For as long as I can remember it hasn't been hard to make a Kindle ebook. Assuming you only want to use text and at most a few images, you can find any number of tools online that will do the job quite nicely. There's calibre, Jutoh, Feedbooks,, Mobipocket Creator (and that's just the handful I can recall off the top of my head).
But the same cannot be said for graphic novels. Amazon may have launched a new comics section in the Kindle Store along with the Kindle Fire in 2011, but they didn't release any tools which could be used to create graphic novels - until today.
I have just learned that Amazon has released a new tool this week that will enable independent comic artists to make graphic novels for the Kindle Store. It's called the Kindle Comic Creator, and it was very quietly launched late last week.
According to Amazon KC2 removes the need for authors and publishers to understand the intricacies of the HTML/CSS code that goes into an ebook. This tool lets authors import artwork, arrange the layout, and even create a guided reading experience with Kindle Panel Views. KC2 is reportedly able to automatically detect the panels in an image and it will recommend a reading order that will best guide a reader through the story.
This tool is available for Windows and OSX, and it can create books with double page spread, facing pages, and right-to-left page turns from a wide variety of formats including PDF, jpg, tiff, png, and ppm.
I haven't had a chance to use it myself, but I was told by Joshua Tallent of eBook Architects that his firm has been using it to create digital comics. He likes it, and he even demoed an early version of the tool at O'Reilly TOC a couple months back.
If this tool is really that good then comiXology had better watch out. That digital comics distributor has a dominant position in the market, and they've used that control to take a one-third cut of the retail price of digital comics sold via their platform.
That is a lot of money that isn't going into the pockets of the creators, but thanks to KC2 that might no longer be true. Now that it is easier for comics artists to deal directly with the Kindle Store they can cut out a middleman and keep a greater percentage of the funds.
On the other hand, I'm not so sure they will want to do that. Amazon might pay a 70% royalty but they also charge delivery fees which can add up to a significant chunk of change on a 100MB graphic novel. And while Amazon's 35% royalty might not have delivery fee attached it isn't exactly a better deal than what Comixology offers.
If you have been weighing you options for distributing your graphic novel, I'd love to hear from you in the comments. What's the best way to maximize your revenue?