Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Making Your Comic Dollar Do the Most "Good"

Whenever you see Marvel or DC cancel (or threaten to cancel) a lower-selling title, there is always a big outcry.

And I am not saying that is a BAD thing.

That's cool.

And a lot of times, there is a call for people to purchase more of these titles, lest they be cancelled.

And I am not saying that is BAD, either.

It's fine.

However, the odds are, those 400-800 extra copies of whatever borderline book probably will NOT make a difference in Marvel and DC's overall decision to cancel the book.

If a book for DC is selling 6,000 copies, raising it to 7,000 is not going to make it worthwhile for DC to keep publishing it.

Likewise, if a book is selling 19,000 copies, making it 20,000 is not going to make it worthwhile for Marvel to keep publishing it.

On the OTHER hand, if an independent comic book's orders suddenly went up by 400-800 copies a month, the impact would be very significant, I believe (someone who knows more about independent publishing than I could tell me if this is accurate).

So if you are really concerned about keeping good comics around that are not selling a ton, then the most effective use of your dollar and your "buy more copies" campaigns is probably using that money and energy on independent books.


Blogger Ed Cunard said...

But independent comics suck, Cronin.


Seriously, I don't know how I feel about any of these drives--really, if everyone buys extra copies from the shelves, it just means that the retailer has a better sell-through. A short term fix doesn't equate to healthier sales in the long run.

But, yes, buy indie, buy heavy, buy often. :)

4/12/2005 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

True. A serious campaign to get the numbers up on the book has to be targeted at pre-orders, not in-store buys. And to avoid drop-off, they also have to encourage people to "subscribe" for at least three issues. That can be hard for a lot of people to swallow.

Of course, all that's dependent on the way the system works now. And the more I learn about it, the more convinced I am that it can't sustain itself in such a manner indefinitely. I think there's a pretty big change coming in the means of distribution, and that everyone, mainstream and independent, will have to adjust to fit that.

But, then again, I get that "something's gotta change" vibe from everything these days. Interesting times, these...

4/12/2005 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

"Interesting times, these..."

I knew we were cursed.

4/12/2005 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger chasdom said...

I don't think it is necessarily impossible for these sales drives to have an immediate impact. But the following needs to happen:

1) I read about a comic on a news site, and I am intrigued. For purely hypothetical purposes, let's call this comic "Elk's Run #1".

2) I go to the comic shop that week, and the comic is not on the shelf. The retailer is sold out or didn't order any at all.

3) I ask my retailer, who is a swell guy, to order a copy of Elk's Run #1.

4) My swell retailer looks up the order code for the comic (cuz his Diamond rep is an asshole) and orders one (or maybe a few) copies of Elk's Run #1.

5) After a few weeks, my retailer notes how many copies of Elk's Run #1 that he has sold, and orders the next issue at a higher rate than his initial pre-order of issue #1.

I have seen this happen with titles like Berlin and Forlorn Funnies, where the store starts out with zero shelf copies, and eventually ups their orders due to customer interest. And I am pretty sure that this is the dynamic that makes a title like Walking Dead a hit.

So I think internet activism at its most powerful could "create" a Walking Dead.

However, none of what I suggest here takes away from Brian's original point: this is a lot more effective on an indy title than it is on a mainstream title. Picking up unpurchased shelf copies of Manhunter, Breach, or Bloodhound at my store isn't going to help the titles one bit. This is partly because DC Comics are given a benefit of the doubt and shelf copies are always ordered, while unknown indy books can slip through the cracks.

Similarly, activism on a title like Doom Patrol, where a lot of readers were exposed to the early issues, doesn't make much sense. "Try it, you'll like it" only works if you really believe that the potential buyers of the book and the people who already dropped the book are two different groups, and that seems unlikely.

Of course none of that keeps me from stating the following:


4/13/2005 01:34:00 PM  

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