According to ICv2, the digital comics market was growing at a healthy 25% in the first 9 months of 2013 (after nearly tripling in size in 2012) but if you had to judge by comiXology's self-pub platform, you probably wouldn't be able to say the same for self-published digital comics.
comiXology is showing off at SxSW this week, and they have revealed that comiXology Submit, their self-pub platform, has accepted 1,007 titles. Submit was launched at SxSW last year, so in a year and a couple days the platform has accepted just over one thousand titles from independent creators.
They're having a sale to celebrate the anniversary, in case you're interested.
While 1,000 might sound like a large quantity of works, it's really not. In comparison, Smashwords launched in 2008 and managed to reach a thousand titles in less than 18 months, and they pulled that off during a time when "what's an book?" was still a common question even among authors.
Now, though, ebooks in general and digital comics in particular are well-known and recognized as a medium, and I would argue that comiXology should have been able to reach his milestone inside of 3 months. Would anyone care to speculate why that didn't happen?
There are several possibilities. The first and most obvious is that comiXology curates the titles submitted via Submit, and this obviously could slow down the rate at which they can accept the works. Or, comics creators were already availing themselves of other channels to distribute their titles - Graphicly, for example. That service can distribute digital comics to all the major ebookstores and digital comic shops. They also added text-based ebooks (as opposed to image-based comics) last Fall.
And then there is the possibility no one would like to admit, which is that there isn't much interest in self-publishing digital comics. Personally, I see this last possibility as the least likely; even if digital comics weren't commercially viable I would expect to see more creators pursuing this option simply because they are driven to create.
My guess is that the self-published are using channels other than Submit, but unfortunately I don't (yet) have any evidence to prove the point. I don't have the industry connections needed to answer this question.
So why do you think participation is so low? Or do you disagree with my premise?
The comments are open to all.