Tagged: self publishing

Michael Davis: Dream Killer 5 – Go F Yourself?



From last week:

When I wrote about numerous other options there certainly are. The four I list are ones I can speak about from a personal perspective.

Publishing Options:

  1. Find a major publisher
  2. Crowd Fund
  3. Fund Yourself
  4. Go outside the box.

The vast majority of top tier creators in the industry use option number one. Presentation to publishers differs from creator to creator. My process varies depending on the entity I’m pitching to.

I covered two and three last week. I stopped thinking about number one more than twenty years ago. I started thinking about number two after talking to Mike Gold a year or so ago.

That brings up to numbers three and four, financing yourself and getting out of the box but before I continue I want to make something clear.

This isn’t bravado, it’s business.

One of my many criticisms I get is that I tout my résumé too often. I don’t, but when I do it’s for one or two reasons. The first, I talk to parents of kids interested in careers in the arts as well as give advice in my columns. Many of those parents are from disadvantaged communities, and no example works better than an example that works.

The second reason is to piss off my haters. Not nearly as important, but it sure is fun.

Funding Yourself? Should You?

Funding yourself is just that. Unless you have considerable bank coming up with the money to capitalize your idea isn’t as easy as you may think. Many young creators only reflect on the comic book. The fact is the comic is the easy part.

Do You Have a Realistic View Of Your Idea and Ability?

Your parents and friends love you. Well, some of them do. One moment you’re singing a happy song and the next you’re on a milk carton after a unpleasant encounter with grandma. That’s my way of saying you never know what’s in your future or where problems may pop up from.

I’m sure you believe grandma does not want to bust a cap in your ass and you think I’m just silly. You know she and the rest of your family loves you, and most certainly do. There is no better support system than friends and family… and no better way to end up on that milk carton.

Unless grandma is a Marvel editor, mom and dad write and draw for DC, or your sister is the new publisher at Dark Horse you better find someone who has some professional experience. Listening only to those who care about you will give you a false sense of greatness.

They love you, but they have no clue what good is.

What Are You Not Considering?

Although much consideration is given to praise, little is given to what makes a successful project. Among the factors left to chance by many are distribution, marketing and all that comes with those concerns.

Put another way: all that shit cost money.

Always remember the comic industry is dream filled but reality based.

Let say you have ten thousand dollars to spend. That’s a sexy sum to most. I’ll make it even sexier – don’t include payment for the comic in that ten G’s. That’s not improbable at all, numerous projects have been produced with the creative team taking a back-end (paid later) deal.

If you want to self-publish something just for your friends and family, then ten grand is more than enough. You want to reach a broad audience and compete with the big boys ten grand maybe covers your printing, and that’s an enormous maybe. Again if you have dead presidents just hanging around while you play weatherman with a stripper, then this isn’t an issue.

If after making it rain you can’t pay your rent then do not get into the comic book business as a way to do so. No matter what that stripper says to you the moment your money runs out, you’re done and that’s probably not the done you were looking for. Yep, those strippers can be some cold bitches. Just like the comics industry.

Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money for many things. Promoting and marketing a comic book may not be on that list. I say may because nothing I write and nothing you create means a thing unless you know what your goal is.

What Is Your Goal?

Knowing my goal accounts for every business decision I make.

If that family comic book is your aim, then it makes perfect sense to use your money or lacking the capital perhaps borrow or ask your family to invest in your dream.

New creators looking to compete at a major level can do so and that has been done. Despite the sarcastic title of this series, killing your dream isn’t my goal. Quite the opposite.

Self-funding your project comes with incredible perks. If you can afford to take that risk, there is no downside and what I call the it side is plentiful.

  1. It’s yours; you own it.
  2. No one can tell you shit because you control it.
  3. Money? You deserve it.
  4. You get to tell your haters to eat it.

Here’s something that will come as a surprise. There have been a great many new creators who have self-funded their projects with no financial risk and achieved greatness doing so.

I’m speaking about damn near every celebrity who decided they wanted to do comics. What? You don’t know of whom I speak? Now, why do you suppose that is? The answer is simple. It’s not their lane. Comics are littered with the bodies of famous people not knowing when to stay in their lane.

No amount of money or name recognition will make something bad into something good. Just ask the guy with the name a duck screams about Batman V Sucked.

