A reader asked me on Twitter what the business plan is for indie comic book publishers.
You want an indie comic book business plan? You got it!
The Original Business Plan
The original business plan was very simple. These were our assumptions:
- We’d create top-quality comic books.
- We would only be digital. Thus saving the massive cost of printing and distribution.
- Comic book fans are thirsty for top-notch comic books. They’d be happy to find new ones. And once they do, they’ll spread it virally through the forums, the Twitters, and the Facebooks.
That was the idea. Since we were only paying the artists (I employed myself as a writer, at least at first, since I would work for free and I have 20 years’ experience writing science fiction), we didn’t really need a lot of sales to break even.
It looked like this business plan couldn’t fail.
Guess what happened?
The Tribbles with Trials and Tribulations
- The Test: We placed ads on CBR, one of the most popular comic book websites. The results: 14 visitors a day from CBR. Conclusion: Comics fans are wary of new things. Until we grow bigger, ads are out.
- The Test: Our comic books were reviewed by dozens of websites. One of our titles, Wynter, was hailed across the board as “The best sci-fi comic book on the shelves today.” The Results: No additional sales as results of good reviews. Conclusion: Positive reviews do not increase sales. (I’ve had the same experience with online marketing campaigns of my books.)
- The Test: We tried working with two popular comic book websites, offering their readers to send an email to get a free PDF of Wynter #1. The results: Very weak. Conclusion: Comics fans are wary of new things.
- The Test: It’s been shown that if you give something to people for free and then let them pay however much they want, they pay more, not less, than you would have gotten originally. We tried putting our Wynter for free at the website, as a test, allowing people to choose how much they pay after they read it. The results: Very weak number of downloads. Conclusion: Not sure.
- The Test: We were approached by a major Hollywood studio regarding Wynter, as well as by a smaller production company. The results: The studio thought about it and passed, the production company is still in play. We’ll only be able to see the results of this on sales after signing an option deal, and, even better, after having a Wynter TV show on the air. Conclusion: Don’t give up on Wynter. Ever.
The Latest Business Plan
As you can see, when something didn’t work, we pivoted. There were only two constants: 1) We ain’t stopping; and 2) Wynter always makes waves with people who read it.
Our current business plan is based on what we’ve learned since we launched.
One of the major things we’ve learned is that Wynter is consistently perceived by readers as the best sci-fi comic book out today.
Conclusion: Get as many eyes on Wynter as possible. There are millions our there who would love Wynter if they read it: science fiction fans, Warren Ellis fans, Garth Ennis fans, Christopher Nolan fans, Spielberg fans, etc. Wynter knocks people to the floor. Start-ups talk about unfair advantages. What we’ve learned is that Wynter is our unfair advantage.
Plan of action: We’ve got quite a few of those. The first one is already in action: Our old and new Twitter followers get a free Wynter #1 send directly to their email.
We’ve had 2,000 new Twitter followers since we started two weeks ago. Ten percent took us up on it. And this has translated into testimonials, recommendations, and sales.
Conclusion: Keep going! Get Wynter to be seen by thousands, then tens of thousands, then hopefully hundreds of thousands.
Is that a business plan? If we’ve got hundreds of thousands of devoted fans, it doesn’t matter what our business plan is – we’ll be a success.