Good morning, all.
Identifying the attitudes and problems is fine and good. Personally, I know them, I've lived them for 17 years.
Here's some of what I am trying to do to change how things are.
Three years ago, I launced Obscurity Unlimited, as a news/review source for small press. We've been building it each issue. We have at this point a couple hundred subscribers to the full color edition. We're also running a unique system where we're allowing people in different areas to develop B+W Local Editions. They can add local advertising to the proof copies we send them, and the local editions are then given away in local comic book, record, and other outlets that they can get it into. We now have 4 local editions running: In Cleveland, OH, N. New Jersey, Dallas, TX, and Chicago, IL. Together they put our circulation over 1000 copies, and we fully expect to keep growing in this area.
We're in the process of developing a Distribution system through the magazine. As individuals can order single copies of publications we review, retailers can now order multiple copies at the discount prices they expect from our distribution sheet from the publishers who have allowed us to order bulk from them. It's not a pre-order distributorship like, it's more like Cold Cut, although with the added tool of the retailer being able to have the magazine in their store to help create the interest in small press items.
We've got in place - originally suggested to us by Steve Noppinger, one of the principals behind the Potlatch benefit series, a Pick of the Month system, where people can subscribe to receive what the magazine chooses as the best new comic of the month in three different catagories: Full Size comic, Digest size, and Minicomic size. We think, as more people start subscribing to the service (we've got a healthy handfull to start), it could turn into a great way for a new comic to get jump-started every month.
We're also offering a pre-order/subscription service, so that any publisher we have a distribution deal with will be on a subscriptions list, and people can "subscribe" to get future issues of an individual title or everything the person produces, as they wish, and our subscription service doesn't charge the person until the book is delivered to their hands.
What all this does, is confront the problem of a fan of a small press comic missing issues head on. Comic stores can pre-order copies without paying for them until they arrive, as well as individuals, they each get sent user-specific lists (IE: individuals get a different price list than retailers do)
By working the different angles of different problems we hope to slowly turn the corner on how people perceive small press/independants. We hope everyone sees the benefit of that. How can you help? Just use the system. You can spend hundreds of dollars advertising in previews and end up with lackluster sales that won't support the series in the long run, or you can spend $40 on a full page ad in OU and help change the system that gets your book into the hands of new readers.
The Small Press Association, which is the organization that I created last year to bring together all the ideas and help develop this, now has close to 200 members, and we're growing fast. Joining is free, and is as simple as signing up for our forum at: www.dimestoreproductions.com/Forum
We have hundreds of other tools ready to be used by publishers. We also run a Talent pool, for those looking for talent to work with, and much more. The SPA is becoming active in Comics in the Classroom programs, to help bring the small press to the young, let kids see there's more to comics than spiderman, and help find and develop the interest of creating comics in the new generation.
So anyway, that's my whole story. That's the program I've spent years developing to hopefully get people to stop worrying about why small press gets a bad rep, and do something about it. Send ANYONE who has an interest in small press to Obscurity Unlimited. It's what it's here for. If anyone has any comments about this, I'm happy to hear them.
Ian Shires www.dimestoreproductions.com/Forum