There was every reason to assume a major star becoming Batman would make that movie work. Nope. On the flip side, the film is closing in on (put pinky next to mouth) one billion dollars, so old Ben did all right. A major movie superstar in a major film is not a guarantee of box office gold. Mr. Hanks and Mr. Howard can tell you about that their flick Inferno was more of a box office campfire.

I have no say except my opinion when it comes to movies, but when it comes to comics I can say with authority: being a star in another medium means absolutely nothing in comics.

There are some notable exceptions. Matt Groening, Kevin Smith, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and perhaps the most successful big star to come to comics, Reggie Hudlin.

Reggie and I have some tainted history but as an example of someone coming from another area he’s the gold standard. He’s a good writer, loves the medium and – most important – knows how comics work. A bit of phone etiquette would be nice (inside joke), but you can’t fault his abilities.

Should You Self-Fund?

  1. Do you know your goal?
  2. Have the money to lose?
  3. Have a realistic view of your idea?
  4. Seeked out a professional?
  5. Understand creating your comic is the easy part?
  6. Are you considering everything you need?

New creators who are lucky enough to fund themselves may want to give the folk I listed above a Google. My advice once was never to use your money if you don’t have too. Been there, done that, got burnt, swore I’d never do it again.

Did it again but with a small difference that should have been a no-brainer.

I’ll discuss that next time.

John Ostrander: Self-Employable Comics

Hexer Dusk 1

Hexer Dusk 2I love writing and I am so glad I’ve been able to make a living at it. I’m very thankful to all the fans and all the publishers who have enabled me to do that over the years.

The trick is in getting the work. There’s this malady known as “freelancer’s disease” which consists of a freelancer taking every gig offered because you’re afraid that if you turn down any, they will all go away. It’s not rational but it’s real and it’s how some freelancers wind up taking on too much work. I’ve been sick with that disease from time to time. To make a living from writing, though, depends on a publisher saying yes.

That’s changed a bit in recent years thanks to the phenomenon of crowd funding where the artist can put together a project and then, if they can, get it up on the Internet at a crowd sourcing site such as Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. There you ask the fans to fund the project– and its their interest in what you are doing that counts. You ask the reader to trust you and your past work and invest in this new one.

Hexer Dusk 3I’ve done it with Tom Mandrake for Kros: Hallowed Ground (vampires and the Civil War) and I’m trying to do it again with Jan Duursema for a science fiction project called Hexer Dusk. For over a decade, Jan and I did Star Wars comics at Dark Horse, acquiring a fan base and a rep for doing really good Star Wars stories spread over different epochs. We created a lot of new characters who also became fan favorites and we had a great time.

We stopped doing Star Wars because George Lucas sold his rights to Disney. Disney owns Marvel and the licensing rights for Star Wars comics, which were up, went to them. Since the franchise was re-defining itself and its continuity, Marvel was looking for new talent to do the comics. I don’t blame them at all; I understand the rationale completely.


Hexer Dusk 4Jan and I really loved doing Star Wars and had always talked about creating our own space opera – one that we would own with worlds and characters of our creation. Hexer Dusk is not Star Wars by any means, but it is informed by our work on Star Wars. We have a galaxy with space ships and blasters, yes, but there’s magic and monsters and horror as well. And humor. You can’t have a slightly off kilter combat robot without humor. It’s also gritty and grungy because that’s what we do.

Jan got the idea for the project from a dream she had of great sky cities floating above a planet that were at war with one another. There were massive explosions and both cities were destroyed. It was a very vivid dream and, when she told it to me, the images were very vivid in my mind as well.

Every story has a genesis point and that was ours for Hexer Dusk. We started riffing together, throwing ideas back and forth as we did when working on Star Wars. Jan brought in Xane Dusk, the Weird, KOMBOT, and beadies. I brought in scavvers–Prybar, Sooz, Captain Skargle and The Missus. Heck of a party!  And then there are the Razers who want to destroy all remaining Hexers – including Xane Dusk.

Xane Dusk is one of the last of the Hexers. That’s bad news for the galaxy because, when the Sky Cities exploded and fell, they created an other-dimensional rift in the fabric of space and these strange nightmarish creatures started coming through. They’re called The Weird and they can only exist in Xane’s galaxy by possessing existing bodies – living or dead. It’s a problem because the only ones who can really deal with the Weird are the Hexers and, as I said, Xane may be the last of them.

