Okay, this is a little long, and we’re short of time, as always but in essence, Ryan McLelland over at Newsarama reports on the sad story of MR. SCOOTLES, HC Noel’s critically well-received but unprofitable self-published book. It seems Noel signed up with Open Book Press, a small publisher, to repackage the first three issues and then publish a bunch more issues and two more mini series. As a lengthy series of e-mails reveals, this plan was continuously undone by incompetence and skullduggery, with Open Book’s business plan emerging as entirely print-on-demand. When new owners took over Open Book, Noel was, effectively, shit out of luck:
“By signing with Open Book Press, I lost a year of creating, marketing and self-publishing my series, Mr. Scootles. The new owners have informed me of the lack of bookkeeping, actual publishing, and marketing that the prior owner(s) were guilty of. They show no records of sales for Mr. Scootles, however I know several copies have sold and yet I have not made one cent from these sales. Hell, I even ordered one myself.
Now, we even remember posting something about Open Book Press, back in the day, when they made a blanket call to publish any books left orphaned by Speakeasy’s demise. (You might want to click on the link as it contains a particularly hilarious bit of Beat business that imagines Speakeasy as Eliza Doolittle and…well…maybe it wasn’t so funny.) We were skeptical then, and had any friend of colleague asked us about Open Book, we would have said…YELLOW FLAG! PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!!
Anyway, we here at Stately Beat Manor remain continuously flabbergasted by the creators — both new and veteran — who are continuously taken in by signing “contracts” with these dinky little “publishers” out there. HAVE YOU PEOPLE EVER HEARD OF BACKGROUND CHECKS??? Have you ever heard of common sense? The Beat can only shake our head as we pass people in Artist’s Alley who hint at their “new plan I can’t tell you about”…true, we never hear about it until you’re whining in Lying in the Gutters about how you never got paid. It seems that one of the reasons people don’t like running the background checks is because they think wishful thinking will solve EVERYTHING. They’d rather not know that this crazy scheme will never work.
Chris Butcher has read all the above and presents a very sound guide to getting published. PLEASE, PEOPLE, READ THIS. Print it out and tape it to you desk. Chris doesn’t sugar coat the epsom salts:
1. Real publishers do not use ‘digital print to order’ or ‘print on demand’ services. Those are for hobbyists and the very vain, and you owe it to yourself to have a professionally printed book if that’s what you’re going to do. 1a. I lied. Real publishers occasionally do use PoD services, to print “Advance Reading Copies” that they then give away for free, to the press, before the real book is printed. 1b. If you’re using Lulu or whomever to print your own stuff, more power to you. Just don’t build a publishing empire on it alright? It’s sad and you’re losing money on every book you sell, if the point is to actually sell books. 2. Sometimes, ‘finding a publisher’ is not as important as simply not sucking. Do you suck?
Reality check: Whatever the ultimate business plan at Speakeasy was, Adam Fortier was no industry virgin, and look how his company got messed up. IT IS NOT EASY TO PUBLISH COMICS IN AMERICA OR ANYWHERE ELSE. Does your publisher have kajillionaire Sir Richard Branson bankrolling it? Great! Then maybe you will sell 5000 copies in the direct sales market. Think about THAT metric.
MR. SCOOTLES’ myspace page tags the character as “Your favorite cartoon failure.” Maybe not something you want to spread around, but the reality is selling your soul just so you can have a printed comic book in your hand is a game for dreamers and wishful thinkers these days.