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#279233 - 03/31/99 01:57 AM Re: "Self" Publishing
Raven Offline

Registered: 03/29/99
Posts: 238
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Thanks guys, I appreciate the effort. However, that is the stuff I already pretty much knew, because I spent 2 years prior to even trying to make comics investigating the business. The problem I have with Diamond is their 5 month quota, having to gross a certain amount etc etc. BUT what I have decided to do is have two distinct complete first issues of two different books completely done, B&W, which will then be used to make ashcans to get feedback. My printer of choice is Kinko's they do all the things good printers should do, I once got them to print a bunch of posters off, and not likely how they looked blown up, I changed my wind and paid nothing. The number one problem righ t now is the money, other than that i am pretty good to go, and I really appreciate you guys giving me so much info, we should post it somewhere where people who haven't done the research yet can learn these important things. Hopefully, when the time comes i will be able to get my Mother to do the business end of things, or one of the artists I am working with has two parents who are artists which is great.
I am hoping to pass off some ideas to Marvel for books, hopefully to make money, but they are impossible people to infiltrate, they have the place locked down internetically, and I hate harassing people I have never spoke to. Oh well, I will show you guys some work as soon as I can get it online, maybe tommorrow.


#279234 - 03/31/99 02:29 AM Re: "Self" Publishing
Sean Murphy Offline

Registered: 03/30/99
Posts: 1481
Loc: State of Confusion
Thanks everyone for your responses, especially you, Steve. Rich and Glenn, I appreciate the advice, but on this particular thread I'm more curious about my original topic: Is "self-publishing" a misnomer? So far, Rick Vietch is the only one who said they did everything themselves.

Rich Henn, I'm curious, do you think you would have the time and energy to handle all the business aspects of your book if you didn't have help writing and inking (especially the inking)?

One last nitpicky thing, Colleen Doran is being published by Image now, so I guess she wasn't pleased with the results of her adventure in self-publishing.

[This message has been edited by Sean Murphy (edited 03-31-99).]

[This message has been edited by Sean Murphy (edited 03-31-99).]

#279235 - 03/31/99 04:56 AM Re: "Self" Publishing
Stephen R Bissette Offline

Registered: 11/27/98
Posts: 939
Loc: wilmington, VT USA
Sean --

Sorry about the tangent; your posting about spouses, though, took me there.

Ya, I SELF-published TYRANT and SPIDERBABY COMIX, which I suppose is a pretty strong argument against my ability to do so. Still, something of value came of it, I registered the trademarks and have a sizeable body of work to work with down the road, when there is a viable market to work with. I know now I CAN do it, but also know what I can't do, or can only engage with once I am able.

The only help I got was from my friend Alan Goldstein, who helped me typeset the text features (for which I paid), Diana Schutz's proof-reading (for which I paid), a local print shop for halftones and reverses (for which I paid), and my printer (for which I paid). My printer handled all initial drop-ships, and subsequent Diamond relisting shipments, but I handled everything else, including boxing, shipping, invoicing, and tracking orders.

It is a real juggling act, and one which I was fairly adept at for a year and a half. The business inevitably distracts from the creative work, but for me the entire process was so pleasurable -- for the first time, for a brief two-year period, I felt some control over my work, and a real connection to my buyers and readers -- that it was all of a piece. Very organic process, by issue TYRANT #3.

Part of the problem, though, was the pleasure I took in the process. I would fret and fidget over every detail of an issue before letting it go. I redrew all of #3 in a three month period, because the first version (three-and-a-half years in the making) didn't satisfy me. I still have literally three issues' worth of typeset text pages for TYRANT and SPIDERBABY eacvh, all ready to go -- some of which I'm finally going to post on my table.

And I did it alone -- in fact, I never let ANYONE (save my kids) see pages until an issue was done. After years of collaborative effort upon work-for-hire collaborative effort, I was obsessively private about the process. I wanted to be left alone completely to do it, and felt more connected to my work than ever before.

Unlike Dave Sim, though, I have never been adept at shielding myself completely from the emotional turmoil of life, using my work as the shield. Rick Veitch and Tim Truman are among my longtime friends who also seem able to just work through a crisis situation. For me, I have never been able to strong-arm my family, friends, etc. away from my time enough to make the drawing process the be-all and end-all. Thus, the mounting emotional storms, good and bad, were the equal of the distintegrating direct sale market and collapsing distribution network for me.

I have two kids, and their needs came and come FIRST. My marriage was over, I was living alone half of each week, putting my kids' first for the three-four days a week they were with me. Thus, half-weeks were what I could give to the entire workload, and this slowed my work progress.

