Hocus Pocus Comics is in the House!

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Rebecca and I had a super busy week and the weekend was no walk in the park, either. But, hey, self-publishing is totally worth it. We have invested our blood, sweat, tears, time, money, and hearts into HP Comics, and I hope our love and dedication shines brightly in every story we tell.

Thank you for your continued support, friends. We couldn’t do this without our amazing patrons and readers!

-Dwight

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-D

Alternate Distribution Options Part 3: UPDATED

Thank You Very Much

I’d like to start off by saying an extra-big, Galactus-sized thank you to everyone who is taking the time to read my blog. I know more people are reading than commenting, but that’s fine. This is a controversial topic that many creators don’t wish to address publicly. Many felt more comfortable responding directly through PM, DM and e-mail. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I am thankful for every response I get. So please… keep ’em coming.

Get Your Work Out There

Let’s break it down: Until a site is created that offers comics in several different formats at the click of a button, the goal of using alternate distribution options must be to make your work available in as many formats as possible to increase your readership and potential for generating income. I know some will disagree, but think about it: if your work is available as–say–a webcomic (with Project Wonderful ads), hard copies (IndyPlanet), PDFs (Eagle One Media) and iPhone and iPod Touch files (iVerse Media), you have increased your potential to attract more readers and generate income. If your work is only available as a webcomic, however, you limit the reader’s options and the potential to generate revenue. Indie creators don’t have the resources or established fanbase for an undertaking like Marvel’s digital comic initiative that consolidates everything onto one site, but I would submit that their goal is very similar: making their product available in several different formats while increasing the potential to generate income.

You can’t go wrong basing your business model on the best in the industry.

Alternate Distribution Options by the Numbers, Continued

4. Eagle One Media – According to their site, EOM is known for “producing, marketing, and distributing high quality animated comic DVDs, series & educational products for the retail North American marketplace.” EOM has recently begun offering digital comic downloads as well. Publishers like IDW, Moonstone and Desperado Publishing are represented there–as well as smaller indie publishers. Eagle One Media does not require publishers to make their content exclusive, which is a bonus. I’ll get back to why this is important.

On EOM’s site, you can make your comics available for PDF download for a determined price. Readers pay, download the file and the money is deposited into your EOM account to be paid to you quarterly. It’s quick, easy and the staff is wonderful.

Bottom Line: You would not want to use EOM exclusively, but it may be a nice opportunity to increase readership and put a couple bucks in your pocket. If used in association with a webcomic and POD publisher, you may increase your readership and put a bit of cash in your pocket at the same time. On the other hand, EOM’s traffic has fallen 40% in the past three months. If you link to Eagle One Media on your site, however, you will drive readers to their site to download your books, so this may be a moot point. But make no mistake: you’re not going to get rich at Eagle One Media, but something’s better than nothing and you’re increasing your readership–right?

5. Myebook.com – Myebook offers comic books that can be read onscreen. They are modeled after Wowio’s pre-Platinum days. By having several sponsors, Myebooks is able to pay publishers a modest sum every time a reader views their books.

Bottom line: After having an attorney look over Myebook’s contract, I was directed not to sign it due to some vague legalese that appeared to give Myebook consent to publish hard copies of my books. Perhaps someone out there who is using Myebooks could chime in and tell me how it is working for them, but, in the meantime, I have to say that while providing another possible revenue stream, you may unknowingly be giving Myebook consent to publish your work in other formats.

Workin’ It

I would like to direct your attention to two sites that I believe have gotten it right:

The first site is Th3rdworld Studios. Th3rdworld offers their titles as webcomics and print copies. I have known Th3rdworld publisher Michael DeVito for several years, and he has intimated that each title will also be available as an on-site digital download in the near future. Michael is attempting to follow Marvel’s business model and I have to believe that he–and Th3rdworld–will succeed. In fact, I’ll be making an announcement that involves yours truly and Th3rdworld Studios. Keep an eye out for it.

The second site is Keenspot. Keenspot is a webcomic host site that–for a relatively small price–will host your webcomic. Customers are free to use Project Wonderful ads or “Donate buttons” where readers can “tip” the creator or creative team, and they also have hard copies of several webcomics available in their store. I have not used Keenspot, but I have only heard good things about them. Perhaps I’ll track down Chris Crosby to give me the lowdown.

Time to Fly

I’m afraid that’s all the time I have today, so I’m going to cut it off here. Listen: if you are using one of the aforementioned distribution outlets and have information that confirms or refutes what I’ve posted, please drop me a line at dwightmacpherson@gmail.com and let me know about it. I really want to present the most factual information available–and there’s no better way to do that than by offering firsthand and reliable secondhand information.

UPDATE: I have been contacted by a representative from Myebooks and will address their rebuttal tomorrow.

Alternate Distribution Options Intermission

Diamond Sounds Off

Diamond’s Bill Schanes finally offered an explanation for increasing their purchase order benchmark. Of course, they don’t intimate the reason for raising the benchmark by 66.666%. “Times are tough” just doesn’t cut it. Do not expect me to believe that Diamond is losing money. And, if they are, this smacks of a desperate move to avoid bankruptcy.

