Creator Jim Zub has been charting the sales on his Image published titles for a while now and he just gave an update on Wayward complete with the charts and graphs we are so in love with here:
Although the chart shows standard attrition, the real story is a bit more complex:
The simple truth is that the market has moved to trade reading. Affordable, durable, easy to lend to a friend or give as a gift, trade paperbacks are now the market for many titles. Wayward trade paperback sales continue to grow and that really drives us forward at this point. Direct market comic retailers support Wayward with their trade orders, but more than half of our trade sales now come from bookstores and other outlets. Initial direct market orders are pretty good, but the long tail of continued sales through other channels keeps us growing year after year. Good word of mouth from people like you keeps us going.
He also cites Image’s Humble Bundle promotion and the startling stat that “Tens of thousands of people have read Wayward Vol. 1 through the Unlimited platform.”
We’ve charted the impact of Humble Bundle here for a while – six figures profits in one go – but the Comics Unlimited effect is one no one has pointed out before. Something that bears watching.
As always read the whole thing, but I do want to highlight Zub’s takeaway – the comics market is not about monthly periodical sales any more:
If you take away anything from this post, let it be this: When fans or news sites only obsess over direct market single issue sales numbers from Comichron (which are not complete, but do provide an overall sense of market leaders and attrition), they are ignorant of a much larger overall market.Comic companies are not obligated to post their sales numbers, but that obfuscation has unfortunately led to a ridiculous amount of armchair quarterbacking by people who cannot see the forest for the trees and are woefully ill-informed about what sells and where. If you only looked at monthly print single issue sales you would assume Wayward was doomed over a year ago, but it’s just not true. The market has shifted and will continue to do so. Readers, retailers, and publishers need to adjust their perception of the market, if they haven’t already.
Zub is a smart creator who also has a head for the business end of things, but all of these trends are being taken advantage of by other creators who are clued in to the power of Kickstarter, digital and book channel sales. Anyne who says the market is dying is only seeing part of the picture.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.