What do retailers think, sometimes?
This incrediblely long post will not fit into one post, so please excuse the multiple posts. A big apology for sending a multi-part PM to Brian Hibbs, but Ithink this topic is something worthwhile to discuss:
Recently, I have been having impromptu conversations with retailers about the business of comics. Specifically, these conversations have been about ordering new products. I have been blessed to live in a major metropolitan area that has a few comic book direct market stores in the area, so because I will be starting my own publishing venture (and I am always incredibly prepared in any endeavor that I attempt), I have wanted to directly ask retailers about as many things as possible about how comics are tracked (in terms of salesówith or without barcodes) to what factors a new publisher can do to help retailers make the decision of what may be salable in a new comic book. Put frankly, I understand that itís the retailer who is the most important part of the three headed Cerberus that is the direct market. I have to be honest and say that these conversations have been well-received and quite enjoyable. While I am not naÔve enough to believe that every retailer is as amiable as those I have spoken with, I have been encouraged from the responses from these conversations.
Well, the conversation that I had today with a retailer was incredibly frustrating.
It does not take Warren Buffet to understand that direct market retailers are people who should always be interested in new products and assets to generate more incomeóeven if the retailers may not necessarily carry those products immediately. I do not own or operate a business (yet), but closing a potential avenue of revenue for one who is in the business of selling is something that I cannot fathom properly. When I asked the retailer about what decisions he makes when it comes to ordering new material, his response was not only difficult to understand because was not an effective communicator, but because his reasoning was something that I just didnít have the educational tools to properly comprehend.
The conversation went like this:
Me: So, what factors help you when you decide to order new books? Specifically, what decisions help you order material from publishers and creators who are new?
Retailer X (with frustration): We donít really order material from new publishers. Publishers have to understand that we arenít the ones who should be drumming up interest for their books. We only sell those books. We canít be out there creating interest for books. A customer has to come in and ask for the book. Thatís when weíll order at least two copiesóone for that customer and one for the shelf. (At this point the retailer reacted to my facial expression and changed the tenor of both his pitch and his response) You may know this already, and I donít want you to think that I am yelling at you or complaining, but itís just that weóretailersógo through this all of the time. We constantly tell publishers this stuff.
Me (I was stunned into a state near apoplexy and utter consternation at this point, but I managed to gather my wits and ask): So, what can a new publisher or creator do to help you make the decision of whether or not you will decide to buy his book. Will have sample copies of the product before you make the order from Diamond help you with that decision?
Retailer X (shaking his head in complete disregard): No. Not really. What will really help is that if there is established names along with the book. Then we will make the decision to order copies. (almost apologetically ) I mean; there are things from established people that donít even sell.
Me (walking towards the exit, taking a look around at the many, many copies of multiple variants of Secret Invasion, New Avengers, Kick Ass and other comics that had limited run variant editions of over priced single issuesómostly Marvelóalong the shelves): I see what you meanÖ
Retailer Xís Assistant: Hey, youíre asking this stuff because youíre starting your own book, arenít you?
Me: Yes, I am, and I just wanted to get a rough idea and initial impressions from retailers before I even start the solicitation process in Previews. I wanted as much feedback as I can get before I start to ask for formal feedback when my title jumps off.
Retailer Xís Assistant: Oh, cool! Good luck!
Me: Thanks. I appreciated it; I know Iím going to need a good comic, which I think I have, and a bit of luck as well.
There are so many things that I wanted to say to Retailer X, but I could see what I was dealing with, so I walked away. I didnít want to believe that his business acumen when it comes to selling comics wasnít so sharp. I wanted to believe that he just wasnít interested in what I had to sell, but I wasnít selling anything. I also wanted to believe that he didnít agree with what I had to say, but I wasnít saying anythingójust asking for a response. Maybe he didnít like me coming into his store and buying $50.00 worth of comics and asking questions. Maybe he just didnít like me. But I donít think any of these latter things is the truth.
