- Posted by Johanna on June 9, 2013 at 10:52 am
- Category: LinkBlogging
Brian Hibbs makes a very smart point I hadn’t thought about:
Speaking as a retailer, there is not a single book that has been “kickstarted” yet that went on to sell a meaningful number of copies at retail for me. I’m at try #9 or 10, I think, and 10 and 20% sell-throughs are just death for us. …
Someone, eventually, will crack the code on how to KS something that leads to long-term, lasting, and meaningful sales in a variety of markets, and I hope Rucka & Burchett are the people who can do so, but as the market stands this instant, KS-ing a book marks it as “super risky” in the retail market.
Personally, I’d rather buy through a shop or bookstore, because it provides more protection for me — I’m able to see the work, I can purchase using a method of my choice, I know the book will appear — but the Kickstarters I’ve purchased are titles that I’m not sure will ever appear there. Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe the dedicated customers have already bought the comic. Or maybe the creators using Kickstarter aren’t thinking about the long-term, about making a series instead of getting their book printed. And some of those that are looking to serialize seem to think that they can just Kickstart issue after issue, which doesn’t seem like a viable strategy, since there’s likely to be a significant dropoff. You can’t keep going back to that well the same way.
But I digress. Doing marketing to achieve a successful Kickstarter is a lot of work, and doing it all again to sell a project into the direct market may seem like too much effort for too little reward. I think creators should print more than they’ve presold, so there’s an option for customers who didn’t happen to hear about the Kickstarter in time or to build awareness or growth, but going through Diamond may not make sense for them. Kickstarter is another, parallel market, not a comic store feeder system.
Then again, the Diamond system, with its order minimums, isn’t particularly friendly to some kinds of print projects. Here’s a story of a miniseries that was cancelled due to declining orders and delayed releases.
Orders for issue #2 dropped dramatically. Some of this is on the publisher and creative team. For various reasons, we weren’t able to keep a monthly, or even bi-monthly schedule. And I do believe that hurts you in the direct market—hell, in any market. Consistency and regularity, a pace that matches the frequency of the overall market and the expectation of the paying customer—that’s valuable.
They’re going to digital issues with an eventual print collection. I know Hibbs and other retailers will disagree with me, but I don’t understand why anyone would do a print comic miniseries today. Sell me a book. They’re easier to ship, you get more money for them, and they’re more rewarding reading. The only problem is keeping everyone fed while the pages are made. And that’s where the Kickstarter comes in — instead of selling lumps of story, you sell merchandise or art.
Digital isn’t an automatic fix, either. It’s as easy, these days, to get lost in the ComiXology search screens as it is in the Previews catalog. The smart creators and publishers realize that getting into the venue is only the first step. There’s still a lot more work to be done in selling to the end customer, because the distributor and/or the retailer won’t do it for you.