What is the Right Price for Your Comic?

gamalhennessy Community • Jan 27, 2021

By Gamal Hennessy

When a potential reader is interested in your comic, one of their first logical questions will be “how much does this cost?” Your answer to that question involves a delicate balance of conditions that is more art than science. While you could sell your comic for any price you want, some prices may prove more beneficial than others depending on your situation.

How Are Prices Determined?

Price theory is an economic concept that states the optimal market price, or equilibrium, is the point at which the total number of products available for sale can be reasonably consumed by potential customers. As an independent comic book publisher, your equilibrium price is the highest amount you can charge your target market to buy your comic. The price of your book should be high enough to make it financially worthwhile to publish comics, but not so high that it creates potential rejection by your ideal reader.

The equilibrium price is determined by the perceived value of your book to the target market. Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors Comic shop stated it this way in 2018: “A $3.99 comic book by an unknown talent on an unknown property with little to no promotion is too expensive. A $3.99 title by popular creators on well-known properties is a good deal. So when it comes to my preference on price, it's always about whether the comic sells or not."

What Are the Current Prices for Comics?

Each of the various comic formats has price conventions that fluctuate slightly from year to year:

1) Single issues: According to Comichron, the average price of the top 300 single issues sold by Diamond in February of 2020 was $4.16, with the majority of titles priced at $3.99.

2) Trade paperbacks and graphic novels: Because there is a large amount of variety in page counts, paper stock, and other considerations, there is a significant range in the price of trades and OGN. According to Publisher’s Weekly, graphic novels aimed at younger markets tend to be priced in the $10 to $15 range, while superhero and literary graphic novels can range from $15 to $30 or more. Without doing a statistical analysis the way Comichron did with single issues, we’re going to say the average GN price is around $20.

3) Webcomics have the highest amount of variance because the revenue from webcomics is often indirectly tied to microtransactions, monetization, sponsorship, or related merchandise sales.

What Are the Pricing Options for Comics?

Once you understand the current prices for comics, the next step is choosing a price option based on the format you plan to distribute. In general, there are four options: discount, competitive, premium, and subscription pricing.

1) Discount pricing (sometimes referred to as loss leader pricing) means selling your comic for a price that is not profitable and often less than the competition. For example, this could mean selling a single issue of your comic for $1.99 instead of the standard $3.99.

2) Competitive pricing (sometimes referred to as the standard price) means selling your comic for the same price that your competition sells their comics, so if the common price of a single issue is $3.99, then your comic sells for the same price.

3) Premium pricing means selling your comic at a higher price than your competition. This practice is not uncommon among established publishers, who use crossovers, “major events”, and relaunches to charge between $4.99 and $7.99 for a single-issue comic, or crowdfunding, where backers might pay $15-$25 for a single issue comic.

4) Subscription pricing (or flat rate pricing) means selling your comic as part of a larger library of comics to users who pay one price to read as much or as little as they want. For example, GlobalComix currently offers a Gold program where readers can read everything on the platform for $7.99.

How Do You Pick the Right Pricing Option for Your Comic?

To determine the right price for your comic, you need to consider your market, your distribution channels, and your format. For example, if you have a decent following and distribute your prestige format OGN through crowdfunding, then premium pricing makes sense. If you’re trying to build your market and want to avoid print costs for your first book, then subscription pricing is a better choice.

But keep in mind that the pricing models are not mutually exclusive. You can mix and match prices depending on your circumstances. For example, you could have a competitive price for your comic in the comic shop, but then switch to discount or premium pricing when you sell the same book at conventions. Or you could use discount pricing for your first book to entice new readers to take a chance on your book, then switch to competitive or even premium pricing once you’ve made a name for yourself. The right price will change with your circumstances, but as an independent comic creator, you can be nimble in your response to the market.

Now that we’ve discussed various aspects of selling your comic, we’re going to start an in-depth discussion on the largest growth channel in comics in the past few years for independents. I hope you’ll join me next week when we start to talk about the best way to crowdfund your comic.

Until then, if you’d like to publish your digital comics, graphic novels, or manga on GlobalComix, you can create a free account here. If you’d like to see how to publish your comics in less than ten minutes, check out this video that will walk you through the whole process.

Have fun with your comic.