This story is going to happen. Our Kickstarter is basically funded with enough for printing, shipping, creating art rewards and Kickstarter fees and we’re now working on the stretch goals.  Stretch goals are important because they will provide enough funding so that we can pay for art, writing, lettering, and colors as well as possibly adding pages to the story and a black and white PDF or print version of Hexer Dusk. Stretch goals are a way of bringing those kinds of extras to the backers of the project. If these stretch goals are achieved every backer gets more rewards. Which is cool.

Our Kickstarter project is at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/313324911/hexer-dusk and I invite you to come take a look. There are some preview pages up  with some really nifty art from Jan as well as descriptions of various reward levels ranging from a PDF of the graphic novel to a printed book with sketchcards or a sketch by Jan. You can also read the first nine pages of the book by going to www.hexerdusk.com

We’ve still got a week to go before the Kickstarter ends so we’re hoping for more folks to jump on the Hexer Dusk train – and to spread word about Hexer Dusk to their friends. Getting more eyes on this project is important. People can’t support something if they don’t know it’s there and word of mouth really is the best promoter. As always, we depend on our fans.

As they used to say on the old Bartles and Jaymes TV commercials, “We thank you for your support.”

Mike Gold: Gun, Respect, Courage


We get a lot of review copies here – by mail, email, and in-person at conventions. That’s a nice thing, and it’s quite possibly the reason why my daughter went into the comics business. But since we can’t review a fraction of what we get over the transom (although we did just add Philip Sandifer to our review crew; hi, Philip!) I often feel a bit sad that the creator/publisher/talent went to the bother and the expense.

But every once in a while something will catch my eye and if the planets are properly aligned and I remembered to sacrifice the proper animal to the proper authority, I’ll give it a read. If I like it, I might even give it a plug, for what that’s worth. There’s too many good projects out there that don’t get enough exposure, so I rarely spend my time blithering about what is, in my never-humble opinion, not worth it.

The more inspired and better-healed comic book shops racked the first issue of Gun today, created, written, drawn and hand-painted by Jack Foster. Nice package, great paper, a quick flip-through did not scream “well-healed wannabe” and – most impressive – his name wasn’t even on the cover. What the hell; it wasn’t going to be a selling point so he smartly used the space to attract the readers’ attention.

But what impressed me most of all was the cover letter, which consisted of four brief paragraphs that covered all the bases one should cover… including the mission statement. Jack’s working outside of Diamond Distribution, to quote said letter, and he’s got an interesting blog to prove it.

I have no problem with Diamond, outside of the fact that they’re a monopoly. I’m still a bit in awe, after all these years, of the way Diamond put that monopoly together. But going out there on your own despite the many failures of organizations much larger than Foster’s “Reckless Eyeballs Press” – that really captures the true independent spirit and, damn, this planet needs as much of that as it can get.

So, good for Jack and his cohorts. I sat down to read Gun #1 with a positive, hopeful attitude, and I was not disappointed. It’s a comics noir story about a super-villain and his super-villain friends and how they work together, how their society operates, how they bond and the limits of those bonds. Yes, this is ground well-trod. Big deal. The whole superhero thing has been well-trod for over half a century, and that hasn’t stopped people from coming up with great stories. The art is decent but the storytelling is quite good, and Foster delivers some extremely clever dialog. His hand-painted color is also quite good, although in a couple places it prints a bit dark. Gun could probably use a slightly stronger touch from the editor, but I play a professional editor on teevee so of course I’d feel that way.

The book costs $4.99 over the counter at those inspired comics shops that can afford to take the risk on an unknown. It’s also available online in both hardcopy and digital; the latter goes for $2.99.

If I didn’t enjoy Gun #1, I’d be writing about something more worthy – like my cats, which is always a Net-pleaser. I think you should check it out; even if you hate it, at least you’ll know why and you’ll have given some support to all those garage writers and artists who, as it so happens, hold the future of the comics medium in their hands.

Looking forward to the next issue, Jack. And thanks for sending it to us.





This insightful, fun blog site is the home of Jack Badelaire, author, fan, and overall armchair philosopher and expert on Pulp in a post modern age, including publishing, movies, and just pulp in concept as general.   Posted below is an example of thought, theories, and general ramblings from Jack that make this blog a fantastic place to postulate on Pulp pretty much daily!

Embracing Indie eBook Publishing

As of this week, I’ve made the decision that when (not if) I finish the book I’m currently writing, I will publish it as an eBook through Amazon and B/N’s self publishing portals.

I’ve come to this decision for four reasons.

