How I learned to stop worrying and love the comic shop cut..

Working for yourself or for a publisher, chat about the business side here.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the comic shop cut..

Postby davidjcunning on Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:47 am

Howdy folks!

I've got a bit of a question and any help or info would be greatly appreciated.

Can anybody tell me what the average cut that a comic book shop will take off the cover price of comics is?

Has anybody out there actually gotten their stuff into mainstream stores?

Any good war stories? Things to be avoided or taken into consideration?

With Supanova coming up I will be launching my own comic company (Local Act Comics - website open very soon!) and it would be kind of nice to get right in the public eye and be on shelves in comic shops.

Cheers,

Dave.C
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Postby mark selan on Thu Oct 12, 2006 10:36 am

50-20%

Depends on the book; a regular comic with a $1-5 price tage will probably be wholesaled at 50% of cover. So on a regular comicof $5 the retailer is making $2.50

With larger book like graphic novels the wholesale price can be higher 70-80% because the retailer then makes $5 off a $20 book.

But its really up to the retailer, for example a comic shop owner may not want to fork out $60 for four copies of your $20 GN. Especially if there's no trck record. They may negotiate 50% wholesale price and pay only $40 for four copies.
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Postby Daren White on Thu Oct 12, 2006 11:44 am

My experience with DeeVee agrees with Mark's. Diamond pay 40% of retail and so anything above that really isn't too bad a deal. With the trade we did this year, comics shops went as high as 80% payment up front, whereas a couple of Brisbane book stores did 75% payment up front. Then again a few did 75% sale or return.

Single issue comics tend to get a worse deal. 50% seems to be the average. Defintely push for an up front sale, rather than sale or return. With a new comic that might be a toughie.
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Postby davidjcunning on Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:24 pm

Thanks for those numbers guys.

I would like to push for an up front sale but since I cant back it up with any credibility (as I'm just starting out) its difficult to build a case. I have a couple of smaller outlets in regional Vic on a sale or return kind of deal and if it goes well then they'll look at buying direct from me.

So far I've come across stores taking between 20% and 30% of the cover price for their troubles. When they start talking about 50% I need to start thinking about upping the price just to cover production cost.

I guess my next question is: are the readers willing to pay a little extra for the local stuff?
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Postby Troy Kealley on Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:48 pm

Make sure you're persistent in following up the consignnment sales - otherwise comics and money will just 'dissappear' - let's just say I won't be bothering with comic stores any more.

Oh and to your second question - no. There is very little in the way of patriotism in the average comic buyer. you'll have to make it competitive in price and quality to stand a chance.

If you're serious about the comic and it IS good quality (and if it's the one I'm thinking of then hell yes!) try your hardest to get it printed in the US and distrubuted by Diamond as DeeVee have done.
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Postby davidjcunning on Thu Oct 12, 2006 3:54 pm

Thanks Troy (and yes one of the titles is the one you are thinking of!)
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Postby Egofreaky on Thu Oct 12, 2006 5:19 pm

Biggest piece of advice if you're going to distribute to stores: Buy pre-paid post satchles in lots of 50. It's an expensive outlay, but when you're saving about $0.40 a bag, it adds up. Also, it's cheaper to send in pre-paid satchels anyway, unless you somehow manage to convice the post office to frank the entire lot as one (I managed it once, a $42 post bill reduced to $11.45)

I've found that it actually helps sales a lot if you're willing to offer both sale-or-return AND outright purchase.
Because you're offering both, people wanting sale-or-return find it harder to drive their own margins up on it (Come on! You're not taking ANY risk with the comic, and you've probably put it in a really shit location that no one looks in anyway!).

Now, I've found that there are pretty much only two ways of getting them to check out your product.
1: Talk to them on the phone, and convince them it's a good product... AKA Telemarketing. It works if you're smooth and if you've got some kind of cred, any kind, to back it up with... i.e. "oh, and Comic X won the 2005 Ledger Award for most amazing Deus Ex Machina"
2: Sending them a catalogue or brochure. This one is less likely to work if you do it cold turkey. The only way to get them to really read it is to send it in an envelope that's got the manager's ACTUAL name on it! Try to even make it look official... Which means printing on it, and even adding a little logo or something. The biggest problem with this method is getting people's names in the first place! However, have no fear, for about 12 months ago, I had a complete list of pretty much all the comic shops in Australia, which I'm fairly certain I forwarded to a few people here... I think it was meant to be used as a contact sheet resource for somewhere on the PF Wiki... Maggie, any idea where that one went?
Either way, I'm happy to email you the Excel file of it... Although, seeing as it's old, you may want to do the telemarketing thing the first time around so you can verify the info on it... If it needs to be updated, I'd really appreciate you updating it and sending it back my way.

With OzTAKU, I offer a wholesale price of $6.50 (ex GST... although this issue's increased production cost will make it $8.00) for outright purchase, and free delivery on anything over 4 copies. Most places end up taking 5 or 6 with that.
I also offer a sale-or-return price of $9.00 (also going to have to go up) on a 3 month consignment. There's also the option to keep the consignment going after that 3 months, which many places happily agree to, as I've stipulated that they're to pay the cost of returns. (hey, the copies weigh around 400g each!)
The RRP was $12.00 (ex GST, so $13.20 really)

It also helps having multiple titles, and ensuring you've got plenty of back stock, I've found.

