Strip Business

This post has business and tips and all sorts of goings ons…

  • If you’re like me, you’ve meant to personalize your Twitter background for a while now. Here is some inspiration and how-to to help get us moving. I plan to think fun, branding and providing some extra information.
  • What I’m getting from this article is that our endeavors to find an audience -whatever pursuit we find ourselves in- needs to include both approaches to individuals and groups of individuals. I’ve read enough interviews with successful comic folks to hear echoes of this idea in their thoughts. I find myself wondering if a blatant tagline lets your audience find you easier. It seems the more popular comics have some text that defines their audience for their audience and the audience self-selects. Adventure Romance Mad Science! This implies that one’s efforts to promote entails drilling into the keywords behind your comic’s concept and trying variations based on them when we create taglines and make banners. After a while, we may understand what the audience responds to and what they want. (Sometimes I need the obvious things spelled out for me, sorry. This is old advice repeated in many places previously.)
  • Thanks to the Floating Lightbulb, we can check the load time of our sites for the average user. I also found out that -due to a corrupted wordpress theme- this site sometimes comes out mangled. It should be fixed now. Also, we get some interesting discussion on webcomic site design. I think (in general) it’s crucial to have features that go beyond just displaying the comic and remember not to over-do them. I happen to think that Ill Will site is a mess to navigate, for those keeping score. Whatever your opinion, you will want to avoid  bored readers and letting the site look too much like evryone else’s. Now, I don’t know that I’m in a hurry to drop WordPress (with a new upgrade coming any day) just to style my site differently, but I do want it to look appropriate for the content I put there and not be a cookie-cutter layout. More discussion can also be found in the next article on the basic styles of our comic sites, too. You may want to also check out the known problem wordpress plugins list and maybe add any you know of, too.
  • I liked the Comics Reporter’s response to Todd Allen’s article on monetizing comics. I think it needed to be said, even if it came out a little strong. Clearly, some people and some kinds of content are better at working successfully in the online business model. Just as clearly, it has not been established what all the actual rules for success are. We know what’s worked in some special strike-of-lightning sorts of cases but we really don’t know what will reliably work for the vast majority.
  • And the Google hits just.keep.coming. Are you using the old Google code for Analytics?
  • And MPD57 gives his final stamp of approval to any of you Zuda cheaters out there. Sort of.
  • Wondering what happened with that Twitter worm? Imagine me saying this in Mythbuster Adam’s voice: “”Heeeeeere’s yer problum.
  • Bengo brought this interesting webcomic panel discussion to my attention. So that’s what Ryan North looks like, huh? No offense, but I didn’t expect the facial hair for some reason. People’s assumptions are funny, aren’t they?
  • I check on the various topseller lists to see what’s pop-pop-popular but this criticism of the NY Times list seems like it has teeth (courtesy of MangaBlog. The above article is in response to this article from Robot 6, if you want further reading.) It makes sense to me that Diamond would have little way of tracking anything more than how many copies of a book they sent out. How would they, much less the NY Times, know how many copies of a book actually sold to customers? The logistics of gathering actual sales numbers from merchants…makes my head hurt. If anyone could hazard a guess, it would likely be the credit card companies simply tracking the isbn who would probably have the most accurate tally of actual sales and they’d still not be perfect numbers due to missing the cash transactions. These numbers would still be better indicators of what sold on what day than what we use at present.
  • You may find yourself wondering if Neil Gaiman will ever do more Sandman comics, what his no-nonsense advice on writing is or if he will he sign something for you?
  • As always, there will be more Strip Business News next Tuesday on ArtPatient.com.

4 Comments

  1. oliver cochrane

    “The logistics of gathering actual sales numbers from merchants…makes my head hurt. If anyone could hazard a guess, it would likely be the credit card companies simply tracking the isbn who would probably have the most accurate tally of actual sales and they’d still not be perfect numbers due to missing the cash transactions. ”

    It may be logistically daunting, but many entities that track sales and create bestseller lists (for any sort of product) do indeed get sales data directly from individual stores. Obviously, they don’t track every single store, but they do get information from stores which they analyze, weigh, apply statisical models to, etc..

    It’s almost surely not the case that credit card companies are reporting specific items sold to some tracking entity. For one thing, as you say, that data would be of limited usefulness, since cash and check (do people still use checks?) transactions wouldn’t be counted. Also, I kinda doubt most credit card companies would want to get involved with the privacy issues and Big-Brother-Is-Watching hue and cry that would surely arise if they were routinely reporting such SKU-specific data to some other entity.

