Photo by Austin Marshall

How to make and sell ebooks of your comics in like 12 1/2 seconds

(even a dang baby can do it)

Ryan Estrada
Dec 3, 2013 · 6 min read

So you’re wondering if you should make ebooks of your comics. You should, but before I explain why, let me explain how simple it is to make an ebook of your comics. You can make one in like 2 1/2 seconds. *NOTE: This tutorial is Mac-centric, sorry.

How do I make a PDF in like 2 1/2 seconds?

Making a PDF on a Mac takes two steps. And you know what? I’m gonna cut one of those steps out for you. Download this app I made.

Literally just drag any group of image files onto that icon and it makes a pdf out of them. The pages will be in sequential order. So if you want to change the order of the pages you can just change the filenames. You can even batch rename them.

If that app doesn’t work anymore, since OS upgrades tend to break stuff, you can even make your own app. It takes the same amount of time as that PDF took to make. Just open up the built the mac’s built in program Automator and then…

There ya go, that’s easy. Making a CBZ is just as easy.

Okay, how do I make a CBZ in like 2 1/2 seconds?

CBZ is another comic-reading format that some people like. I dunno what the big draw is, but power users like ‘em. Here’s how you make ‘em:

A CBZ is literally just a zip file with all your images in them.

Two things to keep in mind:

First, Zero padding. Once again, your pages will appear in sequential order but it’s weird about numbers so instead of 1, 2, 3 you’re gonna want to name your files 001, 002, 003, etc. Once again, you can rename them in bulk.

Secondly, Mac problems: For some reason, ZIP files made with OSX’s built in archiver are sometimes wonky and won’t work for some people. Many have recommended zipping up your files with the confusingly-named WinZip Mac.

But if you want to class up those comics:

That’s how you make a file, but you’re gonna want to make your book look good! You could hypothetically just use the same web-sized images you output for your webcomic but make it pretty! Make sure every page is the same size! Leave a little margin around the panels, unless you’re going for full bleed. Add in a nice cover, maybe a title page, a contact info page in the back.

Your workflow will depend on your comics, but remember that anything you have to do the same way a whole bunch of times (resizing, cropping, placing, rotating, etc) you can record and replay a Photoshop action.

Export each of those suckers as a .jpg. You can use “save for web” in Photoshop to keep the file size down.*

There’s no industry standard resolution, but I tend to just Google “newest iPad resolution” and make mine the same resolution as the newest hottest model. Right now, that’s 2048 pixels on the largest side.

*NOTE: When you use Photoshop actions to resize in bulk, “image size” remembers the actual measurements you give it, whereas “save for web” just remembers the percentage. So use image size first to get the size right, then save for web to get the file size down or else you’ll end up with unmatching pages.

So what do I do with these files?

Sell those suckers! You can have ebooks for sale in like 10 seconds.

Gumroad is great! You’ll get a link you can share anywhere, and they handle everything. Taking payments, delivery, customer support,etc. Money just pops up in your account!

EDIT TO ADD: I have since started using Sellfy as well, and it is also a great service. Unlike Gumroad, it allows customers to pay with PayPal which strangely is a dealbreaker for some customers.

Why should you make ebooks available?

So your comic is free online. Why would anyone want to buy a pdf instead of just reading it free? What if you make it and nobody buys it? First of all, waaah. That took like 12 1/2 seconds, total. If even one reader wants an ebook of your work, it’s worth the time investment. And let me tell you something: I buy PDFs all the time. I buy PDFs of comics available in their entirety free online all the time.

Here are some of the reasons I buy ebook editions of webcomics…

I need to catch up.

When I’m taking a break from work and find an awesome new comic with a massive backlog, I don’t have time to stop what I’m doing and read 1000 pages so that I understand the newest page. But if I can download a book that will catch me up and read it at my convenience, then I can pop that sucker in an RSS feed and follow along with everybody else!

It’s a better reading experience.

Look, your website is awesome for reading a page a day. But have you ever tried to read your own comic from the beginning? Scroll down, read, scroll down,find button, click, wait to load, scroll down, read, repeat. Times a million, it gets really annoying. It’s like watching a YouTube video that’s still buffering.

I read while traveling.

Dude, I spent huge chunks of my life on trains, planes, boats, in remote villages… and that’s where I read all my comics. I don’t got no internet! I load up on ebooks every time I travel!

I know what I’m getting into.

I like seeing a book and knowing “Ah, a 200 page story. Cool, I can get into that.” I know that if I buy that book, I can get a nice, curated chunk of story in one sitting and not have to worry about an impenetrable archive or starting to read something that’s never going to be finished, or is going to go on hiatus, or be interrupted by filler and apologies for late pages. I will impulse-buy an ebook much faster than I will impulse click “go to first page” on a webcomic.

I like to support artists.

I have bought digital versions of a comic that I’ve already read, and never bothered to even download them. Because I already read it for free, and I think it’s worth money! Just sending a donation feels creepy, I don’t want to buy physical merch because getting crap shipped to Korea means I’m giving money to the post office instead of the artist.

So give it a shot!

I recommend letting readers name their price, especially if your stuff is already free online. Everyone has different reasons for buying. Whether they wanna collect ‘em all, get caught up, show a comic they like to a friend, or just sneakily donate to their favorite artist- and they will be honest about what it’s worth to them. Lots of people will pay the minimum- but the generous people will more than make up for it. And people will be more apt to share and promote your comics to others if they know those people can name their price. But whatever! They’re your books, I don’t wanna get all up in your junk.

Written by Ryan Estrada. Check out his comics!

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