First, when he told me that the store didnít buy new material, this was a bold-faced lie, an incredibly ignorant statement, or bothóbecause I was literally buying two first issues from new publishers and creators at the time of this conversation. Whatever it was, it was something that didnít inspire great confidence in me that I was talking to an intelligent person. Could he have been unaware that his store had copies of comics from relatively new publishers? I was buying two first issues from a publisher that is relatively new and from creators who are completely new.
Second, I cannot understand why a retailer wouldnít want to look at a sample copy of a comic before he makes a decision to order it. A comic only takes a few minutes to skim through to know whether or not it is salable. Hell, I can do that, and I am not a retailer with years of experience. Iím willing to believe that there are other retailers and Diamond representatives who can do it in seconds. This was the grossest example of ineptitude in business that I think I have ever come across. How this retailerís business has remained in perpetuity is something that escapes my ability to understand. He was actually telling me that his business was not going to consider a new product from an unknown publisher or creatoróeven if the creator/publisher provided a free copy or two to look through to determine whether or not the product could be an asset (and I mean ďassetĒ in terms of a thing or things that generate income).
Am I wrong to think that this is ludicrous?
I understand that there is risk in business—in all things in life. Perhaps this retailer is only comfortable with selling products from established entities because he wants to limit his risk. However, being informed about what we do decreases the risks considerably. Returning to my Warren Buffet analogy, I am 100% certain that when Berkshire Hathaway Inc. acquires a business, it is done with an understanding that there is some risk (shit, there is considerable risk because those are decisions that affect billions of dollars and hundreds—often thousands—of people). But before that acquisition is made, I am sure that the officers examine closely what it is they are about to purchase and weigh it against whether or not it will be an asset. I know that the scales are different, but Berkshire Hathaway and direct market comic book retailers are in a very similar position.
I would argue here that the comic book retailer has an even more precise job than that of the officers of Berkshire Hathaway. Even though Coke has not exactly lit the world on fire in terms of being a great asset for Berkshire Hathaway (Coke took a beating after it was acquired), Coke isn’t going anywhere; it will eventually become an asset. Time is on all sides in that relationship. However, a direct market comic book retailer has to determine whether or not a title will be an asset, and titles (both new and old) don’t have the proven longevity of Coke. One copy can determine whether or not a title is an asset or an expense—one copy. But the advantage that the retailer has is that he can look at a comic at the time he orders it (if he has it obviously) and see: the production of the comic is relatively high, the lettering is professional, the artwork is pleasing, the story seems entertaining, and the cover is interesting enough to get consumers to look through it. The retailer should be able to then say, “This comic is of professional standards, and I may be able to move a few copies.” At this point, the retailer can then consider his risk and weigh it against the potential of whether or not it will be an asset. I understand the reticence—one copy too many and black becomes red. But an informed risk isn’t as risky as it seems. For some God forsaken reason, there must be a market for multiple covers of single issues because there are retailers (a la Retailer X) who find consumers for those products. To me, buying limited editions of comics from publishers and charging $10, $20, $30, $40 (and even more sometimes) of a product that can be purchased for $2.99 is definitely a risk (I would call it downright foolish, but I am not a retailer and that is why I am writing this). But, the retailers (do you hear me, Retailer X?) must have weighed the risk against the reward and come to the conclusion that an asset is possible with these products. Why would this retailer, or other retailers for that matter, take a stance of “a copy of the product before it is purchased won’t help me order the product”?
Seriously, I don’t understand.
