Bryan Hibbs, long time retailer, analyzes the comic book numbers for 2011.
If you want to get an idea of numbers for books - as in how much you might be able to make off them - so you can understand what kind of costs need to be considered to make them.
Consider the following: Average Sale Per Title: 488 (copies) Average $ Per title: $7,334.91
To me this tells me - you might be able to get 500 people to buy your book. And you have to make your book for dramatically less than $7000/book to make any money.
THIS IS A VERY SIMPLISTIC RUDIMENTARY UNDERSTANDING EXTRAPOLATION of how this really works (this is the average across 750 titles so will not be reflective of individual titles and that includes comic books, graphic novels, and other comic related items).
But, taking those average numbers, and seeing that's what the market is doing - sales of 488 copies/title and approx $7000 in earnings per title is what you might expect if you get your title out there. (With proper promotion, word of mouth and other things).
IF 7K per book is all that is being earned, then oh boy. It might just cost 7K to get a print run done. Yerk.
NOW - if the Lord directs you to work hard and give your stuff away, or to use it in other ways outside of the "Traditional Market System" GO DO IT - just let this be a sobering slap upside the head as to what this means. I know for me it was.
SO - takeaway from this:
1. FOCUS your product on a select demographic, and find as many alternative places to sell or promote your stuff. GO GLOBAL.
2. If you feel your comics are MORE MINISTRY TOOLS than a traditional to market product - then gauge your approach accordingly. Analyze and consider how you want to reach the people with the message, and who you are trying to reach and where. Remember, sometimes our "cool idea" might be great to us as individuals, or to a select North American audience, but the kid in India may not relate to it in any way. Consider alternative ways of telling stories to other audiences (if it's relevant to do so).
3. Consider all the cost factors that might be applied - printing, distribution, production - and consider how many people you think you can reach. There are many options available to save money and figure out how to get your costs down - such as Print On Demand (select the right people), Minimal digital print runs, go digital first...amongst others.
DISTRIBUTION CAN BE AN ISSUE. Especially for the small publisher. To deliver a book might cost more than the book itself. IF a book costs $3 for purchase, but to buy it from you and it costs $7 to have it shipped, that might be an issue. So if you can offer more than one book, or additional value added with the book - it might cost the same to ship for one as it is for two or three. So scrutinize all avenues and options for yourself and your end user so you don't get stuck on this.
p.s. There is nothing worse than doing a traditional print run of 1000+ books that costs 3K+ and you can't get rid of your books. (Note - Arbitrary numbers and will differ according to a variety of factors and is not taking into consideration any production costs)