but since i made it i might as well publish it

2

So we had a few people ask us about the new manga title we announced over the weekend. And since we will not be attending any more events until…late May maybe early June, I might as well share the info here.

We have acquired the rights to Inio Asano’s A GIRL ON THE SHORE (Umibe no Onna-no-Ko) from one of our favorite Japanese publishers - Ohta Books.

Much like how we released another Ohta title, UTSUBORA, we will be combining this two-parter into an omnibus edition and shrink-wrapping it (as the content is very very 18+). And we should have this thoughtful tale of youth and loneliness set in Japan’s countryside by early 2016.

You all have no idea how thrilled I am to finally lock this title down. We initially made an offer for this a few years ago, but the JP publisher had hoped to bundle it with another of Asano’s licenses. So when I found out in November that this title was still available, I jumped on the opportunity since it often ranked very high on our surveys.

We will be recommending this title to any alt/indie manga readers out there, obviously, due to its origins in one of Japan’s premiere indie manga magazines. But I also think fans of titles like Flowers of Evil and even our josei titles should give this title a shot. This title features amazing art, sympathetic characters, and a tone that is very very Vertical.

We hope you will embrace this Asano work as you have his other titles. And I hope this is just the beginning of our relationship with this young talent!

On pre-ordering comics, and the flawed system of distribution

Earlier tonight I made a bunch of tweets about the flaws in comics ordering and sales. I wanted to clarify some things, as well as organize my thoughts in once space, so here we are. I want to talk about how the sales of comics work, and why that system is so deeply twisted. This is not about my own books, but about a pattern that’s been going on since long before I entered the game, and for the interest of those who might not know how it all works.

To preface: I worked in a comic shop for five years. I have been making comics and involved in the creation and promotion of published books for a little over three years. I also run a group for women retailers - The Valkyries - so the information and ideas here come from those three places and experiences. This process is also based on the North American comics system and the Diamond distributor monopoly - you may not know this, but Diamond is basically the ONLY distributor in North America, so the only company that stocks and ships comics to stores, the only company whose sales “matter.” It wasn’t always this way, but it sure is now, and not necessarily for the better. I’m not really getting into digital sales here - that still remains somewhat a mystery to me.

To be perfectly clear: I don’t blame ANYONE who doesn’t buy single issues (as low as $2.99/issue but as high as $5.99, not even counting how awful the Canadian dollar is right now, and taxes). I understand that it’s not in the budget of most. I am here to point out a flawed system, not to point the blame on consumers, publishers or shops. With that in mind, we go forward!

Here’s the process of comics sales, as best I know it:

  1. A pitch is submitted to a publisher.
  2. If approved, the creators are attached, and an outline is submitted.
  3. From here, the series is like a vague, nebulous concept, filled with ideas and promise but not yet released to the world.
  4. Shortly after this stage, often when the first issue is still in production, the comic begins being promoted by the publisher.
  5. At this point, the comic gets solicited, which means that it appears on a listing for comic shops and is available to pre-order. Most of the time, all that a potential buyer (and a potential shop) has to work from is the names of the creators attached, a pitch for the series and some artwork.
  6. From here, people can pre-order! You’ll often see creators, especially of creator-owned works (like Zodiac Starforce, or Boom Box books, or Image series - this means non-Marvel or DC, although smaller-name series must do this at well or be drowned out) pushing people to pre-order. What does that mean? It means asking a comic store to stock the series when it comes out and save it for your purchase, which is usually a few months in the future.
  7. Most people do not pre-order comics. This is true. It’s usually the dedicated customers of a shop, regular single-issue buyers, diehards or fans of the creators/projects involved who will go into a comic shop even though they normally wouldn’t. This is a very small percentage of people.
  8. Comic shops are pressured to stock the series. Now, when you pre-order, this means a definite sale from the publisher to the store to you, which is what matters - publishers often see the sales of issue 1 of a series as a benchmark for how popular the series will be, which is, as I’ll get to, kind of crazy.
  9. Aside from pre-orders, comic shops look at certain things to determine how many copies they’ll order to sell. If, say, Brian K Vaughn puts out a new book, they know with some certainty that it will sell - he has a track record of popular, financially successful books. When it comes to smaller creators, especially writers/artists that haven’t established themselves as well (and few have!) the shops have no idea how it will do, and must base their order numbers off word-of-mouth, the soliciation, online “buzz,” etc.
  10. So, if nobody pre-orders a comic, and the comic shop has no idea how it’s going to sell, why would they risk ordering 100 copies? They don’t want dead stock (items that don’t sell) or dealing with returns (which many publishers don’t offer) so they’ll take the low-risk option and order fewer copies.
  11. If a publisher sees that pre-orders (from shops) are low, they will put a lower priority on the series. Already. BEFORE THIS BABY’S EVEN BORN! This is hugely unfair for everyone involved.
  12. When issue 1 is finally released, again, an enormous amount of value is placed on the sales of that issue. You’ll frequently see issue 1s selling out, sometimes because not many were printed because shops didn’t order them because people didn’t pre-order… See where I’m going with this? You’ll see ISSUE 1 SOLD OUT! Occasionally this is because only 5-10,000 copies were printed.
  13. When the issue sells out, there’s a waiting time for it to be reprinted, for “second printing” to be solicited, and during this entire time, the book is losing sales because it’s unavailable. Weird! You’ve probably seen this with some books you like - your shop can’t order it in. You may place a hold, you may not. Tricky.
  14. From here on out, it’s kind of a crapshoot. Most series lose over half their readers from issue 1 to issue 2, and continue to until they (hopefully) find a regular readership, but this isn’t always the case. Everyone loves an issue 1 - why do you think there are so many?
  15. In between issue 1 and the trade paperback, or collection - the version of the series that comes as a book, and is sold to both comic shops and the book market (Barnes & Noble, Chapters, etc) - more than a year can go by. People who only buy their comics in book form are referred to in the industry as trade-waiters. Clever, no?
  16. This is part of why you’ll see books including special back matter/letters columns that are NOT in the trade paperback - aside from it just being fun, it’s an incentive for readers to pick up the single issues. Now:
  17. Is trade-waiting bad? No. Most people don’t collect single issue comics. As nerdy as the world is, that’s still kind of niche. Most folks buy the books, because they’re cheaper, easier to store, easier to read, and more readily available. A lot of people don’t even know comics still come as single issues! Sadly, everyone from creators to shops to publishers put so much emphasis on single issue sales, that occasionally a trade won’t even happen, or will be delayed by months or years. Because:
  18. If nobody is buying the single issues of a comic, or if the sales are low, companies will predict that the book won’t do well, and will put it as a low priority for publishing. Maybe they’ll wait to see how sales do over the course of the series, maybe they’ll shelve it.
  19. Also, in this time before the trade is released, many series (you may not know that most comics these days are pitched on a 4-6 issue “arc” basis instead of a long-term series) depend on those single-issue sales to find out whether or not they’ll be continued. Have 6 issues planned? Do your first two not sell out? You may only get the 6. Is that fair? Shouldn’t you get time to build a fan base and a following?  What about all those people who can’t afford/don’t want to buy single issues? Your series may not even reach them - and buy the time it does, you may already be cancelled, which is kind of my least favourite thing about this entire process. This isn’t to put the blame on the publishers either - they have to be careful not to put money into a project that isn’t returning it. Most editors would LOVE to give a series 20 issues to find an audience, but they simply can’t afford to take the risk. This is, again, to say that this system hurts everyone.