Third, I agree that the publisher should create as much interest in his product as he can. That is just common sense and even better business sense. But the retailer is also a synergist in this process as well—more than a synergist, actually. The retailer is the most important part of the selling process. He is not at the front line; he is the front line. The retailer is the entity that has direct contact with the consumers. People go to fancy restaurants to enjoy delicious, expensive, and well-crafted meals, but it is not the chef that the diner meets immediately. It is not necessarily the owner of the restaurant that he meets. It is the host or hostess. It is waiter or waitress. These are the entities that have direct influence over the consumer. A simple suggestion from these sales and service people can turn an $8 glass of wine into a $12 glass of wine. A few well-placed suggestions—a little note underneath the comic on the shelves saying something like “Pick of the Week” can sell one more copy, and as retailers already know, one copy can mean red goes to black…
As I understand the process of selling comics, a retailer purchases products from Diamond at a specific percentage on a non-returnable basis for the most part. That means the comics that the retailer buys are his products. He cannot return the extra copies to get his money back. So, it is in his best interest to sell as many copies of those titles as possible to make a profit. What really shocked me more than anything else was when Retailer X said that retailers can’t be responsible for drumming up interest for a title. I’m not being facetious when I ask this, but isn’t a retailer’s very livelihood dependent upon his ability to sell? Isn’t that what a retailer does—sell? Hell, doesn’t a retailer have more impetus to sell because by the time the copies of the product make it into the store, the distributor and publisher are already guaranteed payment? I’m not saying that a retailer is solely responsible for creating interest in a product, but the publishers of titles are not in the store to run promotions, talk about the products, provide sales experts to sell the products, or anything along those lines. Should a retailer just let a title sit on his shelf and let the work speak for itself? Or should he try to use every resource necessary to get that product off his shelf and into the hands of a consumer?
Moreover, I am a consumer. I have been buying things all of my life. I have been buying comics from direct market retailers since I was 13 in 1983. I am an expert at buying what I want—just like everybody else. When a retailer of any product does not have what I want, especially a comic, that retailer has lost a sale. That is an unerring fact. Hell, it happened this morning. I was looking for a book on corporate tax laws, and Barnes and Nobles didn’t have it. I immediately walked out of that store and walked into another store to buy that book. I am not an a-typical consumer; I am a typical one. At least Brian Hibbs knows what every good car salesman—any salesman for that matter—already knows. When a consumer wants a product and a retailer cannot provide that product, the likelihood the consumer will return to that same retailer for that product diminishes greatly. I don’t think it is a good—smart—business practice to wait until someone comes in to ask for a product to then order that product so that it comes in days—weeks—months later. That consumer will move on to someone who can provide that product before the retailer can get it. Again, I think Retailer X wants to “play it safe”, but by waiting, he is not “playing it safe”. He is losing a consumer each time he cannot provide that product he will wait to see if there is interest in before he orders it.
Have I missed something? Are there more examples of Retailer X out there—buying multiple copies of Marvel issues and panhandling them as collectibles, scoffing all the while at other independent comics? I know it’s the comics from Marvel, DC, and others that allow for retailers to actually buy many of the smaller and new products in the direct market. But isn’t the reward from selling an independent title greater (per unit) on independents? Is it easier to keystone or profit from an independent than titles from the giants? I didn’t write all of this to miscast Retailer X.
I just want to understand…
Again, I apologize for the double post, but thanks for reading...
Last edited by 350z; 07-11-2008 at 05:51 AM.
indie snob admin
I think part of the problem is that you only talked to one retailer. There are many types of direct market retailers.
Some play it "safe" such as the retailer you talked to by sticking to known sellers and only order things that most likely have a built-in audience. And I'm fine with that. He has a right to run his shop however he wants. If he is turning a profit, then he is doing alright by me.
There are some retailers that are more willing to try new and different types of books. But they can't order everything that comes out each month. Even the most indie friendly shops have to pick and choose which books they carry since they only have so much money each month to purchase comics from Diamond. And since most of the books from Diamond are non-returnable, they need to make sure that a good part of those books will sell so they can buy more comics.
What does this mean for a new comic publisher? You have to work your butt off. You have to get people interested in your book. That goes for retailers as well as potential readers. If you can show retailers that people are interested in the book, you can bet you will get more orders.
