Marketing vs Indie Publishing (or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Interwebs.)
If you’re an artist of any persuasion, it’s a pretty great time to be alive. Never has it been easier to create, showcase, and (most importantly) sell work by writers, artists, actors, filmmakers, musicians, etc. Thanks to the internet I connected with my illustrator in Mexico, (I happen to be in Pennsylvania, USA) to my distributor ComixCentral.com to anyone anywhere in the world.
Now the flip side to this coin is that with no middle men, there aren’t any middle men. No, that wasn’t a typo, but an unusual fact that can sometimes be a bit of a hassle for newbie comic book creators. One of the major issues I’ve run into since going deciding to go independent has been that the marketing and connections that go with working with a publisher simply aren’t there. The “No one telling me how to write my comic,” also sometimes comes with the “but no one will read it either.”
Now going indie was spurred by two major reasons:
1. I wanted to decide which artist to work with without a publisher using the buddy system and pairing me with a bigger name (and most likely) bigger ego than mine.
2. I didn’t want any interference with the subject matter or style I wanted to write in.
I can’t even fault publishers for the buddy system. It reduces the financial risk of putting two unknowns out there. It’s important to remember while this is a collaborative art it is also very much a business.
Now the second reason is a lot more common among indie authors. In some cases it’s just stubbornness on the part of the creator, but in others the subject matter of the book is too mature for most publishers to touch it. Case in point, Smut-Peddler. Smut-Peddler is a quaint pornographic comic anthology that got picked up and then put down multiple times due to the subject matter (consensual sex.)
What does Smut-Peddler teach us? Censorship guidelines can be obtrusive at the best of times and make no effing sense at the worst. For MusicMaker we deal with a lot of grown-up topics i.e. drug addiction, sex addiction, abuse, suicide, but what really had me biting my nails was the swearing (the sex addiction probably wasn’t going to win any prizes either.)
This is not to say the indie universe is much better. The trade off for the glamour of pure artistic freedom is that if you don’t want to follow the rules of a publisher, readers will expect some major rule breaking. Personally, we sometimes find ourselves in the tricky position of being too hard (he-he-he) for mainstream comics and not hard enough (uh-oh I’m sorry I swear this doesn’t usually happen) for the underground comix crowd.
With social media platforms such as twitter, Instagram and facebook, it’s never been easier to connect with an audience. Much of it boils down to finding the balance between creativity of self and commonality with others. And when you can’t do that, you can always just kill time watching funny cat videos.
Music Maker Comix