2012 is off to a strong start for the publishing side of ComixTribe. As was reported on a prominent comics news site last Friday, we’ve doubled the network of retailers carrying our books in the last month, and have shipped more than 2,000 books to retailers thus far this year. SCAM and THE RED TEN are getting solid reviews, the books are moving off of the racks, and we’re building an engaged fanbase. Online sales are up, and new retailers are contacting us every week about stocking our books. While we’ve still a LONG, LONG way to go, there’s been a fair amount of interest in what we’re doing, from both the comics media, and other independent creators. And one of the question that has started to come up more frequently is: How do creators submit their work for ComixTribe’s publication consideration? What is ComixTribe’s submissions policy, anyway?
The short answer is, at present, we don’t have one.
State of the ComixTribe
Yes, 2012 is off to a great start for our imprint. However, we are still very much a bootstrapped organization being held together by a ton of sweat equity from passionate comic creators. Editor-in-Chief Steven Forbes, in addition to being our most consistent and prolific column contributor, has his editorial hand in nearly every book we publish. Yannick Morin, in addition to his help every week with The Proving Grounds, has stepped up as our Digital Comics Manager, getting his hands dirty keeping our books coming out on all available platforms and keeping up to speed on new ones. Lisa-Marie Wilson joining the team as PR Manager has been a big reason our books are getting increased visibility and included in the conversation. Furthermore, creators like Joe Mulvey and John Lees have gone above and beyond in the effort to spread the word about our books. And finally, traffic on the site continues to grow, and every day new faces show up and interact here.
So, yes, we are a strong and growing entity. That said, our bandwidth is still incredibly limited. There’s only so many books we can publish, and we are still very much in an experimentation mode. We’re still finding out what sell, what works, and what processes need to be in place to get books out there. We’re still making plenty of mistakes, and figuring things out as we go along. For this reason, we are not actively looking for books to publish.
What We’re All About
That said, our mission statement is and always will be creators helping creators make better comics. We want to help you make the best work possible, and we want to help you make it successful. In most cases, that’s not going to be through publishing your work, but more through the advice and opportunities we offer creators.
That said, we do still have our eyes open. With the success of SCAM and THE RED TEN, and with our growing relationship with retailers, we’re starting to get a sense of what works in the market. If we come across a property that we think we can help, and that will be a mutually beneficial relationship between ComixTribe and the creator, we may pursue it.
Chances are, however, is that we’re going to find out about the property because:
- The creator(s) behind it are already interacting with us here at ComixTribe, through the site or social media.
- The creator is determined to make the property successful regardless of publisher, and is doing the right things to make it so.
Joe Mulvey’s SCAM is a great example. Joe was a guy who was doing all the right things. In addition to being a talented storyteller and developing a strong high concept, Joe was building his own platform. Highly energetic and engaging on Twitter, and doing a great article series on his blog, Joe was clearly someone passionate about comics and his project. After several months of informal chatting, and a few Skype discussions, I felt confident that SCAM was a book that myself and ComixTribe could help make stronger. When Image passed (or more accurately never got back to Joe about) on SCAM, we were thrilled to bring it into the ComixTribe fold.
But doing so was no easy decision.
I knew bringing SCAM to ComixTribe was going to but some burden on myself. Now, SCAM is Joe’s baby, and he has years and years of development into the series. It pales in comparison to anything I’ve done for it. But still, publishing a book is a commitment. I’ve probably got at least 80 hours of my own time invested into the book, everything from editing to proofing, page prep to promotion, I’ve got plenty invested in SCAM. Likewise, I’ll have to invest plenty in ANY book ComixTribe publishes.
Which is why I have to BELIEVE in the book.
I believe in SCAM. I believe in THE RED TEN. I believe in THE STANDARD, and EPIC, and TEARS of the DRAGON. And I believe in a few other titles we have yet to sign, but are working on.
Comics is a “what have you done for me lately” business. You’re only as good as your last book. Retailers that are working with us have warned us not to go too fast. Not to push too hard. Because our model only works when books sell. Our model only works if retailers think they can make money on our books. Our model only works if the fact that a store carries ComixTribe books is a destination draw and a value add.
And that only happens if the books are quality products and have broad appeal to core customer demographics of the shops we work with.
Unfortunately, that really does narrow the scope of what we can effectively publish at present. Right now, we’ve stumbled on an approach that’s working, so for the foreseeable future, everything we look to publish will follow the approach of SCAM. (No, we won’t only be publishing super-hero conman stories.) But what we will be publishing will be books that:
- Are extremely easy to pitch…If we can’t hook you in a Tweet, it won’t be published.
- Has strong appeal to the core demographic of the comic market.
- Has very strong art and story-telling.
- Has the potential to be a trans-media hit. (Spin-offs, toys, secondary products, etc.)
- Are in the Teen/Teen+ realm, rather than Mature/Adult titles.
- Has a creative team that will be be very active in promoting the book.
To sum it up:
- ComixTribe is not actively seeking books to publish at present.
- We will take a look, however, and want to help.
- The more you’re an engaged participant in the stuff we have going at ComixTribe, the more likely we are to consider your work.
- What’s the one sentence hook that’s going to capture people’s attention?
- What’s the Tweet about your book that’s going to get RT’d and resonate?
- Who is the target audience?
- What creator’s readers are you gonna steal with this book?
- What’s the theme or core idea you’re exploring?
- What’s remarkable about this book?
- Why are people going to talk about it?
- Why are retailers going to bet on it?
Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, and educator residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of superhero murder mystery maxi-series THE RED TEN, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and Tears of the Dragon, a swords and sorcery fantasy. His past work includes OVER, a romantic comedy graphic novel, and Super Seed, the story of the world’s first super powered fertility clinic. His work has been published by DC and Arcana comics.
Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, a new website empowering creators to help each other make better comics.
Category: Comix Counsel