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Selling Self-Published Comics Through Stores

edited April 2013 in The Toolbox
What I mean to ask is, has anyone here approached their local or regional stores about selling self-published (i.e. not available through Diamond) comics?

Several comics stores I've visited (Chicago Comics, Laughing Ogre) have a section for these kinds of books. 

  • How does one broach the subject with the retailer? 
  • What sort of terms should one expect? 
  • Would this more likely be commission-based or would I sell them the books up front at a wholesale price? 

Comments

  • I've done this.

    I self-published 8 issues of my comic book, CyberZone back in the 1990s.

    Yes, you can sell them on commission, OR, they buy them from you outright and they keep the product (which is how they operate with Diamond).  When they buy them outright it will be at a discount off the cover price.

    The upside to selling locally is that you are... well... local.  That's your hook.
    If you get a store that works with you you can make shelf talkers that say, *Local Artist*.  You can autograph them and help the store with signings at something like Free Comic Book Day, or so.  You can make up your own flyers to promote your book, etc.

    Likewise, you can help the store by promoting that your book can be purchased through them.  Stores love it when you help them advertise.

    But do not just walk into the store.  Every store is different.  They know their best time / days for talking to you (when they are not crushed with inventory / ordering / stocking / etc.

    Call them on the phone, or contact them via email.  Set up a time and meeting.
    You can show them a sample of the work online.  They can decided right on the spot if it is something that will work with their store -- thus you don't waste your time.

    Keep in mind the money won't be much.  BUT, you'll be in a comic store, racked with other titles.
    It's a good experience and exercise -- and you can print on demand.
  • edited April 2013
    I should note:

    If a retailer buys them off you the discount is often around 45% or 50% off cover.  It could be even higher if they believe the risk is high to sell it.

    In the past, I even added half-sheet flyers (half of an standard piece of typing paper) right at the register.  The flyer promoted and featured the store bigger than it did my book.  Some stores are even nice enough to *bag stuff* such flyers with their customer purchases because it's a promotion that works for them. (thinking about it now... I should have just printing on BOTH sides.  One side for just the store and one side for just my book).  DUH!

    The downside was (for me) after setting up deals with 4 different stores was keeping up with those stores and with each business model.  It can be rather time consuming taking energy away from your creativity to do the next thing.

    But, there's nothing like retailer support when you need it in the future. Being asked to help with a store signing is nice.  A bigger *name* artist might come to the store and they might want to fill the bill (if the store has space).
  • When asking a retailer to take and shelve your merchandise, and charge them only for what they sell, the term to use for it is "consignment".
  • edited April 2013
    Yeah, Jason is right.

    I wrote it wrong.  My fuck up.
  • edited April 2013
    I do it at several shops. One uses a consignment system. The other, my LCS, buys books at a wholesale price from me, and I offer to buy back whatever doesn't sell.
  • ... exactly what Jimmie, Russell and Jason said. 
  • The same. Also, when I do signings at the store I offer to sell their copies first.
  • Trevor is dead on, as far as selling store copies first. always.
  • I...you know it would never cross my mind to sell my own copies at a store signing. I have sold the store extra copies for them to sell if they don't think supply will meet demand.
  • I always bring copies of my indie and self published books to store signings. I gotta make a buck, too.
  • I always ask to speak to the person in charge of purchasing, I never go into a store without having introduced myself to them first. I find out from that person whether they are an indie-friendly store, what system they have in place (if any) for selling indie comics and if there are commission rates, what are they.

    I don't just think locally however, I will go through a similar process when going to conventions. I research which comic stores are going to be attending the convention, then I get contact information for them and send out a query letter to them asking what I would a local shop. If they agree, I arrange to bring some books for them when I'm at the convention.
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