Ken Eppstein discusses the SECRET to self-publishing in the latest installment of Indie Insights!
Ken Eppstein is the editor, writer and publisher of the independent comic Nix Comics Quarterly, a small press anthology.
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Max Ink (Creator of the wonderfully Columbus-centric Blink series of cartoons and comics) asking me for tips on organizing and promoting his upcoming three stop tour of local businesses.
I was happy to hear from Max, but the email left me a little perplexed. (And I'm not just talking about the "z" he used instead of an "s" in his subject line. Shame on you Max. Who doez that?) Max has been at the self published artist thing a long time. Blink just turned eight years old this April and Max has been bending my ear about his comic for at least five of those eight years. Its sure doesn't seem like he has any problem getting the word out. He certainly already had my attention.
But, I never let being perplexed stop me from charging headlong into a situation, so I arranged to have a cup of java with Max on Sunday.
To say that Max is energetic is an understatement. Once he gets talking about comics, he is positively tornadic. An endearing quality, but it sometimes makes it hard to focus on what the conversation is actually about. If my estimation of the conversation is accurate, he was impressed that I had gotten some press and community involvement outside that of the normal comic book media and scene.
"Aha!" I said to myself. I should have know... Max wanted (cue ominous-build-up music) THE SECRET.
Yep. Max was on to me. I had an arsenal of organizational and marketing ploys tricks. Little did he know, THE SECRET (cue comic-let-down music) kinda sucks.
About twelve years ago, I opened Rudy Goose Comics on the Ohio State campus. My big idea was to sell comic books and garage punk records at the same place. OK. OK. It was Newbury Comics' big idea and I stole it. They shouldn't have left it out in the open if they didn't want me to swipe it.
Things didn't work out for the shop, in large part because the comic book side of the business never quite hit as well as the record side did, and I closed up after about a year. I was heartbroken. I had been married to the comic book scene and it blindsided with a goon serving me divorce papers.
What neither of us realized at the time that my brain was pregnant with Nix. Its only now with the twelve year gestation complete, that I've reluctantly extended the olive branch in hopes that our child may grow up with the benefit of two loving parents.
(That reconciliation would probably would be going better if the comic scene had given birth to fewer children of its own without me. While I was drying my eyes at home, watching Lifetime and wondering if it still thought about me at all, the comic book scene was out being more promiscuous than Wilt Chamberlain and Screamin' Jay Hawkins combined. Slut.)
Ahem... But I digress.... As with all divorces, my life went on. I kept on living. playing and working.
The work! I'm no Maynard G. Krebs, but did get shivers over the work I had to do. Temp gig after temp gig working for banks, insurance companies, universities and non-profits. Mind numbing filing, bureaucracy and busy work. Getting bids and placing orders. Getting projects in under deadline. Doing shipping and inventory. Figuring out how to get the most out of crappy Micrsosoft programs like access, word and publisher. Customer service and problem solving with vendors. The list of drudgeries is endless and I hated every moment of it.
I had my outlets. I kept at the record selling biz for all of those years. I also got into some DIY craft kind of stuff, making kitschy boxes and notebooks out of records that were in too bad a shape to sell. Both businesses were my lush oasis in the cultural desert that was my... gulp... career. These side businesses never made a lot of money (read: any money whatsoever), but they kept me in touch with cool musicians, artist types and general enthusiasts.
Of course, what eventually became apparent to me was that all of those clerical and administrative skills I was picking up were applicable to any business... Including a comic book business. And thanks to all of the record business and crafts stuff, I had a could muster a high level of enthusiasm from the people I had met over the years pursuing those side businesses. Click. Click. Turn. Click. All the pieces suddenly fit together for me.
So, that's my secret. If you want to learn how to organize and publicize like I do, take a lot of crappy office jobs and fail at a couple of cool side businesses.
Told you it kinda sucked.
Written or Contributed by: Ken Eppstein, Outhouse Contributor