UPDATED: July 24, 2015
Insane amounts of creator-owned and self-published comic books and graphic novels are being created every day all over the world, a fantastic situation for creators and fans. Readers can access all of these goodies anywhere at any time thanks to digital comics. The only thing you, the creator, need to do is put your comic on multiple digital distribution platforms so we can all find it and read it. Shockingly, I’m still running across comic websites that only sell from their website or are not selling digital at all, and they are missing out. To give you an idea, my comic, Satanic Hell, is available on Comixology, Gumroad, Scribd, Amazon, and iTunes.
So, you’re asking, where can I sell my digital comics online? Look no farther. I’ve compiled a list of all the main digital comic distribution sites below as a resource for creators. If I’ve missed any important ones or if you have feedback on using any of these platforms, let me know. I will be updating this list and keeping it current. Here are the digital distribution channels to consider with information on the platforms and the percentage of the sales that the creators keep:
Comixology (app, webb)
The leader in digital comics distribution and a prime place to put your comic into general readership. If your comic submission meets their quality standards, it will be accepted at no upfront cost to you. They currently have thousands of individual submit titles available. Comixology says the process takes 3 months but that can be upped to 6 months or more, depending on whether specifications are met or other issues. Its definitely worth considering. I’m a regular buyer of indies on Comixology and I love the platform. As they are now part of Amazon, its no surprise they’ve announced that a digital subscription service will be launching. Stay tuned.
DRM-free option: Yes
Creator Sales split: 50% (after credit card fees and cost from Apple, Google, Kindle)
Amazon (app, web)
Amazon is king of the digital media world and getting your comics on this platform puts it in multiple world markets, including the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Spain, India, Canada). They also own Comixology, so there may be an option in the future to distribute on Amazon if your comics are on Comixology. If you decide to use Amazon, make sure you format your submission according to their standards. For single issues, you’re not going to be making much, so its mainly for exposure if you decide to go that route. One way would be to distribute your singles elsewhere and then use Amazon for the collected version of your comics and price it like a graphic novel. Due to their pricing policy, it’s best to sell graphic novels or collections between $2.99-$9.99.
DRM-free option: Yes
Creator Sales Split:
Sale price <$2.99, creator gets 30%
Sale price >$2.99 and <$9.99, creator gets 70%*
*However, the creator must also cover credit card and wireless delivery costs, so the effective percentage is more like 50%
You can also opt in to Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s “Netflix” program for books where users pay $9.99 a month to have access to as many books as they want. The creators are then paid a share of the total global Kindle Unlimited fund based on how many users read more than 10% of your book.
iTunes/iBookstore (app, desktop)
The iTunes platform puts your comic in 51 countries and has a favorable sales share split for creators (better than Amazon). The sales percentage that creator keeps makes it ideal for both individual issues and collected works/graphic novels. This is a platform you don’t want to ignore. For conversion of your comic to the appropriate format, there are Apple-approved third-party vendors that can take care of this for a fee if the process is too much work for you.
DRM-free option: Yes
Creator Sales Split: 70%
Comicsfix (app, web)
Another Netflix service for comics that charges $9.95/mo for unlimited reading of indie comics. After Comicsfix covers its costs, its divides profits 50/50 with creators, with each individual creator getting paid based on how many reads their comics have that month. This is a new format for comics, so we’ll see how the profits work for creators. On Comicsfix, once a reader downloads a book onto the app, they can read it through the app at anytime as long as their subscription is active. However, there is no PDF option available. Some notable indie publishers are using the service including Dynamite, Asylum, BlueWater, and AAM/Markosia.
Scribd (app, web)
Scribd is monthly subscription service that gives users access to unlimited reading of books, audiobooks and comics for $8.99 a month. It’s like Amazon Kindle, Audible, and Comixology all in one. They have catalog from comic companies like Marvel, IDW, Valiant, and Boom, and accept self-published submissions. The comics browsing section is impressive and includes free previews which you can set yourself. To get into the subscription service (“Premium” service), comics must be uploaded through one of the following publishing services: Smashwords, INscribe Digital, BookBaby, or Draft2Digital. If you just want to sell your comic individually, you can upload direct to Scribd and your book will appear with a “buy now” option. The “Netflix” model for comics is going to be a major part of the future of digital comics and this platform looks very promising. By combining comics with traditional books, the audience for self-publishers is greatly expanded, especially when it comes to graphic novels.
DRM free option: Yes
Creator share of sales:
**Individual sale: 80% after $0.25 processing fee. ($1.99 comic = $1.39 for creator)
**Subscription Service: The exact amount depends on the publishing service you use.
-> Smashwords: 60% of sales, which are counted as books read past 30% mark. 10 partial reads between 15-30% will count as an individual sale.
-> Draft2Digital: 60% of sales, which are counted as books read past 30% mark. 10 partial reads between 10-30% will count as an individual sale.
