Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Well, what you’ve sent is fine, but a publisher can’t determine what they’re getting from this sort of package. Surely you know how hard it is to break in to comics, and, yet, how easy it is at the same time. Do the work, put it out, and people may not like your work; they may not buy it, but at least they know you can do it. Which is important.
I never go through the whole steps of the process for folks who send me stuff blind, but I feel a bit badly we had some crossed signals over the holidays, so I’m going to outline how REDACTED might be the next WATCHMEN but I would never know it based on your email and 12 page pdf.
Firstly, in your cover letter, you say you think the story might be best served by a six issue miniseries. If each issue is a color cover with B&W interiors and, say, a 24 page count and, optimistically, a 3000 copy print run (based on the current climate and the fact that you are unknowns), you’re looking at a publisher committing $30,000 to your printing bill alone. Six full-page PREVIEWS ads will top $7000, and throw in another three grand to round it off for production costs and shipping charges and whatnot, and that’s an outlay of forty grand. Just ballpark, but close enough. If the cover price is $2.95 a unit, and you sell to Diamond at 60% off, you get $1.18 a unit. That means you have to sell an average of around 5600 copies an issue just to break even on expenses before the creators start making money. That’s just unrealistic in this economic environment, where Marvel, Dark Horse, DC, and Image account for 92% of the sales of comics and every single other publisher in the back of PREVIEWS carves up that 8%. It’s just not going to happen.
What do you do now? You can keep soliciting the thoughts of other publishers; you can have a few beers and curse my name. You can believe me or not; me… I didn’t believe all the rejection slips I got from people telling me ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE: LIVE FROM THE MOON wouldn’t sell and that there was no audience for that sort of thing, and we’ve got Year’s Best Science Fiction and Best Publisher and real-world press up the wazoo for it. Does that mean those other folks were wrong? Well, no. They were right for how they saw it at the time. But I had a completed work, ready to go, and I thought I could entertain folks and market it to those under-served, and everyone who told me no made me more resolved that I was right.
And, you know, it turned out I was and there were some folks wanting to read science fiction graphic novels and some creators wanting to do whatever they wanted and I was only too happy to point out to those paying attention the quality work. And I ended up not being Kurt Vonnegut like I intended but Stan Lee or Roger Corman. And, you know; I’m fine with that.
But the way I see it, you’re going to have to do the same thing. If you have a story to tell, and a burning desire to have an audience see your work, you’re either going to have to be related to Paul Levitz, or you’re going to have to do it yourself until they offer you a chance to write KAMANDI based on the strength of your indie-darling reputation.
But either way, keep at it. If you love comics as much as I do, you’ll always find a way to make your own.