Tom Richmond makes the case against internet piracy of comics. And of course one has to agree that comic creators and publishers should be paid for their work.
However, the typical reader sees no problem sharing comics. Most webcomic creators take advantage of this and offer their comics for free in hopes of attracting an audience. And with high per-issue prices, superhero comics and magazines are running into the same issues as webcomics.
The trick is all in getting paid for something the average consumer thinks should be free, or practically free.
Some of the jobs I’ve had have been in factories. And they always have some ridiculous and conflicting rules. “Don’t work too fast – you’ll get injured” they say on one side of their mouth while on the other they demand more results. And they don’t make it any easier on you by giving you better tools or considering your practical workflow.
Why am I talking about factory work? The practical truth is that if you set up the digital comic buying process in a way that suits consumers, you’ll have a winner. As Tom mentions in his post, something like an iTunes with $1 downloads seems to be the way to go for supers comics.
But what about webcomics? No matter how many readers you have, some percent of them would want their own copies of your webcomic. So why not make it easy on them? I have this idea to package up few months worth of comics in a pdf, add in a few extras and offer it for a $1 zipped download in the sidebar.
I can hear some of you asking… “A dollar?” Yeah. A buck. Twenty or thirty pages gets you a buck. Or about 3 cents a page.
It’s easy to set up a PayPal button and email the files to the purchaser. But I wanted to show you how easy it can be even if your file is too big to email and you don’t have any technical skills. At worst, the steps below will only cost you a little time:
1. install OpenOffice and put your comic in a pdf.
2. Upload the pdf to your free DropBox account.
3. After that, it takes only minutes to create a PayPal button. Then you can forget about it.
4. When someone buys, PayPal sends you an email. You send the buyer an invite to the Dropbox folder that has their pdf.
If a few dozen end up buying this year, that’s $20 more than you would have made than if they just browsed your archive. And that’s just the one section of your archive. Do this quarterly or by story arc or biannually or whatever works for you. And at the end of a year, offer a year bundle at 25% off (with different extras.)
Will this make you rich? Maybe not. Optimistically, you might earn $100 a year off 20 fans if you publish quarterly. But here’s the thing. Aren’t there vanished webcomics that make you wish you had a chance to pay a few dollars to have the archives of?
Some of your fans are looking to have copies of your work for easy reading. Some might be collectors or be concerned that your webcomic will go on hiatus and let your website disappear. Some aren’t even your fans yet. Give your fans a chance.
And the best part is you really don’t have to worry about piracy. All your archives are probably online already and all you’re really risking are the extras you included in each batch. You have a leg up on Marvel and DC, so use it.