Protecting Your Dreams

Analysis and Results of the Great Independent Comic Survey, Part 1

Added on by Gamal Hennessy.

Early this year, I wondered if the independent comics industry was ready for an independent merchandise platform (See Do You Want to Create Merchandise for Your Comics?). During the spring, I created a business model that would fulfill this theoretical need and discussed its’ potential. (See The Magic in a Batman T-Shirt).  Over the summer, I set up a survey to test the market and see if conditions were favorable for launching such a venture (See The Great Independent Comics Survey). Now that New York Comic Con is just around the corner, I’d like to share the results with you. While they don’t support my business model, I still think there are some important lessons that independent artists can take from the survey. This post intends to share both the results of the survey and my interpretation of those results.

 Methodology
Keep in mind that I am not a statistician. I don’t have a degree in marketing or any background in analytics. I simply asked ten questions to determine the current size and scope of the independent comics market. My questions might not have been ideally worded to generate optimum results. My sample size (based on the Facebook, Linked In and Google + groups I belong to) might not be representative of the overall US market. I just tried to work with the resources I had available. This is what I got.

I broke the survey into three parts; sales, distribution and merchandise rights.

Sales
Question 1: How many creator owned titles do you release per year?

Answer: 75% of the group releases 1 or 2 titles per year. This makes sense since creator owned projects are often passion projects that have to take a back seat to day jobs and paying work for hire gigs that up and coming artists need to gain recognition (See Entertainment Contracts 101). The reality from a retail standpoint is that more titles in the market provide more chances for readers to find a title and a story they like. If the one title available doesn’t suit them, the reader has to move on to another book.

Answer Choices
Responses
1-2
76.67%
3-4
10%
4-5
3.33%
5+
10%

Question 2: How many issues do you release for each title per year?

Answer: 87% of the group releases 1-4 four issues of each title per year. This reduces the market entry points for independent artists even further, because readers used to monthly offerings in the mainstream comics market are more likely to turn away from or forget a book that comes out quarterly or annually. While it might not be realistic given the time constraints, more issues of a title can raise the profile of the title as a whole.

Answer Choices
Responses
1-4
86.67%
4-8
6.67%
8-12
3.33%
12+
3.33%

Question 3: How many copies per year do you sell for each creator owned title?

Answer: 53% sell less than 100 copies, 23% sell less than 250 copies. This could be the result of many factors, but depending on the price point of each book, this suggests that many creator owned books lose money and do not recoup their initial investment.

Answer Choices
Responses
0-100
53.33%
101-250
23.33%
251-500
10%
501-750
6.67%
750-1,000
6.67%
1000-3,000
0%
3,000+
0%

Question 4: What is the average number of copies that you sell per month?

Answer: 83% stated that they sold an average of less than 50 copies per month. This question is an elaboration of question 3 that reinforces the idea that the overall sales of independent books have a lot of room for growth.

Answer Choices
Responses
0-50
82.76%
100-150
3.45%
150-200
3.45%
200+
0%
51-75
10.34%
76-100
0%

My next post will look at the distribution and merchandise aspects of the survey.


Have fun.
Gamal