Episode # 52 – Self Publishing Digital Comics

In comics, selling direct by Julius S12 Comments

self publishing digital comics

Comics are being revolutionised by self-publishing just like the rest of the publishing world. Rather than ereaders it was tablets and excellent software that made digital comics possible. Even if you are not creating digital comics there are some gems shared in the show today, including an amazing way to sell direct to your readers. Full show notes for the show at http://rspcast.com/timg

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Episode # 52 – Self Publishing Digital Comics


Comixology Page – A link to Tim’s work on the Amazon of digital comics, Comixology.

Website – Tim’s beautifully designed website, worth having a look at!


Comixology – The winner in the battle of e-comics. Recently acquired by Amazon.

SendOwl – What Tim uses to digitally deliver the digital comics through his website (if you use this link Tim will get a small affiliate commission, which would be cool).

RSPCOM – Use this code on Tim’s website (click here) to get 50% off anything in your cart (valid through 2014)

Places to find Illustrators (for digital comics and more)

Behance / ConceptArt / Penciljack 

Show notes:

Tim started as a movie illustrator, but wanted to create something for himself. He started working on his own comics in his free time, and eventually applied for a government grant to spend time creating a digital graphic novel. He got rejected, but didn’t give up and applied again, that time they accepted him. You have to “show yourself to be worthy” and it’s competitive, there are lots of artists who want the funds.

Here is an awesome sample from Tim’s comic series Moth City:

digital comics

Writing the Comic

This was a great opportunity as he was able to work on Moth City (his main comic) full time in a relaxed atmosphere without having to eat through his own savings, or work a full time job. The government gave him ten months of money to do the project, but it has expanded, and he has taken on some freelance work to pay some bills while creating his digital comics.

Design and Writing Digital Comics

A comic book artist is both a writer and a designer, two skills that don’t often come together (see: plenty of terrible book covers!) Tim is a designer first and creates great art, but he had to work on his writing and stories and really hone that skill. He had friends who were writers look over his work so he can improve.


Exporting ebooks into all the right formats is hard enough, doing it with digital comics is a massive effort and takes a huge amount of time, everything has to look just right.


Tablets where really what allowed independent comics to take off. Print independent comics where never going to scale, but digital comics easily can. The original black and white kindle saw some comic book artists come and create content for it, but it was never the ideal way of doing it.


This company dominant at first as they were founded by comic readers and they got deals with the big publishers. Amazon was too slow off the mark and were simply better than what Amazon was offering.

In a display of Amazon dominance of the publishing space, they simply purchased the major player in the independent comic book world, Comixology, rather than attempt to compete. Comixology had the technology and audience that Amazon needed so they just bought it!

This was the first time that independent comic artists could really compete with the major players, as a comic book artist, you can now get your comic on the front page beside Batman and Spiderman etc.

Bringing Self-Pub Ideas to Digital Comics

Tim has been bringing some of the popular marketing tactics on Amazon to the comic book world. For example he has been pursuing permafree for his comics, which has been very successful. He has also been seeking out reviews (including professional ones) which is very important in the comic book world.

Apple and Amazon

Before Amazon bought Comixology, readers were able to purchase comics within the app. When this happens Apple take a cut (as they do for all ‘in app’ purchases). After the Amazon purchase, Amazon didn’t want to give a cut to Apple so started directing people away from the in app purchase to their own website to buy, this makes things harder to do, and it caused a massive backlash from the comic reading community – the app saw a slew of one-star ratings.

Direct Sales

Tim uses SendOwl to sell digital comics directly to his readers, this means he gets 100% of the sales for a small fee of about $9 a month. He can also create coupons that people can use to download the products. These unique codes are very flexible (number of downloads, expiration dates etc).

Tim found that at events it was impossible to sell digital comics himself as they as printing isn’t as simple as print on demand is with ebooks. Instead he came up with the solution of printing business cards with art from the digital comics on it (similar to the cover) and selling these which were like gift cards people could use to download the comic they had purchased. This is something that would equally apply to authors who don’t want to print up books for an event. People have found it weird to buy a ‘business card’ and he has had some people try and take them! Here are a couple of shots of the cards:

digital comics business cards

more business cards for digital comics


“It’s kinda hard to have a job and come home with the creative energy to do something else!”

“David [Comixology] won… and then Goliath [Amazon] just bought David!”


Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Julius SEpisode # 52 – Self Publishing Digital Comics
  • R.M. Prioleau

    This is cool. I want to get back into drawing comics again. While I agree, digital comics are the way of the future, I’m old school and enjoy seeing the crisp ink lines on actual paper.

    • SimonRSP

      I also enjoy seeing the printed art, but this Comixology app does a really nice job of the reading experience on a tablet!

    • Yes, there is something nice about that, and print comics still make up the majority of sales.

      That said, it’s fantastic that readers now have access to the comics issues published 50 to 60 years ago, or just yesterday, and for indie creators to have access to readers the world over.

  • A new way for web comics artists to get paid for the work they put up for free is Patreon.

    Have y’all heard of it?


    It’s kind of a slow-burn Kickstarter; it’s a crowdfunding platform that enables fans to pay creators on a monthly or per post/episode/etc. basis.

    • SimonRSP

      Someone recently told me about this is an email, seems like a great idea, and there have been some amazing success stories.

      Thanks for the share Geoffrey!

      • Yup, Patreon works well. But like onsite advertising, you have to keep your production and updates happening or it would die away.

        Perhaps a mix of that and the passive income of selling digital work via other distributors (Amazon, Comixology etc) would be a good combination.

        • SimonRSP

          Hmm, the mix seems great. Use Patreon to have you most loyal fans fund the production and take advantage of any early pricing/exclusive offers, and just make sure that the material produced is available to be sold elsewhere (which I’m sure it easily could be) for passive royalties later!

  • Good interview, thanks Simon & Tim. I’ve often wondered why comics seem to be missing the self-publishing band wagon on Kindle. I’ve recently noticed that kindle now has a comic maker app, similar to Comixology.

    • Hey Jeff, you must be talking about the the Kindle Comics Creator program > http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1001103761

      IMO Amazon lost momentum with the comic reading audience once iPads and comic apps like Comixology hit the market. Hopefully the recent deal between Comixology and Amazon will see most of Comixology’s library (including self-published titles) moved onto the Amazon storefront, and made accessible to Kindle Fire users.

      It’s great having an outlet, but the Comixology app is still (in a certain way) a bit like a local comic book store – inactive comic readers would never think of having a look around. More exposure among the rest of literature (ie on Amazon) could make a noticeable difference. Exciting times ahead.

      • I totally agree Tim, thanks for the response!


  • This report on digital comic sales growth just came out > “Report: Digital comics sales at $90 million in 2013” (URL http://comicsbeat.com/report-digital-comics-sales-at-90-million-in-2013/ )

    It helps give a bit of context to the overall market, which is still relatively small, but continued to grow in 2013, as opposed to e-books in the same year which apparently went backwards during the same period.

    • SimonRSP

      Wow, that’s great growth! Thanks for the extra info Tim!