Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another year passes and what that usually brings is a rash of New Year’s resolutions. Although I don’t make resolutions for the upcoming year, I do a bit of self reflection on the year that passed and think ahead for the upcoming year. Part of this is probably because my wedding anniversary is on New Year’s Eve so the end of the year is not just a calendar timeline, it’s also a milestone with the family.
Even though the year goes quickly, and the older you get, the faster the years go by, some things still seem so long ago. It was not a productive year for me as a creator as far as printed material goes, as most of the stuff I worked on will actually come out in 2010. I had A Murder of Scarecrows come out earlier in the year but Deadworld: Slaughterhouse only had one issue released before Desperado decided to forego the “floppies” all together and just release material in graphic novel format. So, even though I wrote the issues for this year, the graphic novel (actually a hardcover) will be out in early 2010.
I also planned to have the re-workings of Sinergy (now retitled Sin Eternal) and the Magus storyline in Saint Germaine to be released in 2009, but they too will be held until 2010. Sin Eternal will have about 20 new pages which was primarily done this year and the Saint Germaine collection will have two brand new stories in it. In addition, I have a new graphic novel called Subversives which will hit in 2010 even though most of it was done in 2009. A upcoming anthology of Sherlock Holmes is yet another project that was primarily created this year but won’t appear until 2010. So, it seems that 2009 was a creative year and 2010 will be a production year.
As for the publishing company, Transfuzion, 2009 was a good year. There were 9 titles released and of the 26 books from Transfuzion, five of the top six sellers on Amazon, came out this year. So, perhaps less in quantity of titles but more in overall sales. I’m especially proud of getting Vietnam Journal out through Transfuzion and eventually releasing the entire series. A major change with Transfuzion that will start in 2010 is the shift from reprinted collections to all new material. The Apocalypse Plan and Midnight Mortuary were the first two entries of all new material and soon Transfuzion will be releasing Ferrymen, two Lovecraft books, Sherlock Holmes, and a few others that still need to be officially announced.
The market proves to be in flux with some dynamic shifts in content delivery and perceptions of what is “legitimate”. The print on demand format, once shunned as being for unpublishable works, now is a viable option. In fact, it is something that increasingly becomes more important for someone like me that has a great deal of material from the “old days” where film and hard copy were the means to publishing. I continue to work at bringing that old material to the digital format, not only for print on demand, but to archive the files so that they can be exploited in various delivery methods.
The printed format is just one aspect of this new direction. The goal is to get the files into a delivery system so that I can take full advantage of all the opportunities presenting themselves. With print on demand, one of the key factors is that almost all of them also have a methodology for selling the books, usually in the form of an online store. So, that behooves me to take my POD to as many places as possible and have 3, 4, or even 5 different versions of the same book so that they can be sold through the vendors’ marketplace. And when you add new sources popping up such as Google Books, Kindle, the Sony Reader, etc. it makes sense to be flexible across all platforms. In addition, there are the numerous download sites such as Drive Thru Comics, Comics XP, the upcoming LongBox, and many others.
That’s one of my goals over the next year or so…to bring all of the titles (my personally authored ones as well as Transfuzion’s) to full exploitation. With a large backlog of material from the Caliber days plus the new stuff that I put out, I personally already have 25 books out and quite a few more getting ready and Transfuzion continues at a pace of 6-12 books a year…some collections, some all new material.
There seems to be quite a division occurring between the books (I’ll leave comics outside of the equation for now) that are direct market geared and “other” markets. Most companies and/or creators are lined up on one side or the other. Transfuzion sort of straddles that line. Most of our books have gone through Diamond Comic Distributors for a “regular” release into the comics market. But there are some that didn’t make the cut. Oddly enough, the ones that do not succeed with Diamond are usually those featuring all new material. It appears the comics market would rather have reprint collections because they at least know what it is. You would think that with the incredible expanse of the internet, getting the word out on new projects (such as interviews, previews, synopsis, etc) would be easier but I think that retailers and fans are so inundated with information, there’s no easy way to sort through the noise.
But most importantly, let’s face it, the comics market is a very limited one. The overwhelming appeal is for superheroes and the only viable options to that are the licensed properties that appeal to the same core. Yes, there are exceptions (which are always brought out ad nauseam) but as I’ve said numerous times, you can’t build expectations around exceptions.
I gave up a long time ago regarding my books’ success in the comics market. When I did Red Diaries, for example, the comics market was lukewarm in its acceptance. But I sell a lot of copies to mystery stores and continue to get regular orders from fans who are interested in it. Renfield had more success in the traditional comics market but again, it seems to have much greater appeal outside the market, including being used in a college literature course. Deadworld is probably my most successful comic title in the market and that’s likely because zombies are big. Even though Deadworld existed before just about any title currently on the market, for some reason, I still feel like I’m pandering to that audience when objectively, I know I’m not. I guess it’s because I’m tired of seeing all of these silly excuses to use zombies that somehow, I feel that I’m contributing to that.
It’s shaping up that 2010 will be an interesting year. The delivery options are enormous, sometimes there are so many choices out there that it can be overwhelming. Setting up accounts with the various downloadable vendors, for example, only to find out that their business plan stops at launching the line. Sort of a case of “we’ve launched…now what?”
The important thing I keep in focus is that comics (in whatever format) is just a medium, it is not the product. Just because something is in comic format doesn’t mean it will attract the comic audience and conversely, comics have gained a great deal more acceptability in the mainstream world so now, the term comic is no longer a major detriment.
However, until the day that bookstores put comics on the shelves (and figuratively apply the same sensibility online) by genre rather than grouped all together as if a special interest, it will be a long road.
But it’s better to have a road filled with promise than one shuttered by signs denoting the road ends.


Anonymous said...

Great, I look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

Anonymous said...

sorry, I accidentaly sent the message before I fiinished writing.

As I said, look forward to seeing you in Chicago. I have most of your books but I need to get a new copy of Renfield as it is worn out from so many people reading it. And a autograph would certainly be nice.

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