And to reach people you should be advertising to them. Have a website/blog/myspace page to show samples of your book to the public. Do some conventions to talk and show your work to people. Sure once your book gets into a shop, the store should try to help get your book sold since that would make them money. But in order to get your book into that shop, you have to make the retailer confident that it is something that is going to sell.
Actually Brandon, I spoke with four retailers; Retailer X was the last of the four. How he runs his business is, indeed, his business. As long as he makes a profit, he is doing what he is supposed to do.
What I had found astonishing was his approach of "I won't order something unless it has established names along with it" when it comes to ordering new material. Like I said, I understand his reticence, and I understand what the risks for retailers are. I just thought his myopic approach was not only doing himself and potential new publishers a disservice, but I felt that he was doing a disservice to his consumers as well. Not to mention it was wrong. There were projects all over the store from "not brand name" comic book creators all over the store.
I am well-aware that new publishers (and old publishers, too) have to work very hard to make their projects successful. As Retailer X said, there are established creators who aren't selling well (how Phil Winslade's work on Shadowpact isn't lauded and sold-out each time he draws an issue is beyond me...). But if you were a retailer (and you may be), and someone asked the question of "Would a sample copy help you to determine whether or not something is salable?", would you answer with, "no"? I mean--wouldn't, "it could, but I still may not order it" be a better response?
Hey, I know that retailers can't get every project that comes out; it's just not economically feasible or business wise. But what I have been asking retailers about are those things that a new publsher can do in the relationship between publisher and retailer that would be most helpful. It should almost go without saying that a new publisher needs to promote his material and generate as much interest as possible to get fans to walk into the door of a retailer's shop and ask for that product. And I know that retailers are not obligated to buy a new product. This may not be the best example as Avatar is not a new publisher anymore per se, but aren't there titles that have come from Avatar within the last 2-3 years (that didn't have Ellis, Moore, or any other "established" name) that have been profitible for retailers? When Jim Balent started Tarot, he wasn't exactly a household name--and still isn't. But I know Tarot is a profitible product (Retailer X had it in his store--an incongruity in itself using his own philosophy). The retailers who carry Tarot contine to do so; it has to be an asset. Where I'm going here is obvious. Tarot was new project at one time. It is a title that has been matriculating for years now (and the creators have just passed issue 50). I'm not saying that my project--or any new project--will be that successful. But to close the door on them before giving them a chance seems penny-wise but pound-foolish in the end.
The impression that I got from this retailer was a sense that he was not open to new things, and I couldn't understand what would possess him to say the equivalent of "No, I will not consider any other means of making money other than what I already have"--especially when it wouldn't cost him anything. I'm just not able to understand a philoshy like that coming from someone who is supposed to be a business person. I'm just going to be honest, and I hope that I don't sound too terrible for saying something like this: His response was stupid.
I wasn't asking him to commit to my project; I just wanted to understand things about retailers that will improve my already poor chances of success as a new publisher.
Last edited by 350z; 07-11-2008 at 09:24 PM.
indie snob admin
I think you may be misunderstanding this retailer's words. I think he is less willing to buy books that are new and do not have "known" creators and/or a proven track record of previous sales of other titles.
Take your two examples:
Avatar has a name now thanks to books by Ellis, Ennis, and Moore. Retailers have seen that their titles can sell and are more willing to try some of their other books that may not have known creators
As for Tarot, Jim Balent started it after his successful run at DC on Catwoman. While he may have not be a "big" name, he still have a built-in fanbase that retailers knew that would be willing to buy the book. And by being able to sell books each month, gave other retailers confidence to order more.
Each new publishers has to stand out to retailers in some way. Having a quality product will help, but that alone is sometimes just not enough. Having a know creator or property will help a lot. Having a good fanbase ready to buy your product will help as well.
There will also be some retailers that will not buy certain types of books. It could be a number of factors. Sure he might be able to sell a couple of your books, but he could also sell a couple more Marvel or DC books with the money he has left to buy books that month. Sometimes retailers just go with the safer bet depending on the type of customers they have shopping at their store.