As I was riding the crash wave down from the marriage collapse, the subsequent speed bumps of friendships being abruptly cut off, (more divorces, in effect, and one by death) were equally devastating blows. This took a toll, and there were days and weeks were I produced little work I considered worthy of print. The internal landscape was pretty rocky, and not condusive to the the challenges and needs of self-publishing. One must care about and believe in what one is doing to sustain the effort, and I cared less and less and believed not at all at times.

Part of my 1997-98 crash and burn, aside from the emotional issues and my laboriously slow output, was the one-two punch of (a) marriage imploding (actually predated the self-publishing, but the emotional, financial, and legal tangle became more and more pressing in the wake of TYRANT's launch) and (b) distribution imploding. Both led to a fiscal nightmare, and I'm still damn near bankruptcy.

I was my own worst enemy in the end. Slow, slow, slow. On top of that age-old demon for me, outside world issues intruded -- the business bugaboos -- essentially, the kind of things fucntional partners in other "self-" publishing ventures cushion the creative "lead" from (i.e., Dave and Gerhard, the Laphams, the Smiths, etc.). There were no cushions of any kind, until I kindled a relationship with my current partner in life -- a decidedly positive development for me, but another emotional pull away from the double-edged sword of the selfless/selfish creative life. That emotional partnership does not, and probably will never, extend into the creative or business affairs of SpiderBaby, though -- my choice, and hers.

And as the venerable TIMESPELL creator said, it DOES take money -- and once that began to dry up due to (a), (b), and (c) my slow progress, I had to make all the hard decisions and take the heat for them.

Ultimately, self-publishing is, as the term implies, a SELFISH process. Some folks are willing to pay the price of integrating their obsessive ventures into the lives of those around them -- when they are lucky, bonding the venture WITH their emotional lives and forming the kind of partnerships we are discussing. Others are willing to pay the price necessary to alienate themselves from those around them to accomodate the unswerving, unquestionable dedication to the WORK -- meaning, often, no spouses, kids, or family, or, in some cases, spouses, kids, etc. both dependent on and tolerant of the necessary distance and demands the self-publishers requires to "succeed."

In the end, I could do neither, and so struggled to make ends meet while making due with what little time my life currently permits for creative work.

None of this is simple, or straightforward. There are no templates that can be applied to any or all situations.

That said, the functional partnerships I've seen -- Dave and Gerhard, Jeff and Vijaya, the Laphams, etc. -- are enviable. But if you don't have, find, or even want that, you make due with what you can accomplish. [Usually, that drives a lone creator to seek further avenues -- i.e., Paul Pope, for instance, building bridges to publishers at the cost of the self-publishing operation.]

Understand that the fruits of one such partnership yielded -- Rick was brainstorming "something" like this for years, but it wasn't until he and Steve Conley met and joined forces that history was made.

Just as Dave pressed me to find a "Gerhard," Rick reminds me monthly that NOW is the time to establish an outpost on the internet for my unique interests -- but alas, I never met my Gerhard, and there's no Steve Conley in the wings, either.

Slow as a glacier as I may be, I'm resigned to going it alone in comics. I tasted it for a time, and it tasted fucking GOOD. Once I'm through the divorce -- or once my teenagers are grown and off in the world, and I can selfishly build my world around my work once again -- I intend to sip from that well as deeply as I can.

P.S. - Raven -- Good luck with Marvel, but please be careful. Don't hang your hat on the hopes of landing anything with any of the mainstream publishers in the current bottleneck. Even in the best of times, publishers are difficult gambles. Really, best of luck, but be careful.

[This message has been edited by Stephen R Bissette (edited 03-31-99).]

#279236 - 03/31/99 03:10 PM Re: "Self" Publishing
jenny gonzalez Offline

Registered: 02/16/99
Posts: 1128
Money and time are the ass kickers in self-publishing. Money because printing up even the simplest black and white ashcans can add up, plus the postage of mailing them out to people, etc. Time because it can be very time consuming and often, if you're putting things in stores on consignment there's often constraints ("the manager is only here between 3-6, Mondays and Thursdays," that kind of stuff) But it's worth it to have a tangible product. You have to start building somewhere, you know?

Jenny Gonzalez,
Kronikle Komix
Jenny Gonzalez,

#279237 - 04/01/99 12:14 AM Re: "Self" Publishing
Tak Toyoshima Offline

Registered: 11/24/98
Posts: 251
Loc: Boston,MA USA
Let's all chip in for lottery tickets and split the winnings. Then maybe I could publish The Couch #2.


#279238 - 04/01/99 12:33 AM Re: "Self" Publishing
Sean Murphy Offline

Registered: 03/30/99
Posts: 1481
Loc: State of Confusion
Oh dear.
Steve, thank you for your very personal and detailed post. I didn't mean to imply that you were getting off topic by bringing up your situation. I was just referring to the guys who were starting to give advice about self-publishing in general. Maybe that could be a whole seperate thread?

