How Do You Create a Budget for Your Comic?

gamalhennessy Community • Sep 10, 2020

Before you sell your house, beg your grandmother for money, or rob a bank to publish your comic, it helps to know how much money you need in the first place. It doesn’t make any sense to spend a lot of time stressing about cash when you don’t have a clear idea of the costs you’re trying to cover. Of course, prices change and unexpected expenses are more common than you think, but if you have a basic idea of your costs, it will help you focus your revenue collection efforts.

In general, there are seven types of costs you need to consider when you decide to publish your first comic:

1. Initial Costs: This is the money to get off the ground. It includes the costs to set up your publishing company, buy the URL for your website, draft the initial creative contracts, and conduct the initial IP review for your idea.

2. Ongoing Operating Costs: This is the annual cost to keep your publishing empire afloat. It will include the fees for your accountant, lawyer, website fees, and other recurring costs.

3. Creative Costs: This is the cost to pay your creative team to make the actual book, including your artist, colorist, editor, designer, etc.

4. Marketing Costs: This is the cost to pay for both your offline and online marketing, including your website development and maintenance, convention attendance, direct market, and book trade interactions.

5. Printing Costs: If you decide to distribute a print version of your book, this will be the cost to print physical copies.

6. Distribution Costs: This is the cost to get your book in the hands of readers. This will include storage and shipping costs of physical books and/or any download or bandwidth costs for digital distribution.

7. Advertising Costs: This is the cost to let your readers know that your book exists. This includes any paid online advertising, app advertising, ads in distributor catalogs like Diamond Previews, convention guides, etc.

These different types of costs represent an overall budget that will give you an idea of how much money it will cost to publish your book. Again, the costs you wind up paying may be different than your initial budget, but this will give you a baseline of the funds you need to collect.

Before you start to worry about all the different types of costs on this list, keep in mind five factors:

1. Singular costs: The initial costs are one-time payments. If your goal is to publish comics over an extended period, this cost won’t be a factor after the first book.

2. Avoidable costs: Depending on how you structure your publishing plans, certain costs, like printing, might not apply.

3. Managing costs: A resourceful independent publisher can keep costs low by utilizing various low cost or no-cost options for things like marketing and distribution (See both our webinars on grassroots marketing for comics).

4. Timing of costs: All these costs don’t become payable as soon as you decide to publish a comic. Certain costs are triggered at different stages of the publishing process, which will give you more time in certain cases to secure the funds you need.

5. Deductible costs: If you decide to establish a company to manage your publishing efforts, many of the costs listed above are tax-deductible expenses that can alleviate the overall burden of the costs over time.

Every budget is going to be different depending on your goals, creative choices, marketing focus, distribution methods, and other factors, so I won’t try to force you into a one-size-fits-all kind of budget here. One thing you do need to keep in mind when looking at these costs is that each category will impact your book whether you decide to pay for them or not. Some creators decide to skip everything but the creative costs in an attempt to save money. That tends to be short term thinking that can have detrimental effects on your book in the long run. Your book will require some level of investment if it’s going to have a chance to achieve your definition of success.

Have fun with your comic.