app.

- iOS Newsstand - think subscriptions. Ongoing series work best. I still think the winner here is a single monthly subscription, but short weekly stories or stories pieces. Think Charles Dickens. Also, not a marketplace app with in-app payments.
 
+Rich Barrett a note on pricing. $0.99 or $1.99 seem to have no affect on sales. But, if you are doing ebooks, $2.99 or $8.99 seems to be the sweet spots.
 
+Niki Smith you are more than welcome. Truthfully, we are exploring a pricing model that allows publishers to just have the files. We aggregate everything because we are driving towards simplicity.
 
+Micah Baldwin $2.99 or $8.99, huh? I'm going to have to chew on that for a while.

By the way, this thread is exactly what's great about Google+ but that most people don't realize. Granted, I utilized Twitter to alert a lot of people to this thread's existence but we could never have such an in-depth conversation like this on Twitter or Facebook.
 
Man, this thread couldn't have come at a better time for me! Thanks for starting this Thread +Rich Barrett, and Thanks +Micah Baldwin for answering questions.

I've read through this entire thread, and went through the site. Seems pretty ideal. Are all of the payments processed through Graphicly? Or do the creators have to set up accounts through the each provider?

Is there a way to purchase the files if the users are not available to download them?

Thanks again guys!
 
+Bradwick McGinty we receive a single check from the marketplace and then give it to the publishers/creators. Basically, its a pass through (we dont take any of it, not even a processing fee ala Paypal).

Not sure which files you are thinking. the ePub files or the web files? Users can still buy content on the web and it will sync to the various devices, we are just not updating the various apps any more.
 
Thanks for the response!

I was referring to the files that Graphicly creates? I was under the impression that the Publishers could not download these files.
Is there a fee that the publishers could pay to get the files?

I was interested in sending out a zip file with all formats available for reviewers.
 
+Bradwick McGinty ah. yeah, right now, there isnt really an automated way. Of course, if you really needed them, we could figure out something.

The best thing for reviewers is to send them a link to either the book's page, or a link to the widget so they can just embed it in their review. Could be interesting to create a watermarked PDF for publishers/creators to send around as a review copy...
 
I'm interested to see what happens with it, I listed my books 'Turbulence' there a few months ago, and while the turnout hasn't been amazing, it's still a nice promotion.
 
I know when I woke up yesterday to an email from +Christian Sager on this change and how it might potentially impact our current +Graphicly release and the future projects we both have in-development, I had some concerns. But this thread (cheers to +Rich Barrett and +Steve Broome for building the momentum) and the direct response from +Micah Baldwin definitely restore some confience.

I'd rather spend the time marketing my projects than managing the distribution across multiple marketplaces and outlets. For me, the $150 setup cost per unit seems like a wise investment given the costs Christian and I have already tallied since first launching our project. And depending on how easy that marketing becomes through supported or integrated marketing processes provided by Graphicly, that time spent could be further maximized, so I can get back to creating.

Cheers to everyone for your questions and comments to further expand the information available here.
 
+Eric Steiner thanks Eric! Excited to be supportive of your efforts. You can put a widget of your book up on your big cartel site. +Becky Cloonan did that with Wolves, and it was pretty successful for her.
 
+Steve Broome oh rad! Yeah, I love the "youtube" model of distribution and discovery, so we built the embed early on and recently added a bunch of customizations to it. http://graphicly.com/widgets I think of them like "book trailers". I put the cowboy and aliens one on my blog - http://learntoduck.com/comics - and it showcases how you can add "extras," - audio, video, text as hotspots in the book. The other thing I like about it is that because we use Facebook comments, the widget could be on 100 sites, and the conversation is collected in one place.
 
Good stuff, I'll dig into it now.
 
(I don't know if this idea is feasible) but I think it would be cool if there was a subscription service for digital comics. Kind of like Netflix Instant. You pay $10/month and you can read all the comics you want on your iPad.
 
Subscription fee would work also but the problem will be how would the producers/publishers get paid.
 
Yes, that's the question. I suppose the artist would sell the book at a flat rate to the host.
 
I like graphicly and their service is nice for unknowns and small publishers but compared to the web sales, The people are nice and you can hit up Micah or other staff whenever which is hard to do at comic companies. I dunno if the fees on the new plan is fully worth it for like individual issue comics (floppies). I can only see maybe paying it if you are putting out a tpb or a collected or artbook and charge people like 10-20 bucks to help get back the funds you spent. Personally I think graphicly could or should have another plan to where if you do not do the fee but still want your stuff on the other marketplaces, they should take a certain percentage cut of the sales just to see if we creators actually see an increase compared to the web and Facebook sales or like us publishers beta it and put a book on for free......(if this was done they would crush other places doing the same like moglue.com). Also graphicly needs a gifting system and a cool looking site like comixology and they would be set. Like a scrolling tickers or a random book showcase for each time you reload the website or suggest random comics to customers this would be a win win. No offense but I kept seeing known books from Image and Aspen when I was on the site. Perhaps I did not visit it enough. What was troubling was when I stopped seeing Marvel books being put on the site :(

On a brighter note I like the new sales stats.... I actually sold more books than I though from the manual reports Ron was sending me. The downside is the money that I made through graphicly last year does not show up on the brand new dashboard...... I hope that they will add the funds to all of the publisher's dashboards

If anyone want to see my books on graphicly you can look at them here http://graphicly.com/vstar/bounty-and-pain (I made issue 0 free :) )

Now that graphicly made the changes final and I resetup my publisher account, Time to get back to working on another book.
 
