To date, my feelings on ComiXology Submit pretty much echo the thoughts expressed by Heather L Sheppard here on this blog post.
I also would have asked many of the questions raised at the ComiXology panel at the NYCC which you can read here.
So far I am mostly very happy with what ComiXology is doing to help
me get my work out to a good market.
However, I support what has been
linked to and posted above, and I have some suggestions of my own for
The way I see it, digital media is going to change the playing field
for comics in North America, and probably for many other markets as
well. It looks to be ushering in a whole new readership who, while they
may like super heroes, are looking for and are open to different genres
and styles not produced by the Big Two.
It is probably safe to
say that historically and to date, comics have only reached a niche
audience in North America. And while other comic cultures in Europe and
Asia are of comparable size, I think they are healthier with more types
of stories and a greater, broader appeal. This makes me think that,
relatively, the comic audience in North America is only scratching the
tip of a much bigger iceberg.
"Indie" comics are the rest of that
iceberg and ComiXology is doing a fairly good job, so far, bringing the
indies to market. Besides a very good app and the cloud service, the
ComiXology Podcast is a great listen and a smart way to get the word out
to customers on new arrivals. But Submit titles could use a little more
push from ComiXology.
My first problem with ComiXology Submit is Guided View.
It is a nice added bonus to the ComiXology experience, but I suspect
it is also a crutch to the Submit system. Therefore my suggestion would
be to give creators the ability to do it themselves and have the staff
review it. This could open the floodgates somewhat for accepted creators
and move their next issues onto the service more quickly.
However, we need to consider as well, what would happen if the
floodgates did just open up. If accepted creators did their own guided
view and could submit comics more quickly, there could be an over
abundance of titles to choose from. Quality could go out the window, and
ComiXology could end up like the App Store.
My second problem with ComiXology Submit is a lack of statistical tools.
Since submitting my work earlier back in the year, I have yearned for
ComiXology to give me the tools to see the stats of my published
comics. Although, the things is, I am not too sure what the benefit
would be to having that information.
Sure, small creators could potentially benefit from stats related to
the comics they have published on ComiXology. But to be honest, if I had
something like a download counter, for example, I am not really sure
what use it would be to me. Certainly, I could see how many times my
comic had been downloaded and therefore bought on a daily basis, but how
would that help me market the comics I am creating? App creators tout
how many times their app has been downloaded on whichever store, so I
guess comic publishers could do similar chest pounding and possibly use
it as a marketing tool, but I doubt in the long run it would help anyone
all that much.
A download counter could however be helpful to potential buyers
debating the purchase of a more unknown title to see if others have
bought it as well. Seeing a download number next to a title, could give
them the push they need to buy the comic. Or if not a download counter,
perhaps reader reviews like something similar to what Netflix offers its
subscribers, could help people make smart purchases and invest in
titles that would appeal to them.
Speaking of Netflix, ComiXology
Submit comics are almost like a Netflix Original Series. And like
Netflix, ComiXology needs this original content to take off in a big
The problem for ComiXology Submit comics is the Big Two. DC and
Marvel Comics take up a massive amount of space on the store and this
makes it somewhat difficult to find different content from smaller
publishers. Since they are such a big part of the business, most of the
promotions involve their work. This pushes small creator owned comics
off the shelves to the back of the store, or as mentioned in the
Bleeding Cool article, down into the “basement”.
Clearly though, a different group of readers are buying comics from
the ComiXology store than the readers that go to comic shops. Many
ComiXology buyers appear to be interested in more than just gods in
tights, and clearly want different, unique stories to choose from.
So my third problem with ComiXology Submit might be ComiXology itself.
At least in its current incarnation. DC and Marvel have created an
image of comics in North America that has kept potential new readers of
comics at bay, and ensures that there is limited growth for people that
create “alternative” comics. I can see that ComiXology Submit will
change that, but baby steps are slowing it down.
Take for example large television networks in the USA. The major
networks churn out an amazing amount of dull programming under the false
impression they know what viewers want. But the successes of TV series
such as AMC’s Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead show that a large number
of viewers are actually greatly interested in unique programming never
before offered by the major networks. Programming that the networks are
unwilling to take a chance on. “Build it and they will come” looks like
My point is that there are new readers out there who have never read a
comic. They’ve never read a comic because they aren’t interested in
super heroes, not because they don’t like comics. And ComiXology has an
opportunity to change that.
In order to do that it needs to attract that larger group of new
readers to ComiXology Submit, and make the titles available there a much
bigger part of the app experience without pushing away the Big-Two and
the fans that they have brought with them.