Confused yet? Conflicted? I hear you. This process puts pressure on everyone - on creators to drum up interest in the series and therefore promote sales, on publishers to push the book on stores and the potential audience, on stores to stock and sell the comic (often without knowing how it might do - what’s real online buzz/enthusiasm and what’s marketing?) and especially on consumers to spend as much money as humanly possible.

This is why we ask you to pre-order, but we know it’s strange. We don’t want to pressure you to spend money in a way you don’t want, or at least I don’t. I understand that books are prettier than single issues. I didn’t come from money, I get it. When we ask (speaking for myself anyway) we’re asking you to buy if you CAN, and I hope at least this post explains why we’re asking. We’re not trying to milk you for money or exploit our fan bases, we often just want our books not to get cancelled, we want the shops not to close, and we want to keep doing what it is that we do. We’re all part of this messed-up system of comics, working it as best we can, and hoping for a better solution in the future. A lot of us are young, trying to make our way and find something that sticks.

I don’t have that solution here for you. I don’t know how to change it. It’s massive and those wheels have been in motion since long before I picked up a pen. This just is how it is, and I guess I wanted to write it all out. Sometimes it helps just to talk.

Theory about the next People Exclusive re:baby gate

I just read this anon bethaboolou got and it made me want to share an idea that’s been percolating in my head since this morning. I talked about it a bit with thebritishboyfriends drunkharrystyles and thedarkestlarrie so I figured I may as well make a post about it and see what everyone else thinks.

I’m wondering if the next big People story might be an exclusive interview with Louis denying the entire pregnancy farce. Louis can issue a firm, no beating around the bush denial (using the excuse of needing to talk to his lawyers/ get all his ducks in a row in regards to taking a paternity test to 100% confirm the kid isn’t his before publicly denouncing it [As many have mentioned, even if Louis knows there’s no possibility the kid is his, he’d have to take a paternity test anyhow just to confirm it without a shadow of a doubt (otherwise it’s a his word against hers situation)] and People don’t lose their credibility because Louis (and by extension, 1dhq) is still aligned with them and giving them the goods.

The story generated so much buzz that a direct denial from Louis in the form of a cover story would give them TONS of hits (and sell more hard copies) and it would makes sure ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE sees it (and therefore build Louis’ face recognition amongst the general public ESPECIALLY in North America). As has been pointed out before, People magazine is impossible to escape - It’s in every grocery store, every pharmacy, every doctor’s office, every nail salon. It would be an incredibly effective way to boost his ~star level~ even further without actually having to resort to expanding this stunt/creating a new one. Plus, since they’re working together, they both control the angle of the story in a way that suits their needs (and the level of larry they want to include).

I can absolutely see People being willing to publish something they know is false and will be publicly refuted in exchange for Louis giving them the denial interview (they can phrase the whole story so it casts them in a good light and maintains their reputation). If we’re right, they also know they’re getting the exclusive coming out story down the line which any publication would kill for. It’s going to be one of, if not the biggest, story of the year.  

It’s all about barters and exchanges, and if they choose to go this route this only one who loses is Briana (and her fame hungry family - but they get money, connections and their 15 minutes). 

I think the introduction of her ex-boyfriend will most likely play a role too. I still don’t think there actually *is* a baby, but for the sake of the story they can claim it’s his. From that point on it’s up to her what lengths she’s willing to go to (if, of course, anyone still cares. It might just be forgotten and she go on with her life as per usual, fake baby all but forgotten by everyone).

Watch on metropolicss.tumblr.com

I DUBBED MY FRIEND @coulsart COMIC H A  HA 

i tried omg

I think I might post a voice dub a week? idk. I have one more I made but I’m not sure I should publish it since I JUST made this on ahah oh well-