Graphicly Opens Publishing Platform To Everyone, Looks Beyond Comics

After a month long trial period, startup Graphicly is throwing the doors open to its digital publishing platform.

Since incubating at TechStars in 2009, Graphicly has shifted strategy. Co-founder and CEO Micah Baldwin says the company was first conceived as an “iTunes for comics” — the place where existing comics publishers could sell the digital versions of their titles. However, Baldin says he found that the marketplace strategy was too limiting. (It probably didn’t help that competitor ComiXology scored early deals with the two biggest publishers, DC and Marvel.)

Instead, Graphicly is offering creators the tools they need to publish their work on a broad swath of platforms, including the iBookstore, the Kindle store, the Android Market, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Graphicly also offers analytics to authors and publishers, so they can see exactly what content is engaging their readers. And the company is also placing a greater emphasis on helping authors self-publish, rather than just making deals for traditionally published properties.

Graphicly first announced this plan in January, and during the first week, it says 1,500 authors and publishers signed up, with an average deal size of $650. For this first month, Baldwin says the company has limited the number of titles it approved, but there are already 7,000 in the system — and now, anyone can publish through Graphicly.

Baldwin says the company has also seen interest from non-comics authors, particularly for picture books and other books where images play a big role. He estimates that 500 of the current titles aren’t comics. Now that Graphicly is shifting its branding away from being comics-only, that proportion will probably go up.

The new model already seems to be working from a business perspective. Baldwin says that in January, Graphicly matched its best month ever in terms of revenue — and then its revenue doubled in February.

And digital self-publishing doesn’t eliminate the possibility of traditional success. Ken Garing initially published his comic book miniseries Planetoid through Graphicly, and it was just picked up by Image Comics.

Graphicly’s investors include DFJ Mercury, 500 Startups, Dundee VC, and Ludlow Ventures.