this is the biggest hertle for small publishers today getting in the market is rough, Most Christian book distributors don't like comics or market them to their customers. and the comicbook mainstream (Diamond) is overloaded with product and an ever shrinking retailer base. They are really not interested in religious material or a new small publishers.
Your best bet is to do grass roots marketing of you products in your area. Once you've made your product. Go to all the stores and churches in you're area (say 100 mile radius) and sell your books. There are many other oppurtunities if you can do consignment/vendor rackes etc. I suggest make a 1year marketing and sales plan, figure out how you are going to sale your books before you print them. My suggestion is to do a quarterly publication. (4 issues). Get low cost cardboard counter rakes/displays and/or floor displays and montior them at least on a monthly basis. If you have something that appeals to the public you got to get it out avaliable to them. Send out press realeases to local papers and community tabliods letting them know about bok and what your doing. the free publicity can turn into much needed sales and they love local stories. If you do well you can do more and expand the second year.
But for this to work you have to be commited to doing it for the whole year. you also should have all four issues complete (ready for printing) before you start marketing it. So you can concentrate on selling your books. You'll learn alot one way or another. Remember the role of a publisher is not to print the books, or even produce them It's to sell them. If you can't sell them then you should proably be look for a publisher instead of being one.
Like Ian said, Zeen publishing (photocopies books is a low cost possablility.) But with short run digital printers like Ka-Blam and ComicXpress. you don't have to sacrifice quality for low budget. However getting placed in the Previews catalog or another distributor catalog is no guarntee of profitablity. I know from first hand experience. that you can get in all the catalogs and even get featured item or hot list status in the catalogs and not break even. Most independents in the mainstream sell less than 1500 copies per issue and this is why they disappear. you need at least double that in sales to break even. If you purchase ad space (which they are all to egar to sell you) at least 5000. Innovative alternative marketing is a must for a new publisher if they what to be around for any period of time and make a profit. other-wise it's just an exspenceive hobby. so be very realistic about these things. I've seen many people get delussioned after having their dream of comic super-stardom phisal. neverfinish their first comic story even if it's just a 4 issue mini.
Welcome to the Christian Comic Arts Society (CCAS) Online Network!
Did you know that CCAS has monthly meetings in the Los Angeles area? Contact Eric Jansen for more info!
Also, members of CCAS have produced the APAzine ALPHA-OMEGA for over 25 years! We have about five openings right now! Contact Eric Jansen for more info! (This is a 30-member active-participation-only photocopied magazine for Christian writers and artists who submit a "trib" every other month for fun, fellowship, and critiques by other members. Between postage and your photocopying costs, you might pay anywhere from $5 to $25 per issue.)