    When you think about it, any good store has to track its inventory. The store will want to know that it sold such-and-such number of units of Item X and so-many number of Item Y. That’s part of being a good retailer. Once you accept that an individual store is tracking that information, it’s easier to see how that store might report that sales data to a third party (divorced from exact correlation with the individual buyer, so as to preclude many privacy issues) who will then apply its analysis and make its report.

    Again, obviously no bestseller list or sell-thru tracking system receives data from all relevant retailers. But many of them do indeed tackle the logisical hurdle of gettng that data from some relevant retailers (one hopes, a sufficient number to provide overall relevant data.)

    Various bestseller lists (in various media) get sell-thru data from retailers. SoundScan gets sell-thru data from music retailers for its reporting. VideoScan gets data from home video retailers. BookScan gets data from book retailers. And so on. If comic book stores are now capturing their sell-thru data similar to how other industries’ retailers have been (and some retailer comments on other sites’ discussion of this topic indicate that they are), I don’t see why it would be difficult to think that that data can similarly be reported to an number-crunched by other bestseller-generating entities.

    Yeah, it’s a logistical nightmare. But there are plenty of entites that take on projects just like this.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Oliver. I mentioned credit card company sales data only in their capacity of knowing how many of a certain book sold. I, too, doubt they would share that information.

    While I am open to the idea that it is technically possible that comic stores and book chains could share their sales data, it seems unlikely that (in general) they would be willing to. I’ve known a few comic shop owners and keeping things daily in the black would be far more important to them than worrying about contributing their sales information toward best-seller lists. Perhaps the data collectors somehow make it worth their while.

    For my personal use, unless they are getting their numbers from all the big companies (which they don’t) and a good sample of small retail shops, I find it hard to trust their numbers.

  3. oliver cochrane

    “I mentioned credit card company sales data only in their capacity of knowing how many of a certain book sold.”

    Now that I think about it a little more…is it a given that credit card companies *really* know such ISBN specific data?

    I mean, if I go to a Barnes & Noble on Tuesday and buy Book X for Amount Y and pay with my credit card, does the credit card company really know that I bought Book X? Or do they only know that I spent Amount Y at such-and-such bookstore on such-and-such time?

    Obviously, the bookstore knows what exactly I bought and when and for how much and that I paid via a credit card. But it seems to me very possible that in the normal transaction process, the credit card company might only knows how much I spent and where, but not necessarily what exactly I bought. (That is, the credit card company might be asked for an authorization for such-and-such amount, but they might not know the exact goods and services that make up that amount.)

    At this point, this is very much a digression, but now that you’ve got me thinking, I do wonder about what exact information credit card companies routinely capture.

    “For my personal use, unless they are getting their numbers from all the big companies (which they don’t) and a good sample of small retail shops, I find it hard to trust their numbers.”

    I think perhaps the best take-away from all this discussion is a reminder that EVERY best-seller list has its own nuances, flaws, biases, etc. and that they’re best viewed in that light. In the specific case of this New York Times list that’s started all this conversation, the New York Times of course has had a book bestseller list for forever. If one accepts that that list is basically OK (which maybe one doesn’t; every list has its problems,) then that implies that they’ve got acceptable coverage of “real” bookstores.

    If we assume that they’re getting good enough data from “real” bookstores, the real question with their new graphic novel list boils down to how they’re covering the comic book specialty stores. That further breaks down into the sub-questions of (1) whether or not they’re getting sufficient amounts of good data from comic stores to make for relevant analysis (we know from retailer comments on other blogs that some comics stores are indeed capturing and reporting this data, but are enough of them?) and (2) whether or not the math they’re using to integrate the “real” bookstore data and the comic store data yields an accurate picture.

    I kinda doubt they’d ever make public the answers to these sorts of questions, but I like to think that they’re reading all these internet comments and are taking them into consideration as they refine their methodology in future.

  4. Bengo

    My experience as a credit card processor suggests that such data would be obtained by card issuers as an exception, not routine. A card issuing bank collecting consumer data for resale might work with a vendor IN THEORY to collect this data, but there are probably laws in every state controlling various things like this and it becomes a hassle. Our credit slips for bank use did not contain such data.

    The real action is with the store inventory database, both for compiling best seller lists and tracking consumer choices. They totally outclass the credit cards issuers when it comes to monitoring what you buy. Cardholders do break purchases down into categories, like restaurant, retail, etc.

    I’m pretty confident of my comments, but it wouldn’t hurt to double check them if you’re really interested.

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