Advice from July’s Guests

This past July Pronto hosted Rebekah Isaacs and Jon Price the artist/writer team behind 12 Gauge’s Magus. They were kind enough to spend the evening with Pronto, sharing some of their advice and experiences as comic creators on the rise.
On Networking
School and professors can help
Networking communities and events (like Pronto) are good opportunities
Conventions are good as well
Send your stuff where ever you can
Build relationships cause people talk to each other
On Pitching
San Diego (or any large con) is not a good place to pitch to an editor
Editors are more likely to read a quick 1st issue
emails are a great way to go for artists, but nothing over 10 mb
Be confident in yourself and your idea
Have a small, well put together pitch
– 1 paragraph synopsis
– Very tight thumbnails
– Condense your premise down to one sentence
The nicer you are and more professional the better
On Approaching an Artist
Look for one just out of school
On the cusp of breaking in, but hasn’t gotten anything
Ask, “What are you working on?”
Still look to DeviantArt, Drawing Board, Pencil Jack an others
Being able to pay anything shows you’re serious
$25 a page minimum
On Getting Published
Companies don’t want to pick up full series
They like mini-series
Image isn’t the pickiest
They require first 5 pages, full art (they like pages)
They are a good gateway company
On Being Published and in the Industry
Being published is good but not a magic bullet
12 Gauge did an 80/20 split on Magus
Bulk of profits does got co creators
Magus sold ok, but the creators didn’t make any money
The profit margins are better in trades
Graphicly is a good company to work with for putting out your content
Comics are a small community, so don’t be a dick, people will talk.
Social media and interviews are a good way to promote your book
On the CGS Super Show
Excellent show
A very supportive group of people
People who go are there to spend money
Good for commissions
One of the best shows to sell and make money
Highly recommended con
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Advice from a shop owner!

As a previous post mentioned, in June Mike Bradley from Collectors Kingdom in Huntington Station Long Island stopped by. Here is some of his advice to Pronto:

Notes from July 7th Discussion w/ Mark Bradely
· Make friends w/ retailers; they can help promote
· Meet deadlines; will lose audience if issues take too long to come out
· Create rapport w/ store owners by getting their opinions on books. TAKE opinion, then read & discuss.
· Don’t become a pest & be too aggressive – store owners are doing you a favor (they carry indie books out of a love for the hobby, not b/c they’re making money)
· Shops find it harder to move digest-size / B&W / ash-can style books, and likely won’t give them the same focus/attention as reg. Comic-sized color glossy titles
· Best situation = consignment. Put X # of copies in the shop and see if they sell
· Get books OUT as cheaply as possible; lower cost = higher sales. Anything over $3 starts to meet w/ customer resistance
· Talk to retailers about putting their ads in your books to help w/ printing costs. Print more @ lower cost – gets more copies into distribution
· Doing promotional events in stores is comparable to cons – get more people interested, don’t be afraid to ask shop owners. HAVE A GAME PLAN. Events need to be of mutual benefit.
· Align promo events w/ store sales for max traffic. Can offer stores a percentage of profits but not mandatory
· Diamond is hard for indie books to break into. They are more apt to take in a more expensive anthology book ($10 or more) if it will sell. Min print run on reg books is about 300-500 / purchase @ 65% off
· Diamond = International. Will immediately hit every store in the world. Full page ads run about $2500 and GUARANTEE sales. A-D names more common – listed first
· MERCHANDISING: have to establish a property worth merchandising before you market it. Recurring logos, characters, etc. Start small – stickers, buttons, cards, magnets, etc.
· Use conventions as a chance to talk to dealers. Do they have a store? Are they willing to stock your books? Try to wholesale books to the stores.
· SUNDAYS are best (slowest) / lull on Saturday when they’re in a good mood
· Promote books far & wide and see how well they take off. Every store/state is different. Indie books more prone to variation between locations
· Print-on-demand sites for indie books can help reach a broader audience

2 Special Guests

Originally billed as an evening with Ken Knudtsen (pronounced Nood-sen), we lucked out that he brought his friend and fellow comic professional Jerry Ma. For those who don’t know Ken is the writer/artist of My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer, Crowpsey/Rufus & Cleveland, and I hate Zombies. Jerry is a graphic designer, T-Shirt Designer and Art Director of a comic anthology Secret Identities.
 
If the advice given could be boiled down to a word, it would be: Persistence. Also to simplify what it is to work in comics: Sacrifice.
 
To be more specific though, Ken and Jerry gave a lot of advice on how to network, talk to both fans and professionals and promote yourself in a gorilla fashion. so here are some key points that they shared with us: 
 
On getting work from major companies
 
No amount of rejection is too much, keep going and be persistent.
Make the big 2 have to hire you. Take a queue for Eric Powell, creator of The Goon. Create enough of a demand/fan base that the companies are forced to give you work.
Stick with your idea, show commitment and consistency.
Don’t do 10 titles with 1 issue a piece, do 1 title with 10 issues.
Go with the project you are most passionate about when deciding what to commit too.
Get at least 1 issue published and have the other ideas Xeroxed, it will show your commitment.
 
On working The Con
 
Make sure to walk through and talk to a lot of artists in Artists Alley.
Buy from the people you talk to, who are kind enough to give you advice.
Make sure to give them something as well.
Talk to everyone.
Always ask for submission guidelines from every company you talk too. They vary from company to company.
 
On working The Table
 
When behind the table at a con, be engaging and personable.
Don’t just sit there and expect the masses to come to you. Ken and Jerry like to toss an XFL football around when traffic is slow, it attracts attention and is a good conversation starter.
Start a conversation, ask people how they are doing, and if the conversation goes away from comics, let it.
Bring non-comics friends with you to the con, especially if they want to help. They will be even more passionate about selling your book then you.
When you have a table the goal isn’t just to sell books that year, but to get that person to come back to you in 3 years.  

On collaborating with other creators and publishers
 
Writer if you are unsure about an artist ask for 3 pages.
Set the expectations up right off the bat.
If someone is holding you back, you have to cut them loose.
Make sure everything is set up in a contract.
Creators make money after publishers make back there costs 1st.
 
On promoting and selling
 
Look to guerrilla marketing and distribution.
Just cause you are in Diamond, doesn’t mean anything.
Don’t be ashamed to ask you friends to go an buy your comics at a store. Jerry once had 40 asian girls come into Midtown comics to buy his book.
Be creative and shameless.
Make contacts with store owners at the convention. Try to get the retailer to buy 2 books.
 
In General
 
You need to have structure.
Constantly be doing something art-wise.
Sacrifice is the name of the game.
You do get rewarded for doing hard work.

Now you don’t have to take my word for it, feel free to read the other side of things by going to Ken’s blog: http://kenknudtsen.blogspot.com/2010/12/talking-about-myselfpart-2.html

Also check out what both Ken and Jerry are working on and doing:

My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer

Crowpsey/Rufus & Cleveland 

I Hate Zombies 

EpicProps.com
 
 
Well that is everything. Hope to see you on December 14th for our Creative Meeting. It will be at 7pm at Pronto Pizza on 41st St. between Broadway and 6th Ave.
 
Take care and Happy Holidays!
 
Dominic
Editor-in-Chief
Pronto Comics: If one succeeds, we all succeed!