350z, I'm a retailer. I read your first post, then kinda got mired in the rest. Let me chime in.
Part of the problem with soliciting is that it has to get the retailers attention. Pick up a copy of Previews from Diamond and browse it. The big 4 publishers (and their sub-divisions) dominate the front of that catalog (with Marvel being the exception in that they currently have their own companion book). Most of the rest of the publishers are relegated, mostly due to financial cost, to tiny thumbnail pictures of covers and a few sparse lines of text about the book they are trying to move. The point being, this is a terrible way to get a retailers attention for a new product in general. Some retailers are exceptional for spotting the new "thing", some aren't, and some only "play it safe" and order what they feel will sell.
Relying on Diamond to get the word out about your product is not the best way to go. They will only do what you pay them to do, which is an ad in Previews, which depending on how much you pay them can be tiny, to a two-page spread. And often, even that ad isn't enough.
You are going to probably have to get yourself a 2X4 and smack retailers in the head to get their attention. Much like getting a mule's attention. How to get our attention in mass effectively is always a tough question.
Myself, I make myself available as best I can during business hours to publishers and creators alike. Mine isn't the biggest store out there, but we're on the map. I get maybe 3 mailed-to-me previews of products a day. I often dedicate a portion of my day reviewing these submissions and trying to figure out their marketability. (I won't get into what makes me think a book will work or not. Sometimes I'm very surprised.) Sometimes I can help "the little guy", sometimes I can't. But for me, getting a preview DOES help me decide what goes on my rack or not. It stands out, I noticed it, 2X4 whackage effective.
Price is a big factor. The SRP (Suggested Retail Price) on something can tell me a lot. I've turned down a LOT of what I felt were decent products whose only fault was a sky-high SRP. EXAMPLE: I've got a B&W submission in front of me from a gent trying to market 84 page OGN (Original Graphic Novel). The art is very rough, and the story seems to me to be a tad common. If it's B&W, and 84 pages, I think a fair retail price for it is in the $9 to $12 range. The creator informs me that the SRP is $35. I'm not going to be stocking it at that price. It's not that I don't think that it can't find an audience, it's that I don't know if I can find an audience HERE at $35. It' too much a gamble. At $9 to $12, I'd play ball and get some (depending on my cost through the distributor), but $35 is too much for the average consumer on a product that I am going to have to dedicate a fair amount of mine and my employees (meaning payroll money) time to hand-sell... and even then there's no guarantee. No, in this case, if the product stays the way it is, I have to give it a pass.
If you've an ongoing product (monthly, bi-monthly, whatever), please inform the retailers about this, and then stick to the schedule. By the rules that a retailer has to operate under with Diamond, once we order a product (through Diamond) we are committed. When books start missing their schedules, sales plummet and a retailer can NOT do anything about their money being thrown away (or rather to Diamond) on prduct that isnt going to move. Depending on the title, they can plummet hard or soft, but for a book that's from a non-Big-4 publisher, missing your schedule is a kiss of death, no matter how popular the title may be (Recent example: Tek Jansen). Don't blow deadlines, because many retailers are being constantly bitten by the lateness problem, and once we get a chance to "catch-up" in the lag between solicitation and arrival and the product has shown unreliability, in general a retailer is going to slash orders.
There's some more, but something just jumped out at me at work. I'll check back later and chime in if appropriate.
With Tolerance For The Market Share...
As a store owner (and the person who does the ordering) I can share a couple of thoughts with you that might better help you understand the ordering process:
As others have pointed out the Previews catalog is gigantic, and I am pretty sure most store owners are like me and wait till a couple of days before our order is due to actually start the ordering process. The chances of me evening noticing your book if I have not been alerted to it beforehand (by getting a preview copy or one of our customers preordering it or you getting an interview or review on one of the newssites) are almost nil, as I am frantically just trying to finish my order. In other words, make sure you publicize your new title in more than just Previews.
