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Producing your own cartoon book
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steve
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Joined: 20 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2002 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all. I'm new here. I'm the cartoonist of "Strange Breed". I'm having a cartoon book, of 300 of my cartoons, published by a small publishing company that prints books via the "Print-on-Demand" concept. The start up cost is very low to get started. Since I'm a fellow cartoonist, I just thought I should share this info. Is anyone interested in this?

Steve, "Strange Breed"
http://www2.hi.net/s4/strangebreed.htm
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davem
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Joined: 21 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2002 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good idea- so this way I can order a printed book directly from your web site? Does it cost me more than if I bought it off a shelf in a shop?

This idea reminds me of the facility with Apple computer's new software iPhoto, which lets you request a printed bound book of your digital photos, via the web.

Is the system working- have you sold many yet this way?
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2002 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes- Details, please. I think we're all interested in the cost to the artist of such a venture and how it would work. Does the company you're publishing with have a website of their own? Are there other similar companies that you've seen? And as you move forward with this, it would be good to hear of the progress- where you've succeeded and (even more importantly) what you've learned and where you think you might do better.

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steve
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2002 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave and Greg,

Here's the "book info". Just do me one favor, please tell the publisher, Kim Blagg, that I sent you, that is all I ask. Thanks. Here's the info:

It is called "print on demand". You provide the cartoons or the scanned in cartoons as .tiff files and a colored cartoon for the cover and that is it. There is a very small start up cost and a contract to sign. Then the company takes the money back on each book sold to cover expenses, then they keep 25% and you keep 75% of the profits. You also keep all rights.
The company is called "Page Free Publishing". They are legit and have published over 150 professional looking books, with text and graphics. They also place you with some of the major book selling web sites and get you an ISBN number.
Their website is at:

http://www.pagefreepublishing.com

The owner's name is Kim Blagg. I have spoken with her many times over the phone. She is extremely nice and professional. We are working out the details on my book now. I did tell her that I won't be able to publish until around Nov 02, cause I have to draw up 200 cartoons and raise the cash needed. She had no problem with that. She'll will even get started on my book with only 30% down ($225 for me).
She can answer many questions that you may have, that I can't. Here is her email address:

PageFreePublish@aol.com

That is about it. Anymore questions, please ask Kim. I'm just a cartoonist trying to get a book done and passing on my knowledge to my fellow cartooning peers.
Also I don't have a book out yet. It will come out in Nov. '02. I will be selling it on my site. Kim will also post it on many other online book stores, like Amazon.com and Barnesand Noble.com.

Thanks,
Steve, cartoonist of "Strange Breed"
www2.hi.net/s4/strangebreed.htm



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gazorenzoku
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Joined: 08 Nov 2001
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Location: Sapporo, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2002 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great info! I can't wait to check the site out.

I have some ideas about printing I would like to share.

First of all, maybe people out there might be familliar with the Diamond distribution system, but if you aren't, you should check it out! Last night I was talking with a friend who is planning to come out with his own limited series soon, and he turned me on to the Diamond web site. Upon going there, I found out how easy it can be to publish your own comic book and get it distributed in stores. Actual comic book stores, the place where Superman and X-Men sell.

You can get more detailed info on the Diamond site, but here is a basic overview:

1) Create your comic (or comic strip or whatever)

2) Show it to the folks at Diamond
Note: if Diamond decides to distribute your comic, it seems to me that you are fairly "in". The next step is making sure stores will want your product, and even more importantly, that they are AWARE of your product.


3) Advertise the comic to stores on your own, and utilize Diamond's advertising/marketing services if you want. You can send samples to stores via old fashioned mail, for one thing. Also get all of your comic loving friends to spread the word.

Note: step 3 doesn't really have to come after 2. They can be interchangeble, and really marketing is an ongoing process so why not start as soon as you have something completed? (with sooooo many people saying, "hey, I'm gonna do a comic book" and then not completing a project, it seems to me that most stores will react more favorably to someone who has finished work to show...)

4) PUBLISH. This is the step that everyone (well, me at least) is afraid of! But here lies the beauty of the comic book system. Unlike music, where you have to go through the recording companies, you can publish on your own in comics. All it takes is a sheet of paper proving that you have PRE-ORDERS from comic stores. What this sheet of paper means is that you are GUARANTEED a certain amount of cash after you print. This is because (unless you fail to complete the printing process on time) retailers cannot return comics after ordering them from Diamond. Isn't that great?

Take that pre-order list to the bank and explain to them that you are guaranteed to receive a certain amount of money after printing, and then borrow the money you need. Pay the printers, ship the comics, fill your orders, get your money, pay the bank back, then do it all over again for the next comic.

I imagine you won't see any profit for a while, so don't quit your day job. But if Dave Sim could do it, why can't we? I mean, have you read Cerebus #1? It's not bad, but it isn't near the quality of his current work... but he got it published and now he OWNS HIS OWN COMPANY.

Check it out. I'm going to shoot for a project starting sometime next year. I want to have a lot of work ready for printing before I start the process, so it might take some time.

As far as selling your print comic on your web site, it seems to me that it would be easier for everyone involved to just include info on how people can purchase your stuff. Most big companies like DC and whatnot seem to do this. Their websites are just big advertisements. I imagine that it would be difficult to print and send a single comic just to fill a single order on your site... Plus the shipping and handling would be a bitch for customers. The main thing, as far as I see it, is to make sure your comic is in stores. If you get a big demand from orders on your site, then you can always reprint your comic and get it in stores again. After all, you own it. All you have to do is convince stores to order it again. Foreign customers who might not have access to your comic should order from a comic book store that does online sales like this one (my old stomping ground before I moved to Japan), or from an online store like this one.