-> BookBaby: 55% of sales
-> INscribe: ??? They are opaque on their payouts and I could find no info.
Tapastic is a webcomics platform for creators that combines elements of Patreon and is geared toward building regular revenue for creators through free content and supporter rewards. It’s trying to replace Kickstarter, Patreon, and platforms like Comixology with its funding and reading platform. Creators post regular content updates to their series. Readers can then check them out for free, subscribe, or support creators with a voluntarily monthly amount. Supporters can unlock milestone awards and creators can add supporter-only content. Comics are read by scrolling down which they think is better for mobile. There is also an ad revenue program and a storefront for individual sales. However, to take part in the support program, ad revenue, and storefront, a creator’s comics must be initially approved by Tapastic, meaning they are looking for quality. Tapastic also allows creators to add music to their series through Soundcloud. Tapastic is seeking to be a game-changer for how people produce and experience digital comics and they’re banking on scrolling as the future of comic reading. I have to say I really enjoyed reading comics on through their app. I still prefer Comixology for ease of use and reading, but Tapastic is doing something new. Check it out.
Creator Sales Splits:
Monthly Support: 85%
Ad Revenue: 70%
iVerse/ComicsPlus (app, web)
A platform similar to Comixology, albeit not as large. They also accept submissions, but according to their murky submit policy they don’t reply to everyone and they don’t say exactly how much they take from sales.
Pulp-Free Publishing’s app is a comic-reading platform that allows for easy publication from indie creators (currently available only for Apple devices). Not surprisingly, the selection of comics all come from small press and self-publishers with most selling for $1.99. The app is functional and allows readers to select a comic and flip through its pages, but it’s nowhere near as nice as Comixology. For example, it doesn’t list other books in the series when looking at an issue and there are no hyperlinks to other works. Due to a smaller membership, it’s likely that most people who would get your comic on the app are the ones you direct there. On the plus side, there is no review process (as Comixology has) and it costs nothing to upload a comic with their basic package. Also, each comic’s listing contains a link to your comic’s website (unlike Comixology).
Basic package creator sales split: 70% after Apple deducts 30%. For a $1.99 comic, that comes out to $0.98 or 50% of the sales price. A creator gets paid after $50 of sales, which means you need to sell 51 issues to get your first Paypal deposit.
Premium package sales split: you pay $99 and get 100% of all sales, after Apple deducts 30%. For a $1.99 comic, that means you would have to sell 71 issues on the device to break even. Given that, it’s better to use the basic package if you want to distribute with Pulp-Free.
This is a great option to sell a PDF from your website. Just link the BUY NOW button to your Gumroad listing and a one-click purchase option pops up with no log-in for buyer required. By using a service like Gumroad, you don’t have to worry about Paypal fees, credit cards, security, etc. They take care of all of that and for an excellent price. You can distribute free PDFs at no charge as well. The site also maintains a list of your buyers which you can email out too. I’m using this service and I’m a fan.
DRM-free option: yes
Cost: 5% of sales + 25¢ per transaction (So, on a $0.99 comic, creator gets $0.69 or 70%; on a $2.99 comic, creator gets $2.59 or 87%)
A service that lets you easily sell digital and physical files. You can link to a Selz page or embed a Selz widget to directly sell from your site.
DRM-free option: yes
Cost: 5% of sales + 25¢ per transaction
Sellfy is another PDF sales option like Gumroad that I’ve seen many comic sites using. And it’s cheaper than Gumroad. Just link your comic sales option to its Sellfy listing and you’re in business. No payment hassles. Another excellent one-click purchase option for potential readers of your comic.
DRM-free option: yes
Cost: 5% of sales
To use IndyPlanet’s digital downloads, you have to enroll in Ka-Blam’s POD service, which means you have to buy at least one copy of your comic. I would only use this service if I wanted Ka-Blam POD.
Creator sales split: 70%
Besides distributing digital comics, IndieComicsTracker allows you to track your comic collection, be informed when new issues arrive for titles you follow, and discover new comics. This is a smaller platform and I’m not sure how effective it is for sales given its new status. On top of that, they take 45% of sales, so there are better options out there.
DRM-free option: ?
Creator Sales Split: 55% (after any sales or coupons are subtracted from sale price)
Drive-Thru Comics (web)
This is no longer a great option for distribution. Drive-Thru was one of the original digital comic shops selling PDFs and it’s still being used, although less frequently. Its interface is dated and purchasing a comic requires the user to go through several hurdles instead of one-click purchasing like GumRoad and Sellfy. I would pass on using this service.
DRM-free option: yes
Creator sales split: 60%
My Digital Comics (web)
This platform has been around awhile as well and has some major indies on it but does not appear to accept submissions from self-publishers. It’s also dated and no longer a major site for digital comics. Pass on this one as well.