On May 30, the June PREVIEWS catalog goes on sale, and buried deep within will be a solicit for SCAM #1, our first Diamond Distributed book. On the one hand, Joe Mulvey, myself and the rest of the ‘Tribe couldn’t be more thrilled. While we had made great strides micro-distributing our titles to indie-friendly retailers, the simple fact is that NOT being in Diamond meant there were hundreds of retailers who were never going to give us the time of day. Now, they can order our books right in with the rest of the comics they order.
On the other hand, we recognized that simply being in the Diamond catalog is no guarantee at all the we’ll get a single order. Want humbling? Go to the PREVIEWS Website’s monthly cancellations page and see how many titles get their orders canceled by Diamond each month. So, we’re under no illusions that we’re going to do blockbuster sales numbers without hustling once more, and we’re cooking up some schemes to do just that. (I’ll likely be talking more about that in this space over the next few weeks.)
But, before you get the opportunity to ever face the daunting challenge of getting retailers to order your book in PREVIEWS, you need to first get accepted to publish through Diamond. Diamond offers thousands of products for sale each month, and likely turns down thousands more. Our Diamond rep told me that the ComixTribe submissions package was among the more polished they had received recently, and we did get accepted, so I figured I’d share what we did with you all.
No Big Secret
First, I need to point out that Diamond does a pretty good job of explaining what you need to do to submit your work. The Vendor Page on the Diamond Website covers the submissions process thoroughly, and also goes over what happens once you are accepted. There’s a ton of good information there, and I ended up reading and re-reading it several times through, before preparing the submissions package. I suggest you do the same.
From the information on the website, I gleaned that there really wasn’t all that much I needed to provide in the submissions package:
- Cover letter
- Terms of Sale
- Product Information
- Hard copies of the Product
Pretty straightforward stuff.
The Cover Letter
I hate addressing cover-letters (or letters in general) to Whom it May Concern, so I spent a little time scouring the Diamond Directory to try to find out the name of the person who handles new comic submissions. I knew a one page cover letter is all that is appropriate, and I wanted to stress a few key things:
– That ComixTribe has been doing this for a while and has a big future ahead of us.
– That we’ve already demonstrated the viability of our product with some retailers.
Here is what I wrote:
tyler.james @ comixtribe.com
March 2, 2012
Sarah Martinez or New Comic Submissions Manager
Diamond Comics Distributors, Inc.
1966 Greenspring Drive, Suite 300
Timonium, MD 21093
Greetings! My name is Tyler James and I am the publisher of ComixTribe, an independent, creator-owned comic book and graphic novel publisher.
I am writing to establish a distribution relationship with Diamond Comics Distributors, Inc. I’ve spoken with representatives with your company at the 2011 New York Comic Con about our work and about working with Diamond in the near future.
For the past two months, ComixTribe’s books SCAM and THE RED TEN have been making headlines in the comics news media, with our direct-to-retailer sales efforts. We’ve proven our books will sell in shops that carry them, and as a publisher we are now ready to engage the entire direct market, and hope to work with you to do so.
We currently have a stable of a half dozen quality comic books, mini-series, and graphic novels in the superhero, action/adventure, horror, and fantasy genres, and have several more in development. I’ve included a sampling of our work, some of which we hope to distribute through Diamond in 2012.
Should you require any additional information, please call me at [phone number] or email: tyler.james @ comixtribe.com. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, and I look forward to doing business with you.
Short, sweet, and to the point.
Terms of Sale
This was the part of the submissions I was the most worried about, but again, just following instructions on their submissions page got me through it. Diamond ends up going over this stuff with you on your account set up call once you are accepted.
Proposed Terms of Sale
We are interested in pursuing a long-term relationship with Diamond and are prepared to offer terms of sale on par with other small-press/independent publishers.
Standard discounts of 60% off cover price for comics and graphic novels.
Standard Net 30 payment terms.
Minimums and Increments
In general, a minimum of order of 1,500 units for comics and graphic novels will be required to make shipping viable.
Shipping charges to the distribution center will be paid by ComixTribe. We look forward to speaking with our Diamond Brand manager about the most efficient shipping arrangements for our products.
Again, following their requirements to the letter, I submitted product information and one sample issue for four total comics: SCAM #1, THE RED TEN #1, THE RED TEN #2, THE STANDARD #1, and THE STANDARD #2. I do believe one of the strengths of our submissions package was that we weren’t just shipping single products or one-offs, but we had a set of books from our line, showing our capabilities as a publisher.
Here’s the product info I submitted for SCAM:
Issue Number: #1 of 5
Name of Creators: (W) Joe Mulvey (A) Joe Mulvey
Synopsis: SCAM is “X-Men meets Oceans 11″ and involves a team of super-powered grifters on the biggest con of their lives…taking down a Vegas casino and getting revenge on a former teammate who double-crossed them. “It’s better to die a conman, than live like a mark!”
Intended Audience: Teen and up
Format: full color, 44 pages, 6 5/8”x10 ¼” (standard American comic size)
Retail Price: $3.99
Country of Origin: US or CA
Ship Date: (flexible)
Order Increase Cut-off: (flexible)
UPC Code: 61037359769
Note: I heard Diamond will reject books that don’t have barcodes. Now, I’m not sure if they’re needed in the submissions process, but I wasn’t willing to take any chances. I’d recommend putting a barcode on any book you submit to Diamond just to be on the safe side. (Here’s an article on barcodes if you’re as clueless as I was on the subject.)
As for the books, I simply put finished, full-color copies (one each) of each of my books into a clear plastic bag, and included that in with the product info. (Don’t worry, once you’ve been accepted, PDFs are fine for new product.)
And It’s As Simple As That
That’s really all there is to it. I put the pack in the mail, and forgot about it. No, I’m serious, I totally did forget about it…and got right back out there hustling for our next micro-distribution release. That’s a key thing…getting accepted, getting a yes from a company that can help you is a wonderful thing…but you NEED contingencies. Your back up plans should have back up plans.
Some three-four weeks later I got an email saying that ComixTribe had been accepted, and that the next step would be a call with our new Diamond rep, Kate Henning. (She’s great.)
So, there you have it. This is what worked for us. This is how we got in the door.
The most important thing to realize though, is that the submissions part…that was easy. The real hard part was all the time and effort put into making books that could sell, and then proving that on a small scale. The submissions pack was just a short exercise in telling that story.
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