The other thing to keep in mind is that we (again like most stores) have a limited amount of shelf space for new books. One of the biggest deterrents to ordering new titles is that our Diamond discount on your book might only be 40-45%, versus 55% from Marvel and DC (which we can sell at least a few of, even if they are bad). To be honest, if you don't offer at least 50% off on your book, I probably would not bother to rack it, unless my customers specifically request it and/or tell me how good it is - a good example of a book that took off by word of mouth here was the recently released Atomic Robo.
Sounds like you are on the right track by at least doing your marketing research long before releasing the book. Good luck.
@Brandon, GCom, and pulpfiction: Thanks for posting. I love this stuff. This discussion is a good one.
I'm not blowing smoke here (because I don't have a product yet), but being a retailer is a job that is incredibly difficult. The sheer number of products that a retailer has to move through to decide whether or not it will become an asset is daunting to say the least. With that in mind, I already know that getting a retailer to look at a new product is going to be hard. That's why I decided to send out as many copies as I can to as many retailers as I can before I even have that tiny listing in Previews. Hell, finding a new title in Previews is like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles.
Now while this is an incredibly subjective thing to ask, I still think there are some universal answers. In one of my posts, I came up with a general criteria for what may make a book salable. What are some of the things that retailers look for in new titles (other than a consumer asking for the title beforehand)?
I am always going to say "A story." That's harder than it sounds, but a good story will keep customers coming back. Capture their minds, entertain them, and they will be yours. Now don't think that you can tell a story that everyone will love. I'll just say that you can't. Some people will like it, some will love it, some will hate it, some will simply form no opinion, and some will stalk you on the internet. You just can't please everyone. But whatever you come up with story-wise, make it the best one you can.
Originally Posted by 350z
Consistent art. Notice I didn't say "good art.", I said "consistent." If you have a good story, and the art successfully communicates that story, then you've almost made it. "Good" and "Bad" are value judgments, and there's lot of room in this industry for a lot of art styles (but let's face it, we know bad art when we see it.), but the trick is to be consistent in the art: no glaring style changes without purpose, no oddball proportioning without purpose, and nothing that will cause the reader to stop reading the story and go "What the heck is that thing?" You want them to keep moving eagerly to the next thing in the story, not be yanked out of it by some incongruity.
Lastly (for now), in this internet age, politeness to the readers on the part of the creator(s). You can make or break a fan with how you treat them in face or online. You can have the most wonderful and engaging story to tell, but if when a fan asks you that annoying question for the 23 quintillion time, how you answer will either please them and make them seek your stuff out later, or turn them into a hater who will speak badly about you to whoever will listen. This one can be really, really tough, and it's hard to learn how to manage this for some people, but it is important. And since you will be trying to get your new product out into the spotlight, you will be talking to a lot of people.
That's what I got for the moment.
With Tolerance For The Steps Taken...
Good stuff GCom. I appreciate it. While there are many different types of comics out there, and we all have different tastes, I definitely think that there are comics that we can look to and say these are salable comics and list the reasons why. I also think that it's even easier to look to certain comcs and say that these comics are not salable. I want to reduce the numbers of elements of a comic that make it not salable--whether or not people will like the comic or not.
@Pulpfiction (and any other retailer out there): I have been struggling with this one. I know my format is going to look something like this: black and white, full-color cover, 16 interior pages, bi-monthly (even though I could do monthly with the first three issues at least because they are already in the can--I won't be missing deadlines if I can help it, and having never been through this process, I want to give myself as much leeway as possible). I struggle with the price point a bit. I don't want to make it seem like readers are being over charged at $2.99 per issue, but at the same time, when the price point is too low, readers over look it. The discount that I was aiming for was indeed, at least, 50%. I wanted to try to match Marvel's, but I am not sure how econmically feasible that will be. Any suggetstions?
