John Mayo of CBR recently published an in depth article on how comic books sales are calculated by Diamond. He also modifies the analysis from index value sales to absolute metrics to paint a different statistical picture of how comics are purchased by stores.
While discussions about index value, market share and retail rank might not be the stuff comic creators want to read about, understanding who you’re selling to is an important part of creating independent comics. The Mayo article is packed with useful insights, but the most important thing to remember is the difference between the people buying your comics and the ones reading your comics when you sell in stores.
“From a publisher perspective, the buyers of the comics are the stores, not the readers. It is the sales invoiced to stores which determine which titles continue and which don’t.”
So if you want to sell your book in stores, you have to convince the stores. There are a lot of individual operators in the direct market, so you’ll need a strategy to reach them. You probably need prominent placement in Previews. You might also have to galvanize readers to ask for your book at their local shop. You might convince some of them to try you by creating a buzz in the comic book press. You might even make connections at conventions to build the retail relationships to get your book on the shelf. Whatever you do, you have to sell the book as much to the store owner as you do to your fans.