Independent comics publisher, editor and writer David Hailwood has been successfully selling 100% Biodegradable, his children’s books and more through AmazonUK for some time – by far, his most successful online route in reaching new customers.
Here’s some of his top tips for making the commerce platform work for you as a comic creator, whether publishing digitally, physically, or both. It’s useful advice, whether you’re considering launching a comic on Amazon, or already have a comic on Amazon and wants to improve sales.
There’s a vast difference between putting your comic on Amazon, and actually selling your comic on Amazon. If you want to avoid having your comic sales trail off after the first month (when family/ friends/ current fans will most likely buy it) then you need to constantly drive people to the sales page. If you have a big social media following, then harness that. If not, then do what I did and learn how to use Amazon Ads.
Amazon Ads, which are accessible only to those who publish through Amazon KDP, either through Kindle or Print on Demand paperback, allow you to advertise in both the UK and certain countries abroad, so it’s a good way of expanding your international reach. My 100% Biodegradable comic anthology sells well in four main countries which are (in order of popularity) UK, US, Canada and Germany. You can also advertise in France, Italy and Spain.
It’s possible to get started with Amazon Ads with an investment of as little as £1 a day (and your ad might not even spend the full £1). You can also pause the ads for as long as you like, if you find you’re spending too much.
The biggest investment involved in using Amazon Ads is time. It takes time to learn how to use the ads system, and they do need constant monitoring/adjusting. I know most people would rather be just creating comics (myself included) than mucking around with all this ‘marketing’ business, but if you want your comics to sell beyond Kickstarters/ Conventions (when they return) etc, then it might be worth giving it a try.
To improve the chances of your comic selling, make sure it has a professional looking cover, otherwise it will attract readers eyes for all the wrong reasons! A decent description on the sales page can also help convert a casual browser to a buyer, as can positive reviews.
Although Amazon offers a choice of 70% or 35% royalty plan for the Kindle version, you will essentially be forced to choose the lower 35% royalty, as the higher royalty plan comes with a delivery charge (something like 10p per MB). Because comics are so graphic heavy, if you choose the 70% option, you will probably earn nothing.
The majority of my sales tend to be in print, where there’s fortunately a much higher profit margin. I also get very good read through with my comics (people who buy issue 1 will also buy 2-5), so if you have a series it’s likely to be more profitable (you could advertise just the first in the series, and rely on read-through to sell the rest).
Printing in colour is still quite costly (good quality print results, though) and will probably result in lower sales, or a lower profit margin.
If you do go for colour, then you’ll probably want to try and keep the page count as low as you can (anything from 24-41 pages costs the same; after that, costs start to rise. Which is why my Hotchpotch colour anthology is 40 pages).
Black and white print on demand through Amazon is dirt cheap (print quality is okay. Not the best I’ve seen, but also not the worst), and it costs the exact same amount to publish anything from 24 – 109 pages in B/W. So it’s particularly well suited to comic collections closer to 100 pages in length (as you can give the readers more value for their money, and it won’t cost you anything extra to do so). Also, if your comic is under 101 pages, you’re unable to have text on the spine, which is worth keeping in mind.
I hope these tips are of use, and if you’re interested in learning more I have a newsletter which is dedicated to helping fellow comic creators, and a few free resources on my website!
David Hailwood used to write whilst hanging upside-down by his legs from a tree. Now he’s an adult he’s apparently not allowed to do that sort of thing any more, so instead he sits at home in his office, cackling manically at his computer (occasionally he remembers to switch it on).
With over 20 years experience of working in the UK comics market, his brain-matter has leaked onto the pages of numerous comic anthologies, including Egmont’s Toxic, STRIP magazine, Bulletproof, Accent UK, Futurequake, Violent and Meanwhile. He’s had comedy material broadcast on ITV and E4, been shortlisted for several BBC sitcom competitions, writes children’s novels and edited the 100% Biodegradable comics anthology.
His debut children’s novel The Last Of The Navel Navigators was awarded a Distinction as part of his Creative Writing MA at Chichester University.