Recently I sent a letter to Dave Sim and one of the things within was my outline for how, at the time, I approached publishing my Axiom-man comic book series. The other day I got an email from the A Moment of Cerebus website along with a letter from Dave suggesting that Tim, the owner of the site, run my 8-step model. So I said yes and the 8-step model ran on the site today. I’ve copy/pasted the 8 steps here for archive reasons, but please visit A Moment of Cerebus for the article, Dave’s comment, and also for the other cool Cerebus-related stuff on that site.
Since my company is web-based, with 95% of books ordered being online (whether for print or eBooks), the remaining 5% sold at conventions and booksignings, and since I’ve been able to sustain a living for close to three years based on that, and given the state of tech these days, I think I’m onto something.
Though I’ve slipped recently due to a major burn-out but am now getting back on track, I agree that, as you’ve stated – can’t remember where – that when folks ask you for the secret to Cerebus’ success, you said keeping the book on time is the reason. I believe you. On-time books keep readers interested, give them their fix at regular intervals, and, assuming the sales are there, enables the creator to maintain a steady level of interest as he can sink all his time into his book instead of dividing the comic against a day job.
Here is my current model for Axiom-man. I’m open to any feedback and/or suggestions and/or “what you’re doing is crazy” comments:
1) Release the book on time in print, electronic download, and twice a week post a page from the comic on Mondays and Thursdays. The reason for the webcomic is to raise awareness of the character to help feed print sales and downloads, likewise, if folks like what they read, they will be apt to pick up one or more of my novels.
2) Forego Diamond for the print periodicals. Due to finances, discounts and such, I’m opting out of Diamond Distribution for the monthly book, instead releasing the copies of the comic for direct sale, short-running each issue at 300 copies. This cost enables me to keep the price low on the book and still make close to a buck an issue. Direct sales include direct ordering, conventions, booksignings, and trunk-of-the-car sales.
3) Release each print issue through Ka-Blam (which is like ComiXpress), and utilize their print and digital storefront at Indy Planet and Indy Planet Digital respectively.
4) Release each issue in digital format through as many channels as possible (Kindle, Nook, iPad et al.), treating each download as if they are the print counterpart. A sale’s a sale, after all.
5) Once a particular story arc is complete, collected into a graphic novel. Also, ala Mike Mignola, include a bonus story to set the graphic novel apart from the periodical book.
6) Use Diamond for graphic novel distribution.
7) Use my printer’s amazing distribution system to make the graphic novel available to all the online hotspots like Amazon.com and its sister sites, Barnes and Noble.com, and others. Also offer for direct sale, whether by order, conventions, booksignings, trunk-of-the-car sales, etc.
8) Offer the graphic novel at a fair price for digital download via all the same channels the periodical was. Perhaps offer the same direct as long as I can ensure proper shopping cart procedure and security through services out there that specialize in online digital product ordering.
Part of being a one-man-band, as you know, is time management as it would be all too easy to turn the running of the company into the fulltime job and not the creating of comics. All of what I mentioned above–aside from direct sales–is based on the do-the-work-once-than-don’t-worry-about-it model I’ve been using for eight years. This then frees up time for creating, marketing, and personal time with family. Might even be time for sleep, if you’re into that sort of thing. Har har.
Added for the sake of the article:
The idea(l), I think, is to cast as wide a net as possible distribution-wise without unintentionally getting yourself into a sea of paperwork and a big mess of places to keep track of, in turn losing yourself in the chaos and losing money and time as a result. Streamlining is so critical when it comes to being a one-man operation. I’ll keep an updated list of distribution channels on my blog How To Self-Publish Books & Comics The Right Way.