eBay can be an incredible marketplace to buy and sell comics — it's one of the most powerful marketplaces for connecting buyers and sellers from all over the world. Here at Bry's comics, we are dedicated to bringing you valuable information that you can use to have this hobby fund itself. One of the most fundamental ways of having this hobby fund is selling comics online. The most popular selling platform by far is eBay. You can do it from the comfort of your own home, and there is a minimal amount of middle manning, and you typically get your money in hand faster than most other venues.
While eBay fees can seem overwhelming, at times up to 15% or more, they provide an incredibly powerful piece of software that connects you with an audience looking for your item from all over the world. Until recently, when I started my website, it was my primary selling platform, and you can absolutely make a living selling comics on eBay alone. Here are the top things I've learned about buying and selling comics on eBay over the past 12 years.
#1 - List Your Comics Individually
You will always get more money for your comics if you list them individually rather than in a set. Most people are looking for specific issues to fill their run and don't want to buy the entire run outright. There are many different types of collectors out there, and one type is the completionist meaning that they want a complete run and every variant. For the most part, they do this over time, and hunting each comic is part of the fun. Usually, the only people buying complete sets are really after just one or two of the issues included or speculators who want to flip it by listing individually.
In both cases, the buyer will only pay less for the set because they don't want the whole thing. This is a generality, but it suffices to say that you will make more money if you list each book individually. If it's a big money set like the complete SIKTC set I just bought, that could mean 1000's of extra dollars for you, and if you factor in the time it will take your list and sell individually, you will see that you'll be making a ton of money as an hourly rate. The only time this isn't true is if it's a low-dollar complete run, you might be losing money when you factor in the time it will take your list individually.
#2 - Take Great Pictures
This comes down to several factors - lighting, resolution, and aspect ratio. Make sure you have great lighting and avoid any glares. The best lighting I have found to date is natural sunlight when the sun is directly overhead, so you don't have any shadows. You can set up a little table outside and take your pictures there. Just make sure not to expose the books to sunlight for more than a minute or so; UV rays damage books. Make sure you have a good enough camera to have high resolution. Newer smartphones are plenty good enough. For aspect ratio, make sure you use a 1:1 aspect ratio, otherwise known as a square image. eBay crops your image for search results, and if you're selling slabs, it can cut off the grade, which kills your views because it's super annoying to have to click into a listing to see what the grade is. People won't do it because there are so many other options.
Another point to mention about photos is the more, the better. At the very minimum, raw and graded books need to show the front and back of the comic with high enough resolution that you can zoom in. Ensure to take clear photos of any flaws with the book or the slab.
Lastly, if you have a listing that includes multiple items, make sure the main picture shows every single item in the lot. Even if it's 50 books, lay them all out on a clean floor, stand on a ladder and take a photo of them. This small investment in time will get you many more views and potential buyers.
#3 Determine the Best Title
You want to use as many highly searched terms as possible in your listing title and use as many of the allowed characters as you can. One easy way to do this is to go into sold listings for the same book you're selling and get ideas from sold listings with the highest sale prices. Make sure it accurately and completely describes the item.
#4 Provide a Grade Range for Your Raw Books
It's essential to learn the basics of grading raw books if you're selling them on eBay. Stating in the listing that "you are not a professional grader" and to "please refer to pictures for a grade, no returns accepted" does provide some protection for you against returns. Still, it also does not inspire confidence from the buyer in what they are getting. You want to remove all obstacles from the buyer choosing your listing, which is a big one. I will stay away from 95% of listings like this because the pictures are never good enough to know what you're getting, and if I purchased it and found a flaw, I would be screwed. Plus, it's a red flag that the seller doesn't know comics well or is trying to hide something.
You don't have to be 100% accurate with the grade, just good enough to give it a range, G, VG, F, VF, NM. The industry standard for brand new comics that haven't been read is NM- 9.2 or better or sometimes even NM 9.4 or better. This means that there are no obvious huge flaws, only minor handling or manufacturing defects. Remember to be conservative. You don't want to oversell a book and risk a return.
#5 Consider Accepting Returns
Sellers that accept returns have way higher sales. There are a ton of potential pitfalls with this. Some people are scammers and will return a lower-grade copy of the book they bought from you. It's worth mentioning that this is extremely rare. So take into account the value of the books you are selling and the volume. If you are selling a high volume of low-dollar books, it might make sense for you to accept returns at the buyers shipping expense. If you are selling a low volume of high-dollar books, it's probably best not to accept returns and to get comfortable with grade ranges.
#6 Listing End Time
Plain and simple — start all your listings on Sunday evening between 6-7 pm PST / 10-11 EST. Tons of data show these are the most effective times to end a listing.
#7 Auction or Buy it Now
Under no circumstances do I ever use auctions. It is incredibly rare for your listing to reach FMV or above FMV by sending it to auction. The vast majority of comic auctions end below FMV and sometimes drastically below FMV. So why risk it? I prefer to be in control of my pricing. Listing BIN gives you complete control, and you can always choose to send and receive offers. Listing with best offers accepted are 7% more likely to sell, so I list things about 5% higher than the lowest I would accept and set the listing to automatically accept offers 5% less and automatically decline offers more than 5% less. Low ballers can get annoying and take up a lot of time, so I always set the auto decline feature. One benefit of listing it as an auction is no matter what, it will be sold in 7 days or whatever you set for the ending time. This is appealing for people that don't want to be patient to get full FMV. If you need to sell it quickly, I recommend listing it BIN (Buy It Now) at a discounted price or sending really low offers to people watching your listing. At least that way, you are in control, instead of leaving it up to chance if you must use auctions, at least set them to end at times mentioned previously.
Take time to leave feedback for buyers, so they will likely leave feedback for you. Feedback is critical if you are starting out. eBay may even hold your money until the item has been delivered if you are below a certain feedback level. One way to get around this if you're just starting out is to sell like 100 items at a great price, maybe even take a slight loss so you can build your feedback up quickly.
Tips for Buying on eBay
#1 Check the Seller's Feedback Rating
Anytime a seller has less than 100% positive feedback, it is cause for concern. Sellers like My Comic Shop have over 400k feedback and are usually at 100% positive. If a seller has less than 100%, click on their feedback and filter by negative feedback. See why the seller got negative feedback. If you see a common theme like shipping in a bubble mailer or selling items not in hand, don't even think about buying from them. A really good seller can get an unreasonable buyer, but it's unlikely.
#2 If It's Not Clear, Ask for More Details About the Condition
Most listings on eBay are from amateurs that don't list adequately. That's okay and even understandable if they don't sell comics for a living. So if a listing doesn't mention the grade and the pictures aren't enough to determine the grade, ask them point-blank if there are any obvious flaws with the book. This is a tricky question to skirt around and probably tell you all you need to know.
#3 See if You Can Find the Seller Anywhere Other Than eBay To Get a Better Price
This is especially important if you are buying an expensive key. Just make sure you trust the person and do your due diligence. Established sellers are often on FB or IG and have many references that make a deal outside eBay just as safe.
#4 Stay Away From Sellers that Refuse to Give You a Grade Range and Don't Accept Returns
There are just too many options to choose from these days to risk getting taken advantage of by a seller.
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