I think you are wrong on your observation about pricing, specifically you state if price is too low customers will "overlook" your book
Several indie books have launched here successfully because they started with a 50 cent or $1 issue. In addition, one of our best selling indies is Fell, which many people took a chance on because they liked the idea of a monthly book that costs only $1.99.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a portion of the public that will not look at your book if it is black and white - weigh the lost sales when considering the costs of color vs black and white.
To be honest at 16 pages of black and white, you might consider the $1.99 price, again bearing in mind that for $2.99 or more, most consumers will opt for for a larger, color comic. The other thing I would suggest is that in get a few more issues "in the can" and try to be monthly - I have definitely noticed a difference in sales between monthly and bi-monthly indies here at the store.
I'm in total agreement with pulpfiction here.
Originally Posted by pulpfiction
With Tolerance For Previous Examples...
I know this may sound preposterous, but I have known many readers who look at a comic and if it's an indie, and if it's priced too low, they take an attitude of "well, it must be crap and that's why the book is priced that way, so I won't even bother to look through it."
And yeah, I know a black and white title will limit the audience, but I have designed the project to be in black and white, so I don't think I will change it to grab readers. I did have something else in mind however...
The lasts two posts have been really helpful, and I want to thank you sincerely for your input. It's really helped.
I'm curious what the two books you walked out of Retailer X's store were that were "first issues from new publishers and creators." I ask because, I believe, your examples of Avatar and BroadSword are very, very flawed. Avatar has built its line slowly over the last 10 years. The fact that they are, almost exclusively, a home to Moore, Ellis, Ennis, Pulido and some licensed material means they are home to established names and properties.
BroadSword is a bit different, but as Brandon already mentioned, Jim Balent was a big name coming off an incredibly successful and long run on Catwoman. He started Tarot very shortly after and has been getting his product out, on-time, bi-monthly for over seven years with very little drop in readership. The retailer knows very well what he can and can't sell on that title. So, I just wondered what you were buying as you kind of bashed the retailer a bit there and your examples so far don't really support the bashing.
Also, while I can understand the frustrations as a customer of a shop that doesn't do much indie stuff, I can completely sympathize with him. One local shop by me doesn't stock anything outside Dark Horse, DC, Image and Marvel. Why? Because that's all their customer base wants and it's safe and it's easier. When I was thinking about getting a pull box with them, they assured me that they would get anything from Previews I wanted, but, no, they wouldn't be regularly stocking stuff from Oni or Avatar or Top Shelf.
So, I went to a different shop. The retailer there has a much broader selection on the shelf, but he told me that he runs into a problem with having too much in the way of back issues for smaller press stuff. He can order indie books from ceiling to floor and promote the ones he loves to death and he's still not going to get 95% of his customers to even look at it because it's not Marvel or DC.
And even with that kind of retailer, they can't order everything. It's up to me as the reader and customer to know what I want when it comes to smaller press books. I'm going to be the one requesting that random book from that random publisher no one has ever heard of and maybe getting my shop to add an issue to the shelf. I don't think it's your job to overly impress the retailer or provide them with "new products and assets to generate more income" (a statement that I believe is WAY off base). The only title a retailer ever successfully got me to check out was Quantum & Woody. And that was 11 years ago. It's your job to get the word out to the consumers via conventions and the 'net to generate buzz about your book. A retailer can't do that for you as well as you can do it for yourself.
Last edited by SwiftMann; 07-18-2008 at 11:17 AM.
16 pages in B&W for $3 will probably not work in this market. Unless you're the Second Coming, but, realistically, odds are you aren't.
I also really want to agree with SwiftMann's last paragraph -- while it is the retailer's job to sell, they don't have any responsibility to individual publishers or individual books, unless it's something they want to sell.
It is up to the publisher to GENERATE demand for a work; it is up to the retailer to FULFILL that demand. Those are two different things entirely.