I get gamma male trolls coming to YouTube/Twitter almost every single day leaving absurd comments on all ranges of subjects to try to “gotcha” me by proving how much of a smart boi they are. It’s obnoxious on the best of days, a recent serial-negative-commenter is attacking my price point on books, saying “$3.99 is a ripoff” for a comic book.
Usually I wouldn’t spend much time dignifying such comments other than to tell the guy to eff off (now he’s telling me to “use newsprint” to make my comics cheaper – which would lower the print quality of all of my printed books and make no difference in my ebook pricing), but folk should be aware of the reality of comics.
Now if you look at Marvel/DC pricing for digital comic books, they’re ALL at $3.99 or $4.99 or higher. There’s a reason for it.
First, any digital distribution network like Amazon, Comixology, wherever will take at least 30%. So at $3.99, the revenue coming in is $2.79.
Then let’s look at the realities of comic book costs.
Average lineart cost per page: $75. (this is CHEAP. If you want the top tier you’re going to pay $125-200 per page).
Average Colors cost per page: $50
Average Letters cost per page: $10
On average, it’s $135 per page to make a comic. This does not account for the time value of my scripting, my formatting the book for print and kindle, my art direction time, which there’s around 20-30 hours put into each issue on my end.
At the bare bones for a comic – 22 pages plus a cover for a 23rd, that means the cost of just the art is $3,105.
It will take 1,112 copies sold even at $3.99 to break even for such a cost.
You’ll note my crowdfunds generally get around 400 backers – and the reason the crowdfunds have to happen first at higher prices than the digital issues later is to ensure we hit that breakeven point, other wise I’d have to come out of pocket for every graphic novel I’d make and I’d go broke really quickly. Even at those levels, I break even on the books thanks to my great backers, and only make any profit afterward when they hit a general release.
The digital issues, however, at $2.79 revenue per book, is a pittance for the amount of work I can do. If I don’t run a crowdfund for the book, it takes a good amount of time to break even and get the sales necessary to have a book be worth making and continuing.
Lowering prices as this guy suggests would only make that harder to do.
What it comes down to is these comic guys don’t value creator work whatsoever. They feel entitled to our work and want us to work for absolutely free. It’s disgusting, and when the guy tells me to “use newsprint” to try to make my books a buck fifty like Alterna, he’s telling me I should only be getting 4 cents a book in revenue – at which, it would take a whopping 77,625 units sold for me to ever break even on a comic.
That’s not acceptable. I’d never be able to make comics. Even X-Men struggles to sell at those levels and it’s a legacy brand with Disney behind it.
The lesson here is comics take a LOT of money and work to get done. Keep that in mind next time you’re trying to dunk on some indie creator. We’re doing our best to try to provide great content and keep afloat.
Hope this helps as far as an understanding of metrics.
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