Saturday, October 3, 2009

Indy Comic Book Week

Here's the ICBW website. When I was originally beginning to work with this event, I mistook it for an actual independent comics event. From what I've been able to glean in email messages, it's been put together by industry distribution and art people who fear for their jobs in a failing bookstore world.

I love the comics shops and bookstores. I also wish to make it clear that I hope the very best for this event. But it may not be possible for traditional shops to survive in a world where the author no longer has to go through middlemen, and can speak and sell directly to readers (ie customers). Many of us find working with middlemen too difficult and time-consuming, and have turned to print-on-demand, with ad-powered webcomics. Our readers have left the shops and followed us online. This is great for us, but it leaves the middlemen completely out of the loop. We get paid, they don't. Distributors turn into second-hand stores because they can't get our books new. Or not yet; they may figure that out in the future.

The site wants to place a lot of strictures on book authors, limitations which were traditional in the old distribution and retail world, but which we now no longer use in doing business. None of the authors have signed any contracts with the event. And I, for one have to stay within my own business model. This may or may not work with a traditional event. But it's only the first year. It takes a while to establish these things.

I still want to cooperate with this event to try to bring my customers back to retail outlets, but I have to make my own offer to the retailers. This is how it works: I need to have all retailer orders to me by November 30, to make the Ka-Blam deadline. This one time, I can pay shipping -- or I can offer 50% off. Otherwise, it's 45% off. This is not normally how I do business, but I'm doing it for the event. Print-on-demand works as an automatic engine, and normally I would not be involved in any sales (with some backstock and special exceptions; see below).

Ka-Blam is working to take advantage of the event. They will be printing new, competitively-priced comics POD editions of all my books. A choice of the books so far is at Indyplanet, search "The Desert Peach." Those are the retail prices.

For a list of all my available books, click "The Little Store" in the column to the right.

Anything at can be ordered directly on-line by any retailer, for the same wholesale price available to customers and distributors. You just can't get these deals unless you use the site to order directly. It's as low as the prices for Lulu POD go. I DO have some extra copies that can be included in a direct order, but you need to make your needs clear very early, in case I don't have any more, at least for now.

BUT -- The special AFTERDEAD 1 and 2 collection special must be ordered through The Little Store, but you will receive the same special price as any direct-order customer. These are near-wholesale prices, and you can order as many or as few as you need or like.

PLUS: I'm clearing out her (non-POD) backstock. All of it. Retailers can get amazing deals during the Indy Comics Weeks. Contact her through this blog site and just ask.

Packages: Put together your dream package and let's negotiate to make your store and me some sales and profits. And -- most importantly -- to make my customers very happy and bring them into your store. I tend to throw in bonuses and goodies.

It's not that bad a deal.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Advice to Academia

Recently I had one of my culture clashes. It was between the professional artist and the fan/academic world.

I sorta promised to be part of a charity - which one does not matter. It's something I'm concerned about, but that I've been working on a long time. My inclusion or not in any project about it won't really matter. I want to admit that I used to do a lot of fan projects, including donating pages for advertising, charities, and even putting books together like this one myself. It's something we all do, as part of the learning process, and not something I regret.

But I've been at this a long time. I need to pick and choose what I support, and a partial promise to be part of a charitable project doesn't guarantee it will go to the head of the line; you get what you pay for, folks (unless it's an artist in trouble or needing health care; then I donate anything I can give). I'm also commissioned by paying customers and they come first.

I'm rather busy right now getting all the pages up for the Desert Peach website and the books processed for Indyplanet. Among other things.

I recently became part of the movement to teach artists and writers to always get paid, and stop acting like they're part of a usable free pot of pretty stuff, especially in America (besides, anybody who does so is a damn scab). Things sort of spiralled downhill from there. Someplace in activism, it often does. Heads get butted before I wander off grumbling and then attempt to analyze the problem.

So here are some simple rules for academics:

First of all, PRO UP:

1. Do not approach professional artists without offering payment for any projects. This includes charities or educational projects, which can be deducted for taxes; do the research and paperwork on becoming a non-profit.

2. As professors, you should be well aware of the methods of discovering and applying for academic funding. Do so, when looking for funds for shipping and advertising. Offer each comics artist at LEAST $150.00 per page -- for use alone. Add (don't replace payment) an option for royalties. If you find legitimate academic funding, you will lend professionalism and recognition to the project.

3. Do not presume to browbeat a professional artist as you do your students. Whatever you think or make up about art or writing will always be far behind what the creators are actually doing, and they will always be doing it for completely different reasons than you can actually imagine.

Remember: FINANCE, FUND and don't FUSS.