1. I’m tiring out. Writing part-time while there are a million other things vying for my attention drags this process out to an intolerable degree, and once it’s done, I simply don’t have the stamina to then spend months – hell, years – finding an agent and a publisher who’ll take my novel. I just can’t wait that long. The way I see it, writing for publication is like gambling; you can play the short odds and be careful and amass a small but tidy sum cautiously, or you can keep throwing money on the long odds and hope that someday – someday! You will win it big. I see Indie ePublishing as the short odds, and traditional publishing as trying to win the lottery. And for the record, I don’t play the lottery.

2. Electronic Self-Publishing is here to stay, and I want to ride the wave while it’s still growing. What was considered a “vanity press” idea ten or fifteen years ago is now becoming a viable alternative to finding a publisher. This is something indie game publishers have know for a while now, but non-game book publishing is taking a while to catch onto the idea that someone being able to publish their own work != the downfall of the literary world. This was the case of all the Web 2.0 technologies as they came along, taking the ability to “publish to the world” out of the hands of certain gatekeeping individuals and giving that power to the masses. Yes, it’s given us some stupid crap on the internet (okay, a LOT of stupid crap), but it’s also created some truly amazing things as well. If you’re one of those “All People Are Idiots!” folks, the ability for just anyone to write a novel and potentially have someone pay to read it is anathema to you. But on the other hand, five years ago, I thought “blogging” was stupid, and here I am. A year ago I thought Twitter was stupid, and yet, I’m on it, Tweeting away. People make money blogging and Tweeting, too. People even make a living teaching others how to blog and Tweet, shockingly enough. Journalism, Film (see: Youtube et al), and now Fiction publishing is all shifting to a Web 2.0 paradigm; it’s Publishing 2.0, and it is only going to get bigger.

3. Indie ePublishing suits what I want to write. Quality aside, I honestly do not think there is a viable market for what I want to write in today’s dead-tree publishing paradigm; the short serial action thriller as was popular back in the 60’s – 80’s in titles like The Executioner, The Death Merchant, Able Team, Longarm, The Ninja Master, The Survivalist, the Richard Blade series, Casca the Eternal Warrior, and so on. There have been dozens of these titles over the years, cheap “post-modern pulp” paperback novels out of those few decades selling for $2-3, averaging less than two hundred pages and 50-80K word lengths. These books were enormously popular at the time, and I think the sort of serial fiction they provided is still viable, but no one is going to see the profit in that kind of publishing in today’s print fiction market, at least not outside of Young Adult fiction (which I don’t write…yeah no). On the other hand, a short novel format would be perfectly acceptable – even preferable, on an eReader, and the price point hasn’t changed much, either.

And finally, one last big reason. I want to be paid to write. I’ve been writing fiction since grade school. I might not be a great writer – I might not even be a “pretty good” writer, but I am a passable writer, and the more I write, the better I get. I’ve got ideas, I have some modicum of talent, and if properly motivated, I can produce copy quickly. But the motivation is the key, and my motivation right now, as I close in on my mid-30’s, is income. I’m not satisfied with my current job, but it pays better than some, and that keeps me locked in. If I could supplement my income with a small but steady stream of royalty payments, it would be both encouraging and pleasing to the pocketbook, and I could consider a less stressful job even if it meant a pay cut, in order to put myself into a better frame of mind for writing. And Indie ePub money – that’s money now, as in within a year, not fantasy dream lottery money that I might get if I’m one that one single writer out of every ten thousand potential new fiction writers that gets picked up for distribution by one of the Big Six, and then waits another year to eighteen months before my book hits the shelves. There are fiction writers out there in the hot genres – not a lot of writers, but a fair few – who have seen real, I-can-do-something-with-this amounts of money within just a few months of putting their eBooks up for sale, and we are talking rookie authors who are doing it all by the skin of their teeth and the sweat of their brows.

I’ll conclude this little soapboxing session with the link to the blog that’s turned me around on this idea: J.A. Konrath’s “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing“. I read an anthology of hitman stories edited by Konrath a few months ago, “These Guns For Hire“, and having looked him up, I now see that he is a very big proponent of “Indie Publishing” as he likes to put it (sound familiar, gamers?), and his blog has become a rallying point for Indie authors who have started to make a living publishing their own eBooks. Anyone who’s interested in self-publishing fiction – or anything, really – should read through his blog.

And with that, back to the typewriter…

Posted by Jack Badelaire at 9:00 AM