NewsBit LinkBlogging

This is the first mention I’ve seen of a planned sequel to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home to be called Love Life: A Case Study. Yay!

Joshua Hale Fialkov and Noel Tuazon are following up their due-soon Elks’ Run with Three Rivers. Joshua sends along the following description:

The book is told as a series of short stories revolving around the lives of two friends, and how their relationship changes and grows from puberty through adulthood. Rendered beautifully in black and white by Noel, the book is a true creative successor to Elk’s Run.

The plan for right now is to put up a new chapter every month for free, with access to the archive for a buck a month. In that archive, you can also access a bunch of my early mini-comics, comics by Noel, and some of my Western Tales of Terror stories.

The prelude is online now. Which seems to indicate that this creator, at least has answered the next question for himself. Should you put your comics online? (via) There’s no right decision for everyone, but here’s a rundown of the key issues to think about by Steven Stwalley. I’d heartily like to second this point:

It is relatively easy to offer online RSS subscriptions which make it so people who subscribe will see whenever you post something new… unfortunately I don’t think a lot of the free comics services offer this, and this part is really key to building an audience.

He gives a lot more information on RSS in his followup post. And his conclusion

The bottom line, though, is that there is no more effective way to generate interest in your work, build an audience, and inexpensively distribute your work than the internet.

ties nicely into Guy LeCharles Gonzalez’s latest Marketing Monday column, in which he elaborates on the need for professional design, trade dress, and websites. The latter is of particular interest to me. I tend to do my research for stories and (especially) Previews recommendation posts in off-hours, nights and weekends. If you want to give me and other potential customers more information, have your website ready to answer questions.

Your website should, at a minimum, include:

1) Definitive URLs (“.com” and “.net”) for the publisher and individual titles;
2) A regularly updated blog;
3) Individual landing pages for every publication and creator;
4) PDF and JPG samples of all publications, current, upcoming, and backlist;
5) Mailing list;
6) Publisher and creator contact information;
7) Release schedules and distributor/retailers list;
8) Online store, via CafePress or similar POD provider, for brand-extension merchandising

Personally, I don’t care about the latter, but it does attract a certain type of reader who wants to be in on the hot new thing OR who will buy a cool-looking shirt regardless of what they think about the comic (which can be a nice bonus source of income). The samples are the most important thing, in my mind, followed by contact information and release schedules. Guy goes on to talk pros’n’cons for a certain type of interaction:

I’ve purposefully left message boards off of this list because they are a tricky proposition and can lead to various levels of frustration and/or embarrassment. Poke around the various forums on Image’s site and in most of them you’ll find a dozen or so people hanging around, an awkward combination of fans and sycophants, most aspiring creators themselves, cheerleading the efforts of their fellow creators or talking smack amongst themselves as if they were hanging out in each others’ living rooms. Several other publishers host almost barren forums that are little more than repositories for unread press releases and updates on shipping delays.

As always, if you can’t do it right, don’t do it. Which seems to be how DC’s feeling these days about Wonder Woman.

I was flabbergasted to see them so obviously cut bait and run on their long-delayed Hollywood writer’s run. (Literally. When this came in, my mouth fell open.)

WONDER WOMAN #5 (JAN070319), which was previously slated to feature the final chapter of the 5-part story “Who Is Wonder Woman,” will feature a new story when it arrives in stores on March 14. … Chapter five of “Who Is Wonder Woman” will be rescheduled at a future date. … Also, orders for the WONDER WOMAN: WHO IS WONDER WOMAN? HC (FEB070299) have been cancelled. This title will be resolicited at a future date.

“At a future date” means “we have no idea and we no longer care”, in my reading. Which is what retailers and readers have been saying. Sure, everyone wants good stories, but they also want their serialized fiction to come out in a somewhat regular fashion.

(I didn’t think the storyline was all that good, myself. It read to me like listening to a fan gush: oh, and then she fought Cheetah, and she’s cool! And Dr. Giganta, that was another classic villain! And wouldn’t it be neat if Wonder Girl became Wonder Woman? He ran all kinds of supporting cast on-stage, but there wasn’t much actual story or characterization there, just playing with the big toys. What a shame that this foul-up kept Wonder Woman out of much of 52.)

