The Diamond Summit in Vegas was the best learning experience for a startup publisher like OSSM Comics. Heading to the desert, I had no idea what to expect from our first ever retailer summit and neither did President of OSSM Comics, Omar Spahi.
Along with Bleeding Cool contributor, Alex Wilson, we took a weekend road trip to the Diamond Summit to meet with retailers, give them a first look at our upcoming titles and convince them our books are worth ordering.
Here are some of the things we learned that I hope will help other retailers and publishers out there:
FOC is final. Major publishers do a press push timed to FOC, because they can adjust their print runs 3 weeks before the on sale date. For small publishers like us, orders close 2 full months before the on sale date.
Social media is growing our audience! Thanks to @FanboyComix, @ComicBTherapy, @graphicpolicy, @bleedingcool and our followers on Twitter, retailers are hearing about OSSM.
All press is good press, right? Not so fast. One of the retailers told us to sell to fans, not retailers. Retailers can’t hand-sell every book. For a publisher our size, it’s a catch-22! If we don’t jump up on a table and yell look at us when orders are due, our books will be under ordered. OSSM Comics has already been covered by @CBR @HeatVisionBlog, @NerdistDotCom! And we have a HUGE press hit coming for MONOMYTH. Should we focus less on pushing press for our FOC date and focus more on coverage running a week or two of the book coming out? One retailer said if people come in asking for it, he’ll order it. Thoughts?
Controversy is only good IF people can buy the book! Some retailers said they won’t be stocking MONOMYTH because of its controversial story. I figured a concept like MONOMYTH, where Lucifer is the hero that tells Adam & Eve NOT to eat the apple and Michael the archangel is the villain would ruffle a few feathers. Still, I figured maybe we were small enough to avoid controversy. I was wrong. FOX NEWS is already interested in covering MONOMYTH because Lucifer is a hero. TV coverage might sell books… but only if retailers order enough copies.
Black & white is cool, but color is king. Black & white comics typically don’t sell, so if you have the money, find a good colorist. I personally LOVE black & white. The Crow is my all-time favorite graphic novel, and I love Walking Dead. To see that it’s not typical for a retailer to take a chance on a B&W comic broke my heart a bit, but was extremely useful to know. As an indie publisher, color comics are expensive, but publishing B&W comics that won’t be ordered is a lesson learned.
Communication is key. We live in a digital age, but nothing beats solid face time with each retailer, learning what type of books do well in their stores. Knowing this helps us figure out what types of books to do next and which areas of the world those would do well in.
A good newsletter can go a long way. We don’t have the money to send posters and promotional material to each store, but we can send images that we share with press to retailers, asking them to include it in their weekly/monthly newsletters to get their customers excited about upcoming books.
We love the other publishers very much, but a little friendly competition is still in order. We aren’t big enough to compete with most companies. Still, it’s useful to know what the other publishers are doing. This sparked a lot of creative ideas on our end. If we learned another publisher was doing a giant robots invading Earth story, it gives us the option to also release a book like that and possibly help start a trend, or avoid that since most likely their giant robot story would overshadow ours.
Though we all love comics, this is still a business, and we all just want to make sure it keeps going. We saw first-hand how personable each company was with retailers, and why that relationship is so important. It was great being around so many people passionate about comics.
We’ve always heard how cut-throat and nasty people can be in our business, but if there were any here, I didn’t see it. Many of these people I’ll be emailing and staying in touch with for, possibly, the rest of my life. As an introvert, sheltered, nerdy kid that stays inside and edits comics all day, knowing I could make so many new friends in a competitive industry, who were also supportive, was a really great thing to learn and be a part of.
RETAILERS: If you haven’t been to one of these Diamond Summits and are able to, please go. Meet the big dogs at all the major publishers, but also keep an eye out for us little guys.
In fact, there’s still time to give us a chance right now. Orders will close on two OSSM titles this Thursday, May 29th . We were even told at this summit that we had the best looking, and most enjoyable, indie comics that some retailers had ever seen. Hopefully you all feel the same with some of the images shown here.
FOSTER by Brian Buccellato and Noel Tuazon is a $12.99 graphic novel can best be described as Taxi Driver meets The Last of Us. It hits store shelves on July 2nd and is the first time the entire series, and it’s never-released ending, can be read in its entirety.
MONOMYTH by me, Siike Donnelly, with beautiful art by Eric Ninaltowski and colors by Peejay Catacutan, described as Gilgamesh meets Final Fantasy, is a 40 page comic, full color, for only $3.99.
Order FOSTER and MONOMYTH by Thursday, May 29th!
@OSSMCOMICS will continue tweeting about we what learned in Vegas. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook or follow #makecomics so we can keep the dialogue going.