You can include links to those retailers on your site to help people get your comics.

I am still new to this, so if I misrepresented anything, let me know. And check the Diamond site for yourself.

vince

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gazorenzoku
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Joined: 08 Nov 2001
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Location: Sapporo, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2002 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A good place to start at the Diamond site is here.

Also, for die hard online comic types, I wanted to say that putting something out in print can also be great advertising for your site. If you make a 5 issue limited series and publish it successfully, and inlclude lots of ads for your site, I think that would boost your hits considerably. And that in turn would provide more interest for your print comics, so it seems like a great cycle. A "win win" situation, to use 1980's marketing / new age lingo.

If you break even on your printing costs through sales, then you have just produced an incredible advertising project for free.

vince


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Nick Douglas
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2002 4:56 pm    Post subject: Print-on-demand Reply with quote

Groovy. I'm a teen, a writer who can't draw worth beans, and a hopeful comics author with visions of becoming the next Gaiman-meets-Spiegelman. (sugar-plums, right?)

Anyway, this news is heartening. Sounds like a good cut for the publisher, though I've little to go on (after all, not that many comics being published these days, at least not available near my place). Still, that's without the stress of getting the thing accepted, then heavily edited, marketed, etc. Sounds fun.

If an artist is at all interested in working with me on a book-length comic about deposed Greek gods, an accidental clairvoyant and the Cafe Flambe (where everything is lit aflame in front of the patron), e-mail me: decaf@poetic.com.

{n}
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thrdgll
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Joined: 01 May 2002
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Location: spartanburg, sc

PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2002 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess it would be terribly cynical of me to point out that dealing with Diamond is what drove so many creators to web publishing in the first place.

Oops. I just did.

"Having something in print is good advertising for your website". I've never felt so old in my life. Used to be the other way around in my day, kids.

Ashley
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2002 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

steve wrote:


PageFreePublish@aol.com

That is about it. Anymore questions, please ask Kim. I'm just a cartoonist trying to get a book done and passing on my knowledge to my fellow cartooning peers.
Also I don't have a book out yet. It will come out in Nov. '02. I will be selling it on my site. Kim will also post it on many other online book stores, like Amazon.com and Barnesand Noble.com.


Thought I'd revisit this thread since my book is now available from PageFree through amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com for $11.95.
"It's All Mine and You Can't Have It" by Leonard M. Cachola
www.inniesandoutties.com/mall.htm

It was a long road to get there, though.

I did the production work on the book myself, but due to their pricing structure and the fact that I did my book in QuarkXpress instead of PageMaker, I submitted the elements separately to them so they could convert the layout to PageMaker figuring it would be cheaper. After three months of waiting for a proof, I decided to bypass their production staff due to their inexperience with working on laying out an illustrated book and my own exacting specifications on how I wanted it. It helped I already had a layout ready to go.

The proof from the printer looked good on the outside - the perfect binding looked great but the print quality on the interior was good for even numbered pages but subpar for odd numbered ones (I asked them to tell the printer to be more careful in copies shipped out to customers). After a cover revision that took a week to get out to the printer, the book was posted on amazon and barnesandnoble.

Now the fun part. I get to promote it.

Most people I've shown it too really like the way the book turned out, even though I still only have a sample proof. So buy one, if not for the content, then to see what PageFree and LSI are capable of.
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2002 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent! Being able to sell from Amazon and B&N is a big plus, too. I know from the experiences of some friends who were selling a video that even with minimal advertising, Amazon can help improve sales by a significant margin.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2002 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thrdgll wrote:
"Having something in print is good advertising for your website". I've never felt so old in my life. Used to be the other way around in my day, kids.


Gee, did it? I'm completely ignorant of the way things used to be, being a kid and all. Thanks for pointing that out!
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gazorenzoku
Reinvents understanding


Joined: 08 Nov 2001
Posts: 629
Location: Sapporo, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Sep 12, 2002 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thrdgll wrote:
...dealing with Diamond is what drove so many creators to web publishing in the first place.


Yeah, I have heard a lot of bad stuff about Diamond since I wrote that post. I still have not dealt with them yet, and now I am not sure if I will or not. But that has nothing to do with what I have heard... I simply must publish my intended work in color, and I could not afford to do that if I self publish, so I will go the indie publisher route (I know I could publish online, but I really want to make a book).

Some things I think are important to consider:

1) For every bad story about Diamond, it could be possible that there is a creator out there who just isn't all that great...

The stories I have heard centered around Diamond not promoting comics enough. It is a harsh thing to say, but maybe some of the people complaining about this just didn't produce interesting comics, and maybe that is why the comics didn't sell well... Though of course it is still possible that Diamond didn't promote a good comic enough too. But then, self publishing should mean taking responsibility of the promotion aspect of the job anyhow. That's one reason why self publishing is difficult... and that, at least, isn't Diamond's fault.


2) Though the whole Diamond distribution method sounds great, it will never provide the freedom that you could have with your own website

There is some genuine gripes about Diamond, and the main one is their ability to approve or not approve stuff to distribute. This means that they can say, "Hey, we're not going to distribute your book, you looser." If you are on the cutting edge or doing something brand new that doesn't sell well yet because it is on the fringe, Diamond will probably drop you. It always sucks to have a board room of people telling you what you can and can't do... that's why you wanted to self publish in the first place, right?


3) If you want to go color with print, you might as well farm the production part of the job out to an indie publisher.

That comes down to cash.... unless you are rich or can manipulate a rich person into giving you money, you probably won't be able to print your own color comic and make enough profit to not have to have another job...


vince

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