The places most willing to give you a go, regardless, seem to be:
  • Ace in QLD (we love you Ian ^_^)
  • Minotaur in VIC
  • Polyester in VIC
  • Kings in NSW
Pulp Fiction in SA are also rather friendly, as is Shin Tokyo if you do Manga style stuff.
I've found the places that are least helpful or likely to take your stuff are Comics R Us in VIC (all 3 stores!) and Graphic Action in NSW.
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Postby mark selan on Thu Oct 12, 2006 6:23 pm

I don't do consignment, absolutely refuse to do it. I can understand consignment for high end art but i can't find any other commercial area that does consignment besides comics.

I can rant forever on the stupidity of sale-or-return.

Don't sell your product short and make it an option.
( I'm a little disturbed that this late in the game you are considering price - it should be considered before you start writing and drawing. your production costs shouldn't be more than 50% of the cover but be that as it may-)

Like Avi says, creditability comes with the pitch to the retailer - why should they buy your book; who is the audience for your book; what is the book like ("If people like Ice Haven they'll love my book"). To me providing the option of consignment gives the retailer the impression that the book is crap and won't sell.

With Sureshot when consignment has been raised i tell them why i won't do it. I then have offered them free copies with the proviso if they sell in 2 weeks we'll talk more.

I think I'm trying to build a brand rather than a single book so my tactics are different.

in terms of local stuff getting some compassionate; there are about 10-30 people who will buy just about everything Australian but basing your sales on those guys won't get you far. More likely customers will not buy your comic because it is australian - so you have to grab them with quality and price. However for cheap stuff <$3 some people will take anything, especially at conventions (offering a retailer a $2 is a waste of time). Some shops like Pulp Fiction will take less of a cut with Australian comics out of kindness but that leads to dark corners full of clutter/crap.
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Postby Laocorn on Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:26 pm

"in terms of local stuff getting some compassionate; there are about 10-30 people who will buy just about everything Australian but basing your sales on those guys won't get you far. More likely customers will not buy your comic because it is australian - so you have to grab them with quality and price. However for cheap stuff <$3 some people will take anything, especially at conventions (offering a retailer a $2 is a waste of time). Some shops like Pulp Fiction will take less of a cut with Australian comics out of kindness but that leads to dark corners full of clutter/crap."

You'll find those 10-30 people at Supanova ;)

I agree with Mark that consignment is a complete waste of time, unless you like making constant phone calls to chase up stock.
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Postby jpaulos on Fri Oct 13, 2006 9:32 am

Don't worry too much about petty accounting and business stuff ... try and look at the 'big picture' in that you are making the first step in what I assume is a long term life 'career' plan. Save your energy for honing your craft and remember too much time spent on trivialities is time away from the drawing board, which is PRECIOUS!
Your comics are promotional items, not your bread and butter ... try and get them in as many hands as possible and if it costs you money to do so then you have to accept that thats the price of gaining exposure to your work.
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Postby mark selan on Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:16 am

I'm not an artist so my mileage may vary, but in my mind you need to consider some of this business stuff - otherwise you'll burn through a couple grand putting out a GN or 4 part mini, realise the benefits aren't forth coming (ie limited money return or exposure/ promotion) and subsequently leave the field.

But yeah, comics are promotional items, for the most part they won't put food on the table (not in the short run) and you have to consider how much money are you willing to lose in producing them.
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Postby tonia on Fri Oct 13, 2006 12:26 pm

I wouldn't just try comic stores - some bookstores and record shops are friendly to comics and actually display them in a far better way and get better sales than comic stores - most comic stores either refuse to buy Australian or bury it so the sales are minimal - find the good comic stores and if you have a friend who can keep track of it for you so much the better (for example I do swaps of comics with a friend in Melbourne - he takes stuff into Minotaur for me and I take stuff into Rocking Horse in Brisbane for him).
Comic shops who support Aus comics and make sales are Kings, Minotaur and Impact - definately try and get stuff in there.
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Postby davidjcunning on Fri Oct 13, 2006 1:52 pm

Thanks everybody, I'm really happy to see this much advice coming my way and it is very much appreciated.

"I'm a little disturbed that this late in the game you are considering price"

I always had a price in mind that would cover production cost etc - I was just wondering if I could bump it up a little bit :)

I will be taking 5 different titles to Supanova so hopefully we'll achieve the kind of local exposure that I'm after. With a range of tee shirts also available (and more coming soon) and fresh titles/issues at each Supanova I'll be able to get a small following for LAC.

"Don't worry too much about petty accounting and business stuff ... "

I'm trying my hardest not to get pinned down by it all, but I can see that if I dont set it up right with an idea in my mind of what I want to achieve I'll fall flat on my arse get jaded and depressed. It wont matter how good I am after that.

I understand that there is very little money in comics so I'm hoping that the tshirts will help out a bit in that department.

Thanks again to everybody so far. Its good to see all of the Vets in one place lending a hand.
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Postby jpaulos on Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:59 pm

I'll fall flat on my arse get jaded and depressed. It wont matter how good I am after that.


I do some of my best work in that state!
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Postby Troy Kealley on Sat Oct 14, 2006 1:31 am

Heh yes we all start bright eyed and bushy tailed and soon end up bitter and twisted in this game!

But David & crew have a bloody good comic on the way - I think you got a real chance there mate!
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