I Am The Law

Did you read this bit? “So when someone brings a new product to us, we look at previous sales on that same series, or with a like artist, or on a like product, and evaluate if we think the new product will hit that benchmark. If we think we can, then we’ll list them.” Diamond dictates which books get published and which don’t? And before you say “No. Only which books they distribute,” think logically about this. Do you honestly think that–say, Image–will publish a book if Diamond says it won’t distribute it? Diamond has essentially seized power from publishers, dictating what books they can or can’t publish. Name one other industry where a distributor dictates to companies what they can or can’t manufacture? Call me crazy, but isn’t a distributor’s role to–you know–distribute a product? And if the distribution cost isn’t covered, they simply send a bill to the manufacturer. This leaves the manufacturer with two choices: pony up or find another mode of distribution.

Traditional thought says there isn’t another option in the comic book industry because Diamond is a monopoly.

It’s time to retire this antiquated traditional thought and move into the 21st century.

It’s Go Time

Now is the time for small press creators and publishers to step into the digital age and seek alternate distribution options. Will creators wait until Diamond raises the benchmark another 67% or more? It would appear that the direct market is in the final stages of its protracted terminal disease and small press publishers will be the first to die. I know that sounds grim, but it’s better than the “I’m okay, you’re okay” obfuscation tactics we’re seeing now.

What is Success?

Before we delve into alternate distribution options any further, I believe it is vitally important for each creator to define success for him or herself. So what constitutes success in this industry to you?

  • 1. Having your work published by Marvel or DC.
    2. Having your work published by Image.
    3. Having your work appear in Previews magazine and distributed by Diamond.
    4. Having your work read by as many readers as possible.
    5. Turning a profit on your work.
  • If you answered 1: Let’s be realistic here. The probability of having your creator-owned book published by Marvel or DC is just above your chances of metamorphosing into a Palos Verde Blue and winging your way to Never Neverland. If this is what you consider success, forget about creator-owned books (for now) and start writing pitches featuring Marvel’s or DC’s characters and accumulating editors’ e-mail addresses. Or you could become a novelist or screenwriter. Marvel and DC love novelists and screenwriters.

    While this is an excellent goal for a comic book writer or artist, I have to wonder if a true creator could be content to write or draw someone else’s creations exclusively. Yes, I would love to write these iconic characters, but I would never be content as a creator to write them exclusively. Besides creating a plot… how much are most Marvel and DC writers actually allowed to create? And, if you are allowed to create a new character–as Todd McFarnale co-created Venom–do you really want to give your creation away? Ask Alan Moore if he thinks this is a wise idea.

    But I digress.

    If you answered 2: This is a realistic goal. Having done it myself, it is only necessary that you create an entertaining, dynamic property that features a professional, well-told story and fantastic art. Of course… with this new benchmark in place, it may not be so easy. As you may or may not have noticed, most new Image books these days are either written by “Big Name” writers or feature “Big Name” artists. Books created by unknown creators have become the exception rather than the rule in the recent past. But do not give up. If this is your definition of success, be tenacious and professional and diligent. It can be done.

    Of course, you face the very realistic possibility that your book will break even, lose money or be cancelled. It is very important that you grasp this reality before you submit your property to Image–or any other publisher. Sadly, the possibility of turning a profit on your work is not very good. If you need proof, please check out this article on Publishers Weekly if you have not already done so.

    If you answered 3: I have found myself chuckling several times when would-be creators tell me “If I can only get my book in Previews–then I’ll consider myself a pro comic writer/artist.” Seriously? Having your work listed amongst thousands of books makes you a professional? If this is your definition of success, your chances are very high–and I mean like astronomically high. But bear in mind: having your project appear in Previews–even a “front of Previews” publisher–does not ensure that your book will sell well enough to avoid cancellation and may just leave you indebted to the publisher… if Diamond approves the book to begin with.

    Sorry, had to get another jab in there.

    If you answered 4: I must admit that this is one of my definitions of success. As a storyteller first and foremost, I want my work to be seen and read by as many people as possible. That is why I have made my work available in many different formats. If this is your definition of success, I believe it is a very reasonable definition that every creator in a liberal arts medium would agree with.

    If your goal is to support yourself with your work, however, having your work read is simply not enough.

    If you answered 5: Congratulations… you’re a capitalist! In all seriousness, this is the most realistic definition of success. I have heard so many creators say “If I could only make enough money writing/drawing comics to quit my day job, I’d consider myself a successful creator” or something similar. After all… who wouldn’t like to create comics full-time while supporting oneself or one’s family? This–in addition to #4–constitutes my definition of success. If I can have my work seen by many, many people and make a living doing it, I will consider myself a success. I’m almost there, but not quite yet.

    Aim High

    Listen… every human being must have goals. Without goals, you’re basically spinning your wheels in this world. If your definition of success is options 1,2 or 3, I would submit that they should not be the destination, but rather stops along the journey; short-term goals that lead to the accomplishment of your ultimate goal. I encourage you to set short-term goals for yourself. But I would also encourage you to look at the bigger picture and realize that you can accomplish more than you ever dreamed if you refuse to give up. No goal is too lofty if you have the determination, tenacity and skill to accomplish it. I believe President Obama is a wonderful source of inspiration and proof that we can seize the stars if we refuse to stop reaching for them.

    Hasta

    Speaking of short-term goals, I need to leave for class. Thank you for reading, and I hope to “see” you tomorrow. Now… get out there and succeed!