Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Direct Market, If I were in Charge: Publishers


In addition to the items above publishers,

  1. Would never sign an exclusive distribution deal that prevents retailers from taking business to the distributor best suited to meeting their needs.
  2. Quit being so damn paranoid. Work with your peers (competition). Combine marketing efforts and advertising. Develop co-op campaigns WITH retailers and their local community media.
  3. Stop debuting projects at conventions AND use conventions for what they are really for, OUTREACH. The only shops that are damaged by convention debuts are shops that ARE ALREADY SUPPORTING YOU. As hard as it can be to get shops to carry your work, why make life less rewarding for those who are buying in to you? You should know what conventions you're attending in advance, create a flier listing all known area retailers who suport your product line and in conjunction with these retailers develop a bounce back reward program that will drive these motivated buyers into those shops. These shops are your sales reps for these communities the other 361-364 days of the year, don't cut them off at the knees by selling into their customer base and running off at show end. Sow the seeds, tell the customers that you know that Comic Shop A will be there for all of their current and future needs and if they take this flyer in this coming week, not only will they discover a great shop but they'll get an exclusive freebie.

    Don't know what local shops are supporting your work? Shame on you! In a matter of minutes you can go to
    The Master List of Comic & Card Shops

    The Comic Shop Locator Service

    The Indy World Indy Friendly Stores List or even something like the

    Verizon Online Yellow Pages (which currently lists 2,259 comic shops)

    and reach out and touch someone.
  4. Would devise incentive rewards for retailers who support the first three issues of a new or retooled series at a predetermined level. Not these bullshit Dynamic Forces/Avatar Foil Logo "Variants" but something that adds value to the vendor/vendee relationship as well as enhances the positioning of your produc(s) in front of the consumer.

    Antarctic Press has a great program called Fistfull of Dollars that allows retailers to get 10 copies of a specified title for $10 (~68% discount). Jeff Mason has offerred Buy 10 Get 10 Free on Graphic Novels from his Alternative Comics label. As mentioned earlier on, Image Central offered Retaillers an additional discount for matching their Fell #1 initial order numbers to their orders for (still popular) Spawn #150.

    Even DC and Marvel (What? DC and Marvel need to stump for orders?) have greased the wheels on 52 and Civil War, books that would already have place in the top 5 any way. DC is offering retailers an unprecedented ability to return their entire order of 52 provided they initially meet a minumum order level. (*There is a cost of 25cents per returned issue which has both supporters and detractors.)

    Marvel is offering multiple incentives on Civil War including a massive free shipement of an introductory sketchbook, a staggered variant cover program and a two tiered bonus discount based on matching orders to House of M.

    These are just a few examples, retailers you are working with might have some other favorites to add and every publisher should be able to find ways to tailor many of these to thier budgets.
  5. Build STREET TEAMS!!!!! I like the possibly less PC term Army but whatever you call it, I don't care what your promotional budget is, EVERYONE can afford a street team and if you're book(s) are worthy, you'll likely have more volunteers for your volunteer army than you can shake a stick at. Create a page on your site that tracks efforts by your Army to promote your project(s) and award points for these efforts, listing the top scorers on your front page as well. Host downlaodable ashcans, and other artbomb type items for their use. Give them ways to approach friends, family and businesses (legally and respectfully!) to help build recognition and readership. If you can't move your fans to action, who can you move?

    You know what else, a sketch, a signed issue/poster, a page, a t-shirt, being drawn into the panel of an issue... are all things that cost you very little $$$ but will be invaluable rewards to your fans.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Direct Market, If I were in Charge: Creators

Here it is, the wrap up but more than likely not my last words on the following. I'm going to break these up by group because I'm conceited enough to believe that folks will be rushing to share the pertinent info with the thousands of folks that desparately need it and I want to make it as easy to find as possible. ;)

Let's roll this the way it came up in the preceeding articles by starting again with the folks without whom none of this would matter...


  1. If I were in charge, any creator who is self publishing and purporting to create an ongoing commercial work (meaning they expect anyone to pay for it) would have to present a full business plan covering creation, publishing, marketing and financial responsibility for completion of the series to their distributor(s), before the first issue could be considered for solicitation.
  2. Could never solicit an issue that was not ready to print and for a story arc of 4 issues or less, could never solicit without the entire series being completely scripted and pencilled.
  3. Would make a full issue preview of each issue available for retailer consideration prior to it's distributor(s) order cutoff date.
  4. Would use the time needed to complete issues prior to solicitation, to build awareness via website, indy news sources, personal appearances, street teams, etc...
  5. Would create a retailer nework, supporting participating retailers with downloadable P.O.P. materials like sell sheets, sign-up flyers, mini posters and shelf talkers. Would create an info only website listing retailers known to support their product line and always try to identify a local brick and mortar retailer to fulfill customers inquires before selling direct to the customer.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Is This Thing On?

Now you know why this is being done via a free blog and not via column-for-hire...

So many projects so little time! I promise I will tie things up this weekend, in fact I sold off my Saturday and Sunday Padre tickets to gain some much needed minutes. They should be able to do without me for a few games, right? I've got faith, even though Bearoid Bonds and his Gints managed to split the opening series.

So what's got me so twisted? well, you might have seen this on the news sites:

Chris Ware, Warren Ellis Garner Most Nominations for 2006 Eisners

The Eisner nomination process ate up a lot more time than I thought, yeesh, and here I thought I was well read! Well it's over now although I miss my compadres Christopher Allen (Comic Book Galaxy), cartoonist/publisher John Gallangher (Buzzboy), editor Nisha Gopalan (Entertainment Weekly) and product manager Robert Randle (Diamond Comic Distributors), who got me through the ordeal.

I did have some personal victories (for lack of a better word since I didn't really have to fight much once the others heard my reasoning).
  • Kyle Baker has both his humorous work The Bakers and his reality based work Nat Turner, both self published through Kyle Baker Publishing, represented. He really deseves kudos on both fronts.
  • Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius got a nod in Best Publication for a Younger Audience for Marvel (who amazingly neglected to send deserving Brubaker and Bendis material for consideration). Why is this important? One of the most telling problems in the industry is the graying of the fanbase. FRSoaG was a great read, almost as great as Gus Beezer, and I hoped that it's inclusion would send a message to Marvel (and others) that if they continued to put out strong product for younger readers, it would not go unnoticed.
  • 24 Hour Comics Day Highlights 2005 (About Comics) is in for Best Anthology. In just 2 years, teeny tiny publisher About Comics has really put some fun and novelty back into comics. From 24HCBD to the recent Jam War, Nat Gertler has got folks as excited about making comics as they are about reading them in a way no other publisher has. It was extremely important that folks notice and support this work. I wouldn't be suprised to see some of these 24HCBD contributors nominated for future work.

Other than that, Comickaze is rocking!

New fixtures and floor plans will hopefully be finalized (at least this wave) by Free Comic Book Day (Saturday, May 6th, if you didn't know). New POS Software, an extra register for those busy days and DSL or Cable so I can shitcan my dial-up account once and for all and maybe even a new Comickaze logo and store sign will all hopefully be in place before Comic-Con in July.

What me worry? C-ya soon!