Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Evil Diamond Empire Keepin' the Little Guy Down

I've been going back and forth on the issue of Diamond's new policy about what comics they'll distribute. My knee-jerk reaction was to be concerned for my friends in the small press biz, and I still am. But there's a sentence in the Newsarama article about it that makes a lot of sense to me.

As proponents of the idea have said, the move will force smaller publishers and independent self-publishers out of a marketing plan that amounts to nothing other than “list it in Previews.”
That's not an entirely accurate statement. The typical small-press marketing plan also includes sending out press releases to comics news sites and spamming every comics messageboard they know about. And that's been shown to have a very limited impact. Small-press guys need to get smarter about marketing. So do DC and Marvel, for that matter, but that's a discussion for another day.

Ed Cunard has conveniently collected a lot of the discussion about this in a Low Road entry and there are a couple of points that I found especially interesting. The first was from a poster on the Newsarama board who wrote that marketing and promotion is "a lot of work, work that takes time away from actually making comics. (Small publishers) may not be able to afford it."

This is exactly why I don't want to get into small-press publishing as anything more serious than a hobby. I'm not a business guy. I'm certainly not a marketing and promotions guy. I love to write and that's what I want to spend my time doing. Creators who choose to also put on the Publishing Hat need to make sure that they know what they're getting into and have the skills to do it right. Take some classes at least. DC and Marvel can afford not to market very well because they've already got enough customers to let them coast. Small-press guys don't.

I love this quote by Damon Hurd that Ed includes in his post:

What i'm wondering is, if Diamond is saying you need to make $600 on a book or we won't distribute it, is that really so harsh?

I mean we decided to stop self-publishing Temporary once our orders hit the 700 mark with issue #4. 700 copies of our $2.95 book equals $826, which is above the 40% benchmark, but too low for us to continue. especially considering the print costs are $1400 (including fees and shipping) and we spend roughly $300 in promotion for each issue.

Why would a self-publisher really want to keep losing roughly $1000 on every issue they put out?

That's a question I'd love to hear answered, or at least debated.

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