Obviously, the type of help Steve said he had is not in the same category as the people in my first post. Spouses work for free, or at least you don't have to pay them up front. And it never occured to me before, but it must be a huge difference having a partner who actually works with you, versus one who is competing with your work for your time.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for responding, I hope to hear from more of you out there.

#279239 - 04/01/99 12:48 AM Re: "Self" Publishing
hork1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/01/99
Posts: 2
Loc: clovis CA
I do believe that Drew Hayes of Poison Elves started out doing everything by himself. He had a wife at the time, but I don't think that she helped him do any part of his book.


#279240 - 04/01/99 09:12 AM Re: "Self" Publishing
Mike Manley Offline

Registered: 11/26/98
Posts: 177
Loc: Upper Darby, PA
In answer to your "self-publishing" questions Sean, I am one of the " do it all yourself" types. I started in 1995 and still have at least one more book coming out, (Hot Twisted Love) due out in May. I did it all myself, got the lawyers, trademark lawyers, printers, etc. I'm lucky that the other artistrs I printed are best buddies so it helped a lot when it came to stuffing reorders and calling retailers in other states.

I would offer just a few kernals of advice.

1. get 3 issues done or as close to being done before you start printing. Lord knows unless you have a hit right off you've got lots of footwork to do, to sell it. Cons, shows, press releases, mail-outs, reorders etc. And like most self-publishers, I'm sure you have a real job.

2. Set aside the amount of money you can afford to either loose or tie up for 3-5 years. It takes a while to get the ball rolling. I still have plenty of back issues left on some of my books, 4 years into the game. Some are almost sold out, but I still have hundreds of some.

Think long term.....

3. Get all your trade marks and copyright forms etc. Do a trade mark search on your characters and when they are clear, trademark them. Be sure to send copies to the library of congress in Wash. DC when your books come out.

4. Keep scrupulous records. Build up a mailing list at cons. have folks give you their e-mail addresses. This way you will build a data base of folks who you know like your work

5. Get a web site. the web is a the cheapest way to reach the most people for the buck, and gets cheaper everyday. Great way to preview your work, and sell it on line. Get in on the " connect-sales market" thing Rick V. is championning.

6. Have fun!! Because if you are not having fun-why do it?

Mike Manley

Action Planet Comics- a galaxy of talent just a mouse click away! Home of Mike
Manley's Monsterman and the NEW weekly On-Line Comic G.I.R.L.
Patrol! Featuring work by Ordway, Blevins, Hester, Heebink, Parks and
Villagran. Pull up a comfy chair, sit and read our comics at:
Snail mail at: P.O. Box 2129 Upper Darby, PA 19082(/url)
Mike Manley
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Visit the Action Planet message board


#279241 - 04/01/99 09:19 AM Re: "Self" Publishing
AndyFish Offline

Registered: 01/13/99
Posts: 142
Loc: Boston, MA.
All this advice regarding small press publishing brings up an idea I had some time ago;
I was thinking of starting something called "SPCC"- Small Press Creators Coalition. It would accomplish some of the following;
*Banner swaps for websites, linking to a central page which would list all members of the coalition.
*Distribution of each others ashcans, books, previews in various geographic areas of the country. For example, it was previously discussed that GIVING OUT FREE ashcans of your book is a sound bit of advice, and I'd have to agree. It was also mentioned that postage can be pretty steep. What if I had 100 copies of your ashcan that I could hand out at a convention in New York City, while you were handing out mine at a convention in San Diego? We could also use the FREE copies as incentives to sell our own book (Hey, buy my book and get all this other stuff free), or we could simply drop each others ashcans off in the free area of our local cons.
I took 750 copies of an ashcan for my upcoming comic from Blue Monkey Comics to a show in NYC last month, and people were grabbing them out of my hand.
It would have cost me roughly $400 to mail those same ashcans out to people. Yes, it would be a pain in the ass carrying the extra stuff to a show, but isn't it worth it to get YOUR work out to an area you can't market?
*I also thought of starting some type of mailing list via which would allow us to discuss 'small press' issues, ideas, promotions we've thought of that worked, ways to save money on printing, etc.
The possibilities are endless. There would be no fees, but membership would be dependent on honesty (That you will actually do what you've said you would).
If there is any interest in this at all, contact me at;
Robo Picto Books
Andy Fish Website

#279242 - 04/03/99 04:12 PM Re: "Self" Publishing
BClayMoore Offline

Registered: 01/05/99
Posts: 90
Loc: Kansas City, KS
Good topic, great discussion. I talked this over with some folks who self-publish while at the KC Planetcon this weekend, and it's something I discuss a lot with comic folk I know.

One thing I would recommend is
over-budgeting. Don't try to pinch pennies when drawing up a budget, and don't take shortcuts. If you can't afford to produce the book on quality paper with a professional looking layout, and won't support it with advertising, promotional appearances and by giving copies away...then don't do it.


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