Anyway, there’s been speculation over DC will handle the end of this story, when/if it finally appears. Why couldn’t they hand off the plot to someone else to complete? Is there even a finished plot to conclude the story? Will they release a special or annual, to avoid disrupting numbering of the series? Does it even matter, since they’re aiming for eventual collection?

Last, let’s take a look at some of the discussion around Brian Hibbs’ look at year-end book sales (originally posted at Newsarama, link no longer available). I admit, it’s a dense post, and I had to force myself through it, since I already knew that his conclusion would be “the direct market is still VERY important to comics, and publishers should pay more attention to us.” I joke, but that approach to the data is completely understandable, and at least he makes his biases clear.

I’ve found more useful (to me) information to be gleaned from the various analyses and reactions. Of particular interest:

  • John Jakala explores First Second’s lack of ranking, comparing Brian’s conclusions with First Second print runs. He concludes that, as with most sales ranking lists, the data might be off and interpretation is based on assumptions, so it’s better to examine them for trends than specific figures.
  • MangaBlog presents the manga-related detail with handy bullet points. In summary: book-format comic sales are all about the manga, and within manga, it’s all about Viz, especially popular long-running series.
  • Tom Spurgeon concludes “when Hibbs in his summary statement says the Direct Market is ‘holding their own,’ he betrays a lingering mindset of competition for consumer dollars and publisher attention that is better ignored.” I don’t want to do his reasoning a disservice, so go read lots more in the link.
  • Heidi MacDonald addresses the manga issue and provides some big-picture bookstore context: “[M]ost of the book sales gurus we talk too seem to think that indie bookstores are undiscovered country for GN sales, not a hallowed redoubt. It’s also good to keep degree in mind. In the book world any sales over 5 figures is probably in the realm of the break even point, if the advance wasn’t too outrageous. Even modest sales of 5,000-8,000 can be considered strong for a small book publisher.”

6 Responses to “NewsBit LinkBlogging”

  1. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    Even modest sales of 5,000-8,000 can be considered strong for a small book publisher.

    Excellent point by Heidi that a lot of the direct market-focused, wannabe-Images and the creators they prey on publish don’t seem to understand.

    And yes, RSS feeds are an absolute must and I can’t believe I forgot to include them on the list! D’oh!

  2. caleb Says:

    What flabbergasts me about Wonder Woman is that the issues, as long as they apparently take to write, aren’t very good. There’s little evidence of research–and not like, FROM HELL or PROMETHEA level of research, but just, where is this character supposed to be this month, and so on–or complexity. It’s just, this person shows up and they fight. Then this person joins the fight. And then this person. I sort of wish DC would just relaunch the series with a new #1 when Picoult’s run starts; it’d be easier to market that way, and easier to ignore the existence of the “Who is Wonder Woman?” story.

  3. Lyle Says:

    Guy, I presumed you were indirectly talking about RSS when you mentioned having a blog. I found myself not agreeing with that part of your list since I’ve seen a number of company blogs that didn’t show much understanding of blogging, but when I thought of it as a system of posting news with an RSS feed, I could see the importance.

  4. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez Says:

    Lyle, I probably was equating blogs with RSS subconciously, but I’m trying to be as specific and overt about my suggestions as I can be in these columns. And yes, what to do with any given tool is as important as recognizing the need for the tool itself, and is something I’ll get into more down the line. The two links in the first paragraph, and the final footnote peripherally addressed those points.

  5. James Schee Says:

    I really wanted to like Heinberg’s WW, as he seemed to do so well with the female characters in Young Avengers. Yet whether through lack on attention or whatever the issues I flipped through were plain bad.

    I sort of wonder if DC might start rethinking how and who they put on their regular series given the delays. This with WW, the Donner/Johns Superman stuff, All Star Batman and SO many others.

  6. Juggling the BookScan Numbers » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] to keep in mind. I wasn’t even sure I’d bother commenting this year, until I found my 2007 roundup (scroll to the bottom) and realized that I found it amusing to see how repetitive it all [...]

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