How to survive by doing comics today
This is a post based on a conversation I had with a friend of mine, in which I explained what I think it takes to live of doing comics in the world we live today. It enlightened him in a way, so I felt I should share it with you as well, readers of my blog.
This is by no means a guide or should it be taken too seriously. They are just thoughts and are still to put to full use by yours truly — but I’d love to know what you think.
Any mainstream comic publishing is excluded, as this article was elaborated by me targetting the incledible independent potential there is in each one of us, and the . And I suppose your goal for now is not to be published, but be succesfull on your own.
1- Have a good comic
I can’t emphasize enough how important this topic is - but as you’ll see, not enough single-handedly. And while some of you will think it’s quite an obvious thing to say, most artists think that anything they do can turn into success. And they put a lot of energy on that, without much thinking, just to give up on it months or a few years later, without having really gone anywhere. So avoid that and study. A lot.
There’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” idea. A “good” idea is only good if you know how to explore it further. A “bad” idea can be explored in excelent, unimagined ways. But a concept can’t stand on its own if the artist doesn’t have the structure, the planning or a good sense of how to converse with the target audience through the story. Think of your project as a combination of these factors, make a steady basis for it to grow. And make a good COMIC.
2- Distribution - build a fanbase
Either in print or digital, you will need a good distribution method. I recommend Ka-Blam for print, and there are many digital distributors today, like Graphic.ly, Drive-thru Comics, The Illustrated Section and Mydigitalcomics. (don’t like any of them? Try the Not-.99 method). Have a website for your comic, a website you can advertise on the nets with a link to where you sell your comic.
All that because what you really want in the end is to build a following - a fanbase that is interested in your work and that will follow your every release, giving you some money that together will pay your bills at the end of the month.
If you’re doing webcomics, make sure you can get revenue in a good way. As I tried for some years and I wasn’t successful with that, I’m not going further with the webcomics subject, also because it is already well covered and slightly saturated.
Let’s continue focusing on digital (which today basically means “pay-to-read-on-your-e-device-or-download-a-pdf” comics) and print (on demand) comics, which I think are the best methods we have at hands today that can potentially generate substantial income.
3- Keep periodicity
Another crucial point. Because this is how you will build your fanbase, and how you’ll get steady revenue. This is why publishers release monthly titles for decades. And the most difficult factor on our equation.
The more issues of your comic you release, the more money you can get, because one single reader, in order to read the whole series, will have to pay you more. And your fanbase will only grow, release after release. Reader buys, fanbase growns: this is the cycle we all need to achieve, this is where the gold resides. This should be your ultimate goal. But it’s nothing without periodicity.
4- Other things that help
To get more exposure, you will need a blog, a deviantART profile and/or anything that make people want to come back to it to hear news from you. This helps the audience remember you and your comic in the period between your releases.
Adding extra material to your paid comic counts a lot as well. This consumer habit was established in the DVD era, and it continues as of today.
To end this post, I’d like to link to three very inspiring blogs on the matter that are further ahead on the “comics carreer”: , Spy6teen, reMIND and In Maps and Legends. Check them often as you can learn a lot from them.
And what do YOU think? Any questions and comments, write ‘em below - I’m really interested in your opinion.