One thing I see webcomics doing a lot is selling merchandise that relates to their comics. Posters, t-shirts, even plushes of their characters seem to make them a ton of money. Not sure if any of those would work for web serials since we're not a visual medium, but what do you think? Do you have any merchandise related to your books (besides the books themselves) that you can sell to make some extra cash?

Drew Hayes and Wildbow could sell merchandise. You need a very large and very dedicated fanbase to sell t-shirts and stuff, and most of us don't have that.

I'm planning merchandise. Not out the gate, but it's definitely one of my long term goals. I've been planning it for a while, and there are definitely things I think are way more sellable than other things, and there are opportunities for great merchandising lines that several existing authors completely miss out on.

I don't think any of us could really sell a t-shirt with "Webserial Name" on it, for example.

However, there was something I read (ebook) where a main character was a virtual reality hologram visible only to one other character (because of a brain implant thingy). The VR character was always dressed in slogan t-shirts, and these would change often to be a funny remark about what was happening in the scene. That could very easily have transferred to a line of t-shirts that fans would have loved. With the proper marketing, even people who never read the book might have worn the t-shirts.

People buy books for the entertainment value. T-shirts provide no entertainment, and unless you are super famous almost no one will get the reference line. People are extremely reluctant to spend money on anything that's just 'for show' unless they are superfans who go to conventions and stuff.

I was thinking I could hire my artist to draw some stylized artwork regarding my books that I could turn into t-shirts and maybe posters. They wouldn't be just for show, I'd make sure they were actually something you'd want to wear in public (the shirts, I mean. Going outside wearing a poster probably isn't a good idea.). The only problem is I don't have much of a following yet, so it'd probably be a wasted effort anyway, lol.

I have an Antlers section of my Redbubble store (, and people seem to buy stickers more than anything! Certain t-shirt designs have been pretty popular, though.

@Chrysalis people buy slogan t-shirts that don't reference anything, for instance "I'm busy and you're ugly," or "last clean t-shirt." For the right reference, people will buy it even if they don't know what it's referring to.

The webcomic Questionable Content sells t-shirts that look like t-shirts that the characters are wearing. It appears to be a sizable income stream for the author.

As for myself, I offered t-shirts with the logo of The Legion of Nothing's main character on it as a reward for my Kickstarter. People were enthusiastic about it--even people who missed out on the Kickstarter. I plan to offer them for sale once I fully fulfill the Kickstarter and can devote thought to what I might put a Legion of Nothing store. The ideal in my mind is to sell things that people will want even if they've never heard of the serial.

I was thinking something along the lines of "Slayers: Protect the world, end the war before it begins" and "Mythics: We will rise and take what should be ours." Kind of a Gryffindor/Slytherin/Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw thing. Might commission some stylized portraits of the characters for posters and t-shirts too. Like I could have Toke, the Juryokine, with the book's quote "A Warrior Indeed" printed somewhere on it. I've heard computer backgrounds are really popular too, though I've never understood how I could keep people from just "right click, set as background"-ing them. I dunno, I'm just throwing ideas around that I'll probably never use :P

This is something I fully intend to do, and in fact plan to soon. Like, as soon as I can find the time to draw up some designs and do the research to select an appropriate print on demand platform. There are lots of companies I see used by the webcomic artists--Tapatico, CafePress, Zazzle, others. While we're in this thread, I don't suppose anyone has knowledge of these and recommendations?

With regard to WHAT you can make and sell, I think it's important to keep in mind what kinds of things people would want to have; if you're just going to whip up something as a "please give me some money and get this thing here thank you" kind of deal, I don't think it'll drum up much interest. It would be important to work out a good angle, something your story provides that would make a merchandise design people would want on its own merits. What that is, exactly, would of course depend on the serial. You'd have to exercise some creative and critical thinking to work that out for yourself.

As an example, what I intend to launch as a first salvo of merchandise is cult slogan T-shirts. In The Gods Are Bastards, the setting includes multiple religions dedicated to the gods in question, which have a serious impact on the story. Not only are these imminently recognizable to my readers, but these are pantheistic cults dedicated to deities who have a specific area of influence--and while I hardly expect anybody in the real world to be a believer in one of these faiths, the nevertheless espouse philosophies that I know definitely resonate with my readers, because they've had a number of discussions on this in my comments sections. So I plan to open my merchandising campaign with three shirts, each with a cult-related slogan and logo, because those will be shirt designs that readers will like for reasons beyond their enjoyment of my serial, and which non-readers might find interesting if they happen to see one in the wild.

The angle that would work for you, of course, would be different, but I'm willing to bet there is one for every story. You just have to find it. Simply keep in mind the difference between selling and selling out: there is nothing at all wrong with making money by providing value to people if you identify a kind of merch that they would actually want. It's when you're just cranking out crap to make a quick buck that you'll find yourself with a self-inflicted shot to the foot.

Merchandise strikes me as the sort of thing that might work best as a (higher?) level of a Kickstarter or something (assuming you've done the research to cost it out properly). At least initially, to see if the interest is truly there. T-Shirts seem to me like they're something that's overdone, maybe a tote bag or coaster or hat might be better, but I have zero experience with that sort of thing, so have a grain of salt too.

I did silk screen the silhouette of one of my math characters onto a shirt some years back. And wore it to a math convention. It did get some questions. Granted, I don't think that actually turned into views, but it at least let me talk about my serial with people, which was nice and in my case is a pretty rare phenomenon.

T-t-t-t-talk to people? Great, now I'm gonna have nightmares!

As I read some of this, I was reminded of Spaceballs and Yogurt's talk of merchandising. Then it occurred to me that, thanks to the rocket sax, my serial is probably the only one with an excuse to sell a flamethrower.

That's about it, though. The chicken grenades and laser potato peeler just wouldn't work. All that leaves me with is a plushie Moai statue.

However, if anyone else thinks of good ideas for monetization, I'm all for them. World Domination the t-shirt! World Domination the coloring book! World Domination the lunchbox! World Domination the breakfast cereal!

One of these days I hope to do some merchandising. From what I've seen it can help if you have 'factions' that people can choose from (like the houses in Harry Potter or the families in GoTs) or slogans that are popular and easy to remember ('Winter is Coming', 'For the Horde', Blood for the Blood God' etc)