10 Reasons Why You Should Put Your Comics Online TODAY (Part 2 of 2)

(Avg. Reading Time: 6 mins)

Photo Credit: Gwenaël Piaser

This is Part 2 of our mini-series on why you should put your comics online today! If you haven’t read Part 1 of the mini-series, then click here.

In Part we discussed reasons 1-5 of why putting your comics online is beneficial to your current and future career as a comic book artist/writer. Namely, those reasons were…

  1. Exercise creativity truly and completely
  2. Make a statement
  3. Connect with your potential readers
  4. Make a name for yourself
  5. Spread that name out into the world

Here, we discuss the last 5 reasons on our list…

  1. Give your readers a sense of security
  2. Piracy is not your enemy
  3. Nobody else steals your idea
  4. Accomplish something of importance to you
  5. Stop thinking about the money


Give your readers a sense of security, something to treasure

Have you ever been disappointed when reading a book you thought was great and later found to be incredibly unfulfilling and unsatisfying? Did you feel as though you were robbed of your money?

Here’s a common counter-argument: Never mind that the reader didn’t like it. At least I got a sale, unlike if I gave it out for free, I’d get nothing.

If you were the author of that disappointing comic book, that simple reaction by one reader can hurt in one important way:

Reader dissatisfaction will NOT generate more readers.

In fact, that one reader will go out and express to all his friends how much he hates your books and recommends that no one else buy it, proclaiming it a waste of money.

Compare this to if your comic is out for free, then maybe, just maybe, that particular friend that was told how bad your book was, might take a look at it and judge for himself. Why?

Because there’s no risk involved.

If, in turn, that friend likes it, he might decide to buy a copy and share it with his friends.

Taking away the risk of having to put out money also helps you in one important way:

When someone that loves your work buys it, you know for sure—a 100%— that that person will treasure it and share it.

Photo by Lorena

And that’s much more valuable than just some random guy who bought your book, read it, and then tucked it away at the back of his shelf.

The person that loves your book will go out and talk about just how much he or she loves it, recommending it to friends, who themselves take no risk in reading it online for free and seeing just what the fuss is all about.

If they, in turn, also learn to love your book, they’ll buy it, treasure it, and share it. You will have attained yourself a true fan.

In other words, give your fans the opportunity to love your work without them needing to take the risks to get to know it. (Tweet this)


Piracy is not your enemy

Neil Gaiman, at first, hated piracy. He felt that he was being robbed of a sale because people were pirating and sharing his books. What he realized later on, however, was how profoundly wrong he was.

You’re not losing books. You’re not losing sales by having stuff out there… I started asking audiences to just raise their hands, for one question… I say, “Do you have a favorite author?” and they say, “Yes.” And I said, “Good. What I want is for everybody who discovered their favorite author by being lent a book, put up your hands.” And then “Anybody who discovered their favorite author by walking into a bookstore and buying a book, raise your hands.” And it’s probably about 5, 10 percent, if that, of the people actually discovered an author, who is their favorite author, who is the person they buy everything of, and they buy the hardbacks, and they treasure the fact they got this author. Very few of them bought the book. They were lent it. They were given it. They did not pay for it. And that’s how they found their favorite author. And I thought, you know, that’s really all this is. It’s people lending books, and you can’t look on that as a lost sale. It’s not a lost sale. Nobody who would’ve bought your book is not buying it because they can find it for free. What you’re actually doing is advertising.Neil Gaiman

And Neil is right, if I may say so. No one who was going to buy your book isn’t buying it. If they really loved the book, they’d go out of their way to procure a copy. Those kids would stop eating at lunch break for a month if they had to, just so they could save enough money to buy your book.

Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson even puts it more bluntly, talking about how piracy only discredits works that are bad, but generates more value towards works that are good.

My stance on piracy is that piracy is bad for bad entertainment. There’s a pretty strong correlation with things that suck not being greatly pirated, while things that are successful have a higher piracy rate. If you put out a good comic book—even if somebody does download it illegally—if they enjoy it, then the likelihood of them purchasing the book is pretty high. Obviously we don’t want everybody giving a copy to a hundred friends, but this argument has been around since home taping was supposedly killing music back in the ’70s, and that didn’t happen. And I don’t think it’s happening now.Eric Stephenson

So if your work is being pirated, take that as a nudge that you did an excellent job.


Nobody else steals your idea

Actually, the truth is that the fear you have that someone will steal your idea is a rarity. We live in a world where people shy away from chasing after their dreams because they’re afraid of taking the risk. They have responsibilities that need to be taken care of. They have obligations they have to meet.

