Mailbag: Is Graphicly Worth It?
Q. What is your take on Graphicaly becoming a digital content publisher? http://graphicly.com/ is $150 worth someone else handling it?
Graphicly is offering a service that will enable you to upload and distribute your ebooks across a wide spectrum of retail download platforms, including iBookstore, Amazon and the Android Market.
Here’s a price breakdown of Graphicly’s offerings. (Click on the image for a larger image.)
[Edited] I’m going to focus on the Ebook plan. The $500 app offer, however, doesn’t sound so bad.
The $150 eBook
It’s a pretty cool concept: I upload my book once, and Graphicly formats it for several different platforms and places it in the different retail download sites. That means I can reach all of the following:
- Kindle Fire
- NOOK Color
- NOOK tablet
- NOOK Touch
- iPhone / iPad
- Android Tablet
- Android Phones
- Kobo VOX reader
Additionally, it’s important to notice the following:
Each marketplace/platform (such as iBookstore, Amazon Kindle, Android Market, etc.) takes a mandatory percentage of the suggested digital sale price (ranging from 30% to 55%, depending on the marketplace/platform). Graphicly will not take an additional percentage.
The only thing that gives me pause is the fact that this is a self-service offer. Unless I want to chip in an extra $100, this is going to be something that I’m going to have to tweak correctly so that it displays correctly across all those platforms. Having had a little experience making a PDF translate to MOBI and EPub formats, I can tell you that this isn’t as simple as it sounds.
If someone has experimented with this option, I would love a report on the interface of the self-service software. If not, I will see if I can research it for a future post.
Is it worth it?
It seems like a nifty enough service. What I like about the original question is that its framed perfectly: Is $150 worth someone else handling it? And that’s a simple enough question of cost-effectiveness. If I offer a book through Graphicly, I start out $150 in the hole.
The question I have to ask is whether I can make that back — and then continue to make profits past that mark by selling product through middlemen who are taking between 30% and 55% of the money for each sale of the book.
For the sake of argument, let’s set a price at $3 for an ebook. And, hypothetically, let’s assume that it’s only sold at Apple’s iBookstore, where Apple takes 30% of each sale. Each download yeilds $2.10. I’m going to have to sell 72 copes of this ebook before I begin to see profits. That break-even number is going to grow as the book is sold through venues that take more than 30% per transaction.
If I sell 100 ebooks, I make a profit of sixty bucks.
So how many am I going to sell?
That’s impossible to know. One way to guesstimate the response to an offering of merchandise is to look at the number of daily unique visitors to your Web site and assume that a small percentage of them will actively support such an offering. What percent? My thinking is that it’s up to you and your Community Building. But for the sake of argument, let’s do a little math…
- 72 active participants is 10% of 720 unique visitors
- 72 active participants is 5% of 1440 unique visitors
- 72 active participants is 1% of 7200 unique visitors
- 72 active participants is 0.5% of 14,400 unique visitors
When I’m making these kinds of decisions for myself, I always assume a smaller percentage of participants. I veer closer to 1% in my own projections. I’ll even go closer to 0.5% for something — like an ebook — that has very little to offer that can’t be found on my Web site for free.
So, if I were doing the math on this, I’d estimate (with all things, like Community Building and quality of comic) being set aside for the sake of the hypothetical, that our imaginary comic would have to have about 14,400 daily uniques to expect to break even on this deal… not make a significant profit, mind you, but break even.
So… 14,400 is my Magic Number, right?
Does that mean you’d need 14,400 daily uniques to make Graphicly a good choice for you? Heck no. I’m just walking you through the thought process that I use to determine if such a thing is right for me. I ask myself how strongly my community has been supporting me recently. I gauge whether the merchandise has a strong perceived value. I try to determine my chances at blowing past the break-even point and into serious profit.
And then I take a leap of faith.
Bottom Line: It’s Always About the Middleman
Here’s what you’re being offered: You upload once, work a self-service app, and distribute your ebook across several platforms. The price is $150-$250.
- If you decide to use the service, you start out in a position where you need to raise a significant sum of money before you break even — and continue, hopefully, into profitability. Your biggest hope for this lies in the sheer breadth of potential purchase points.
- If you decide to put time into learning how to format files for different platforms and submit those files to different retail download sites, you get to push into profitability a lot sooner — albeit at steps that are 30% smaller.
- And if you forgo middlemen all together and sell the files directly from your Web site, you push into profitability taking larger steps — but risk losing a few steps from those people who “discover you at the retail download sites and take a chance on your eBook.
In my opinion, Graphicly is a solid choice for a webcartoonist with a very large, supportive readership who can’t afford to divert time away from comics to process eBooks across a wide array platforms. If this isn’t you, my opinion is that you’re better off doing it yourself.