The truth of the matter is that Crozonia is a vanity project. If I do make any profit, I don't expect to make enough to quit my day job: a cgi artist for an upcoming Disney feature film; or my night job: a freelance package illustrator for the 2006 Matchbox toy line.
There are no grand illusions, only moderat hope. Let's look at the realities of the comic book industry in North America:
- As far as newstand distribution goes, only the largest companies such as Marvel and DC get to play. In exchange for a smaller profit margin and huge volume of distribution, retailers are allowed to return unsold covers, usually by tearing the covers off and mailing them back for a refund. There's no way smaller publishers can afford that.
- Direct market distribution is much smaller, with I'm guessing only 2-3 thousand accounts. These include specialty comic book shops and individual dealers that sell at comic book conventions. Diamond Distributors, Inc. is currently the only major distributor in the direct market. If you look at the estimated orders for the top 300 comic books in May at ICV2.com2, you'll see that many of the independent books from Image and Avatar hover around the 3000 to 5000 mark. Why so low? Take a look at the Diamond monthly catalogue. It's the size of a small phone book! The first half are simply solicitations for comic books for that month alone! It's easy getting lost in the crowd. And the worst part is you only get one chance to solicit. There are simply too many titles and too many publishers for too little comic book buyers. To stand out, you really do need a unique product. More on that later.
If my book is "wildly" successfull, I can expect those kind of sales through Diamond. If I were to profit one dollar off every book, well..., you can do the math. Nothing to leave your day job for. The reality is, I'm an unknown. So retailers don't know what to expect from me. When they order my book, and can't sell it, they can't return it unlike newstand distribution. They eat the costs. Therefore realistically, I can expect an order of around 500 copies if I were to solicit now.
And that's why I'm not soliciting now. I don't need to play the distribution game just yet. Especially when the earnings would be a measley couple of hundred bucks. Instead I plan on printing a couple of thousand copies for the time being and selling them at conventions and book fairs. Spread the word and build my name. Then when I feel it's time to distribute, I'll have probably a thousand books ready in the storage room. It's a vanity project, to communicate my stories and display my artwork pure and simple.
Does it sound like a good idea? Let me know. I'm sending the digital file on Monday to get proofs. Stay tuned.