Zorba the Hutt (zorbathut) wrote,
Zorba the Hutt
zorbathut

There's this comic I know called Tales of the Questor.

I've mentioned it before. It's a great comic. The plot is fantastic. The art is solid and competent - not fantastic, but it carries the story and then some. On my list of comics, it's consistently in the Must Read category, for well over a year now. Few comics can claim that.

And yet the artist is constantly scrounging for money. He has a donation box prominently displayed on the front page - nothing out of the ordinary about that - but posts comics every few months that are basically "I need more money, please donate". Not many comics do that.

On top of that, this person runs three webcomics. Writes and draws them all. Gets about one strip a day up, as near as I can tell. One of them is great, one of them is good, one of them I've never been interested in. Still. Three webcomics. Frequent updates. That takes some effort and dedication.

And yet he's running low on money.

Why?

Take a look at his shop.

He's got some CDs. $10 for a CD, and you get . . . the strips he posted during that year, on a CD. Whee. And "special art created specifically for the CD". And "notes of one Ennias Longscript, the only human to see the Seven Villages". How many notes? Is it something I'm interested in? How much art? Who can say. He's certainly not saying.

You can get cameos in his strips. I don't think these are bought often. I think I would have noticed. Hey, I could be wrong.

You can get commissioned art. That's cool. Except, as mentioned before, while the art is competent, it's not really spectacular. If I had to choose between art from this guy, and art from most of the other webcomics I read . . . well, I'd have to choose the other webcomics. This guy shines in his writing - not his art. There's nothing wrong with this, of course, his art is still better than mine. There's just a (relatively low) amount that I'd pay for it.

And there's a bunch of Cafepress options. Now, I don't know the exact amount of money someone gets from Cafepress. The prices change as people buy in bulk. What I do know is that you get approximately squat. Maybe not exactly squat. But it's close. It's similar to Lulu. You've heard my feelings on Lulu recently.

Oh yeah. You can also buy books, from Lulu. Remember that $45 trade paperback I mentioned? That's this guy. Sorry, dude. Your comic's great, and I'd pay $20 for it. $45? Not happening.

In both of these cases, you can, with a small initial investment, do the print run and shipping yourself and make literally multiples of the profit you would otherwise. And charge less - which means more sales. I'm not talking "one dollar less". I'm saying that you can, with a little work, easily find prices of $8/ea for good-quality printed T-shirt runs, 8 copies. Cafepress will charge $9 for lousy-quality T-shirts - $14 or more for good-quality. That's almost double the cost - as long as you plan to sell at least eight T-shirts.

Of course it takes a little initial investment.

This guy doesn't want to do that investment. Perhaps, of course, he can't. He seems to be living very, very close to the edge. But that's what pre-orders are for. There are solutions to this. Slightly risky - but only slightly.

It wouldn't surprise me if he could get published. His writing is great. But he'd have to find an artist. His art isn't good enough for the world of paper comics. It's adequate - not notable - and adequate doesn't cut it. This, also, would take work. This, also, would take a little risk.

There's the same problem with books. He could do a small print run, and beat that $45 price tag pretty handily. He could try to sell his product to publishers. I don't know if he'd succeed. But he might. It would take work. It might be a risk.

Sometimes, you can fail because you're taking too many risks. Sometimes, you can fail because you're taking too few. This is the important point I'm trying to make here. This is what this entry is all about.

But he is living very close to the edge. I can't honestly know if I'd take those risks myself.

Things to think about.
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