I am currently preparing a book that we are working on entitled "The Stuff of Legend." The first volume is formatted as an approximately 96 page story. We are currently however trying to determine the best means of delivering the format and maximizing sales. Here are the two models we are currently looking at:
2x48 pages issues, with TPB to follow with extra content.
price: $4.99 full color, 8x8 (no ads)
cheaper entry price to the series, but requires people stick with the book for two months. The down side is that is requires multiple marketing pushes, which means it could fall off of retailers radars.
price: approximately $11-13.95 full color, 8x8 (no ads)
One book, to complete the first volume of the series, however might be less enticing, because it has a higher price point to get in the door. the bonus is that we can do a focused marketing push.
My question is, as retailers (and fans) in the direct market which method is preferable to you? we are participating in FREE COMIC BOOK DAY this year, so we should hopefully have a decent showing there, but we have no hard data on how that will help sales, if at all.
"The year is 1944. An allied force advances along a war-torn beach in a strange land, outnumbered and far from home. Together, they fight the greatest evil they have ever known. Never ending waves of exotic enemies come crashing down on them, but they will not rest. Thousands of miles away, the world is on the brink of destruction. But here in a child's bedroom in Brooklyn, our heroes, a small group of toys loyal to their human master, fight an unseen war to save him from every child's worst nightmare.
Led by the toy soldier known as the Colonel and the boy's faithful teddy-bear named Max, the toys enter the realm known as The Dark. There they will face off against the Boogeyman and his army-- a legion of the boy's forgotten, bitter toys. Fighting to survive insurmountable odds, the toys will discover this is a battle not only for the soul of a child, but for their own as well..."
I think a better choice is the 2-issue + TPB format. I'm thinking about how Mouse Guard sold minimal until the word really got around with issue #3, sending all the issues into multiple reprints and giving the HC a real kick at retail when it debuted. That comes from word of mouth/reviews and could really expand your available avenue chains for the later TPB especially if you really hype the added content bit (I'm thinking book stores/websites). The benefit of course is greater profits and greater exposure for the brand and the company towards future projects.
This is the riskier of the two choices compared to an OGN-only release. The downsides are: it will cost more to market (as you noted), there is the potential for sophmore issue drop-off (though I think there is much less risk with 2 issues than 3), and any potential for profit might not even be realized until the TPB comes out many months after the first issue (this doesn't even take into account the state of the economy). However I am of the opinion that any profit realized from this type of release would still be greater than an OGN-only release.
The current climate for singles isn't the best for new unproven talent/product.
For every Mouse Guard, there are tons more titles that don't find an audience with singles and are dropped by Diamond since they don't meet the sales minimums.
But it is true that singles can be a good marketing tactic to drive up sales. But you might end up losing money on the singles to make money/break even on the trade.
But you are only thinking of two issues at $5 each. That really isn't that different from only having one book at $11. Now if it were four or five issues at around $3 each, then you might have a slightly better market angle.
You also have to keep in mind that the direct market likes singles to be somewhat standard size. A lot of comic shop racks for sinlges are made for the regular comic size. A non standard sized single might be a hard thing for some retailers to shelf. Non standard sized trades are a little more forgiving in the direct market.
Thanks for the feedback guys, I really appreciate it.
We have decided to go with the 2 and then collect as TPB after much deliberation, speaking to mainly reps and retailers, as well as some readers. Pretty much for all the reasons that ultraaman laid out when weighing the pros and cons. I personally am a trade guy myself (though generally cause I've heard what a great series something was), but the numbers aren't there for us as a largely unknown publisher to put the success of the entire series on the one OGN. I know that its a tough decision to rack indie books in general, but I would think that it would be an even tougher decision to some degree to carry a more expensive trade, particularly in any quantity.We don't intend to exceed two issues however, for all the reasons already noted and the sophomore slump that issue 2 will inevitably find it self in. The two issues should make things more affordable to get in the door for everyone to test the product and unless we somehow did numbers that were astronomically lower than the previous books we have put out we will have no problems delivering two issues. We debated the merit of going three issues, but given our experience with past series and seeing the general indie landscape, it seems like it would be irresponsible as we would most definitely be operating at a loss. I don't expect a lot of cross pollination from Mike Raicht's other books, but if we can get some of the readers of his other series like "Army of Darkness" to try it out it might be easier to get them to try out something at a lesser price point..
The general consensus across the boards is that the 8x8 format could hurt us because of racking issues. It's a shame because we really think it fits the "theme" of the book and the more storybookish art and story. That said I think we are going to try to make it fit into the standard format for the single issues and then for the trade, which relies less on racking will be 8x8. We already have almost 60 pages of art complete, so we have already committed to the 8x8, but we have some ideas on how to make that work with standard comic size.
Last edited by MichaelDeVito; 12-14-2008 at 11:33 PM.