Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sureshot Presents – Setting my goals

“Who will print my comic?” is an issue of money. Who will spend money printing my comic? And it’s a very important question. A creator has spent weeks, months maybe even years creating a comic – all that time could have been spent better with friends and family not cramped over a homemade drawing board. And now that creator will have to dig into their pockets 1000s of dollars for a print run of comics. Those full colour card covers are expensive and traditional printing meant a print run minimum of 1000 copies. A comic dimensions are not standard so you have to pay for larger paper and then pay for it to be cropped.

Remember this was before POD so making comics meant


Well I wanted to pay for the costs of printing and come up with a model which other creators could use in the future. Something that didn’t mean much outlay, sold and make money back soon.

“I can’t sell my comics”. Whilst the creators on the OzComic messageboard never where so whiny or direct it was an issue that came up either online or chatting with people drunk at cons. Traditionally you sold comics in three places which all had their pitfalls or obstacles.

Newsagents – Once you enter newsagent distribution everything is out of your hands and you can only make money through volume. Ian Gould, Jase Paulos and Trudy Cooper will tell you the stuff of nightmares. Stacks of comics left in the rain, incredibly poor accountability, poor distribution (one newsagent would be given 10 copies and another only 3; the latter newsagent would sell out every month whilst the former would return all 10 copies). Even with nationwide distribution they were lucky to break even. Though I’ll say that was over ten years ago and I believe that particular distributor was bought out. But then again I believe Oztaku did poorly with their newsagent distribution.

Comic Shops – The problem with comic shops is they lack returnability. A good comic shop owner will want to sell everything the buy. Dead stock is money lost. Unlike newsagents, where if a comic/magazine doesn’t sell, the cover is ripped off and it gets returned to the distributor – no one makes any money but the newsagent and to a lesser extent the distributor has lost any money. Only the publisher has lost out. Comic shop owners want to make money, whilst I wish they saw a bigger picture and supported local comics – wishes doesn’t food on the table. The other problem is every comic shop is different; some will buy local comics, some won’t, some will on consignment so will buy outright some want to make 40% of cover other 60%.

Most of the long time owners have been bitten by those uncompleted stalled comic series or the comics with the shit art that have been sitting in the dusty corner since 2001. Of course that’s another short-sighted view of comic shop owners just because they have boxes of X-force #1 (multiple copies of all 5 cards still polypagged) doesn’t stop them from buying from Marvel so I wonder why just because one Australian Comic they whole “industry” gets ignored.

Conventions – Well you can break conventions down into the Pop Culture fairs like Supanova or Armageddon or Zine fairs. Supanova started out as Comicfest; about comics – but that couldn’t really sustain itself so it turned into everything thing else but comics. Which is fair enough, that’s economics; that’s food on the table and a roof over the head and I don’t begrudge that at all. I still think Artist Alley has a place – it provides a place for you to reach new audiences. I do reasonably well at cons; mainly drinking and carousing but I seem to sell a bit too. But it can be an expensive exercise. I’ve done zinefairs too. I they were better; they didn’t care about colour covers or superhero genre stuff. They liked the cute and the DIY aspect of it.

Newsagents are out – I don’t have the energy or money; nor do I think that its possible to make money from newsagents without having a good revenue stream from advertising. Finding advertisers is a fulltime job in itself. Zineafais are easy to do, just show up make a cute smallpress book and smile. I wanted to show comic shop owners that they could make money from local books.

“No-one will buy my comic”

That’s mainly because

  • Readers can’t find it
  • They can’t afford it
  • It doesn’t interest them
  • Its shit

Based on what I’ve sold and what I’ve seen, if a creator can not sell 300 copies of a comic over a year then its because of one of the reasons above. I put together a comic filled with stick figures talking about who they would rather have sex with; its A5, B/W, 22 pages, with fucking stick figures in it, printed for 50c a copy and selling for $2.50. I’ve taken it to 2 cons and 2 zine fairs and have sold around 150 copies; and that’s not even trying.

I wanted to show readers that Australian comics are good.


LFW said...

that's because they're not buying your book, selan, they're "buying" you (if that makes any sense). You're one of those "people" persons, you sell your book not on its content (which, as funny as it is to read, is still just very badly draw stickmen, which I would classify as "shit" quality wise) you sell your book because people walk past your stall, see you, or make eye contact, talk to you, and after a few minutes it goes like this in their minds "what a nice person, I should buy something from him for being so nice, I'll just buy the cheapest thing, because he's nice."

Campbell does the exact same thing, if you were both selling poision, the exact same result would happen, it has nothing to do with the actual work or book itself (which is why if VS ever gets an internation distribution deal, it probably won't sell that well because your not like santa claus/ God, you can't be in every book store in the world, at the same point in time/space) lol

but those are some very excellent points made about why a book doesn't sell. I think you need a 5th one stating "your ugly. People are shallow and suggestable and only want to buy things from fake, good looking sweet talkers, aka tom cruise" lol

but you are not fake, so I guess that gives you an advantage, that includes the magic powers you have, sir.

cheers to you, I am enjoying these posts, very wise words indeed.


mrtang said...

At LFW: Ha ha. I laugh but it's true, I've sold many a Knee Pockets through the magic of seduction. And that my friend, is the greatest gift of all...

Mark Selan said...

LFW - While i'm flattered, i think you greatly exaggerate my charisma and selling ability. I don't chat for minutes and minutes with con-goers. Its usually small talk, what do they like, blah blah. With VS if they look like the type of person who will dig it or they pick it up i'll say "read a couple of pages if you like it cool, if you don't put it down and walk away, no harm".

I'm not seducing them or making them feel guilty. That's why friends and family by books.

i think another thing is the subjective nature of "Quality". Yes VS is shitty stick figures but it makes you laugh. If it was drawn by Shaun Tan and didn't make you laugh would it be quality?

I don't think you can sustain a readership by being a nice guy AND having a disatisfying book.

Tom Cruise is ugly, when he started out - he has a massive nose, a monobrow, short, etc but its his charisma and self-confidence that has elevated him over other better and prettier actors.

Prince - ugly as sin.
Madonna - ugly and untalented.

There's plenty of ugly people who have found success through hard work and knocking on doors.

David - It must be hard being us.

Daren White said...

I think 300 sales works if the comic has some redeeming features. It sort of falls over if its a lavishly printed turd for $9.95, though. Not sure what the ratio of one to the other is, locally.

Good set of articles. You should post these on Pulp faction.

Mark Selan said...

Everyone - I did make a mistake I've only sold around 100 copies of VS; i gave away a bunch and still have some in the cupboard (which i just found).

Daren - Yeah that's my point, if a comic is decently distributed, priced reasonably, interests readers and looks reasonably pretty or makes them laugh then it should sell around 300 copies. Of course this is all a reasonable amount of work but if the book is designed to be sold to a wide audience then the work is worth it.

And Thanks - I might post something at PF when i'm done with the series, intime for an announcement.