They “don’t have the time” to go off and write a book. And so they don’t.

On the other hand, if someone did steal your work from your website, what better way to find out than have your legions of fans hunt down that impostor and pressure him into taking down your work? If you’ve got those 1000 true fans for you, what chance does this no-name have against you in court? None.

Unlike if your work’s obscure and lurking in the back of your room—never seen the light of day—how does that help your cause when your idea gets stolen? Nobody’s there to vouch for you. Nobody’s there to back you up and defend you.

Ever read about what happened with Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, when someone tried to steal his comics and put them up in his own website?


Accomplish something of importance

The great thing about having a webcomic with a thriving audience is that there’s more pressure for you to finish. Sure, it’s a given that there are hundreds of webcomics that have suddenly disappeared off the map because their creators couldn’t take it, or couldn’t finish what they started. But compare that to if you just kept those thumbnails and sketches in your drawer?

Without the pressure of adoring fans, there’s no sense of accountability, no motivation for you to finish your work. What is in the drawer, stays in the drawer, and you hold no obligation to it whatsoever.

Even better, that website is a constant reminder for you as a person with a heart:


If you do put off posting new comic pages for a while, you might eventually get back to it.


Stop thinking about the money

I’ve heard dozens of successful authors all say that they didn’t do it for the money. They’re half-right when they say that. Of course, at the back of their minds they’re thinking about the possibilities of what might happen if their book suddenly hits big time.

What I believe they really mean to say is that, “I didn’t let the want or need of money dictate my level of passion.”

Money is always the issue, isn’t it? It’s the number one reason why we put aside our dreams. It’s the number one reason why we give up and join the rat race. It’s the number one reason we settle for less.

Money does not equal riches, however.

Money is not the god of everything.

Once you’re able to break free of its clutches, you’ll realize just how much freedom and power you actually have.

Photo by: Nathan Congleton

In short, don’t allow currency to be your master. Rather, turn money into your slave.

If you can rally an audience that values and treasures your work far more than the average reader, then the money will take care of itself. You just have to think up a creative way to monetize it somehow.

And that’s easy! After all, you ARE a creative, aren’t you?

Piece of cake.

So my final say regarding this topic is go out and start a website. Put your stuff on there. Trust me, if we are not in this stage of modernization already, we’re quickly getting there. It is far better for you to be ahead of the trend, than lagging behind because you wanted to be conservative about the whole thing.

Go back and read Part 1

Discussion Questions:

  • IF you’ve got a live webcomic today, drop us a link in the comments.
  • IF you’ve got even more reasons why everyone should START a webcomic, share it with us!
  • IF you just want to shout out to all the webcomic creators out there and give them a pat on the back, you’re welcome to do so.
  • Hello there. Mark here of “My Wife Is Pregnant.” I’m a newbie creator and the online world (particularly Facebook and Blogger) gave me instant exposure for my comic. I started with 3 strips and I was able to share it with readers right away. You cant do that in print - no one would buy a comic with only 3 strips haha! People seemed to like it (my friends, at least) and so I eventually came up with more ideas and was able to compile a print edition.

    One thing I realized from the entire experience is that printing 50 comics allows a creator to share his story with 50 readers (or at least a few more, if the buyers lend their copies). Posting the comic online makes it possible to reach hundreds (or even thousands, if you’re so awesome haha) of readers without any hassle (no printing costs, whatsoever).

    I love both print and digital comics. I now mainly consider my online space as a way to prepare readers for the print edition. They work hand in hand in my case and I love it 🙂

    • Hi Mark! I agree with you there in that digital is a good preparation for your readers when you finally release a print version. And you’re right, no printing costs! 😀 Good luck with your comics! 🙂

  • This is what I’ve been trying to tell people about comics. Most of them are lying through their teeth when they say there not in for the money (but tell you off of how adamant they are against piracy and fear that their idea would get stolen—and someone would make money of it).

    (It would be more hilarious if these same people make their stuff using pirated Photoshop and SAI)

    Yes that Neil Gaiman example is a good one
    (also check this guy out—his comics were “shared” on 4chan and the next thing he noticed, there was a boost in sales http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20101021/10481211524/comic-book-pirated-on-4chan-author-joins-discussion-watches-sales-soar.shtml)

    • Thanks for the comment, Chorvaqueen! That would indeed be a bit of a double standard. I like the case of this other guy, just goes to show how powerful 4chan can be x_x

  • addendum:

    Besides, people are not that dumb to not distinguish your work (unless of course, your stuff is generic garbage and or blatant rip-off of another work—which people can call you out for it) If they like it, they’ll find themselves tracking down where you are and will most likely drive sales up.