Also publishers can skip paying the 500 bucks and creating books for ibookstore and android yourself for basically free but you just have to provide tax info ect... Ibookstore takes 30 percent and you get 70 if you do the DIY ibookstore route

Ibookstore selling
http://www.apple.com/itunes/sellcontent/
 
The web/fb is a great place to determine if your book has the ability to sell prior to spending for ebooks / apps. For publishers who produce and sell at high volumes, we are welcome to work on a hybrid pricing plan (reduced per unit conversion fee + rev share). We may introduce an ad layer that would allow for additional revenue for both the publisher and graphicly.

What would the gifting system look like?

The web will become more "youtube" like -- a place for discovery of new content.

We will provide more and more resources on how to market your content. We believe that we have provided the tools to "teach you to fish," and now part of the future effort is teaching folks how to sell that fish. No one can ever hustle your book better than you.

We are working on making the stats on the dashboards better...stay tuned!
 
Cool I saw the ipad under the 500 and assumed it. Thanks for the clarification... I dont know if you played pc games digitally Micah but a service called steam is like the heart and soul of pc gaming right now and they allow gifting to your steam account and or to your email so you can redeem it on your account. I think Graphicly can do the same. A redeem code sent to a person's email that can be used once or that book or book's value like a gift card so another person could experience graphicly. Or do the redeem codes so it get sent to a G+account or facebook.... This alone could spread the news. Me and a others wanted to buy graphicly books as xmas presents for others but there was no system in place.... :(
 
+Vee Jones love steam. We do need to figure out how to help publishers/creators market themselves better. 
 
Well People do know about the other books on graphicly but the readers/fans still will not take a chance on that unknown unless book number 1 is free and even if it is free they still have to find it lol. Plus the hardcore comic buyers that may dabble in the digital books use comixology and see if they can find it there 1st unless their device is not supported by them. So non indie-mainstream publishers have to go after perhaps casual readers who just want to read decent books. I will not lie that it is a challenge lol. The hard part is trying to find out what works/genres and price ranges so people can get your book and the next man's/woman's book. I have had success off of selling the 1st book dirt cheap before making it free and using social media and forums and ads to promote myself. So if you are a publisher on graphicly you should make your 1st book free after you get issue 2 on the site/app. Also the free book should be a full 20 plus page comic. A full free book is crucial. It really did help me.

Also another suggestion is a pull list for graphicly or a follow alerts.

I looked at my dashboard and noticed that it does have the sales of last years on there too. I am surprised that I sold more books compared to the other manual sales reports.

Yeah Steam is awesome! I have been using it for like 10 years.. I am hooked on it and plus you can back up your games on a disc too...
 
+Vee Jones remember that Graphicly's mission is to help you get your books in every marketplace imaginable. Therefore, there will not be a ton of work done on making the reading experience at Graphicly.com better until we solve the first goal. Part of that first goal is providing learning around how best to sell your content. The first step is realizing that people interested in comics dont only use comixology -- many, many more use NOOK/iBooks/etc which have a 5-10x the number of installs. What you should be looking for is not the hardcore comic fan - there are less than 300k of them left. Go after folks that will be intrigued by the cover and the description. There are hundreds of millions of those...
 
+Nitin Kumar Gupta Our rules are that unless its hard core porn, we will accept it through the system. Apple, Kindle, B&N, etc have their own rules that we dont control. We will soon be able to get more marketplaces, and if there is enough demand, we can find adult marketplaces as well. If there is explicit sex in the books you are using as examples, I would assume they would not make it through at this time. But, Deepka Chopra has Kama Sutra on iBooks, etc. so it depends.
 
A musician friend just alerted me to CDbaby, which is a Graphicly for independent music artists. Same concept - you go through them and they put your band on every platform imaginable, even physical CDs. They are totally dedicated to creators. They have dealt with the "single issue" by charging $50 to distribute a whole album and $10 for a song. Worth checking out. http://members.cdbaby.com/

From their website: CD Baby is the largest online music distribution company for independent music. We offer a host of artist services including physical and digital distribution, warehousing and shipping of CDs, DVDs, and vinyl, affordable web-hosting and design, a credit card swiper to increase your live sales, download cards, disc duplication, and more. [In•de•pen•dent: (adj.) Not having sold one's life, career, and creative works over to a corporation.]
-Grigoris
 
+Micah Baldwin, thanks for the reply. Those comics in the link are my comics on drivethrucomics and selling well there. I hope I can find other marketplace for them via Graphicly, there are very few digital book distributors that allow adult content. But there is a big audience, so Im hoping graphicly can take the initiative and provide a connect!
 
Ah Drivthrucomics.... I had no success with them :( +Micah Baldwin I heard that you guy got rid of the special features that publishers can put on their books now like mp3s and wipeawaypages. Is there a chance of that coming back or not? What if graphicly also supported the .cbr/.cbz file formats but watermark them with graphicly logo on the books so people can download the book off of you site but for a tad bit higher price so they can read the book in their favorite comic reader, do you think that would or could work?
 
+Vee Jones You can do the special features on the web/fb - adding audio and video (no wipeaways) - Will extend it to other platforms as they allow for the addition. We are looking at doing PDF/CBZ for publishers that want it. Just not there yet...
 
With the new frontpage on the web would it be harder for people to find the web store front?
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