Monday, May 11, 2009

Another learning weekend.

Well it's finally happened. Cancertown is a real, hold it in your hand book, and I have my copy. You will probably remember me talking about this graphic novel that has been written by a friend from university. This weekend I was lucky to have the chance to be at it's launch at the Bristol Small Press Expo, and help introduce people to it. As ever at these events I learned a lot, a large part of which I can use in what I do. I think the tow most obvious to me were how much easier it is to toot someone else's horn and how great it is to have a prop when doing it. I guess it does help when the book looks and feels good. The printing and binding are really nicely done. I am hoping the printer who did it will be able to give me a good price on doing my book so I can have him do them. So the third thing is, do your best on every job, you never know who will see it or what business they might send your way.

I've been surprised at each comics event how similar it is to the quilting industry. Even going in knowing that it still catches me out. This weekends revelation is that the comics industry is starting to struggle with it's wholesale system. Like quilting wholesalers send out a catalog listing new products. It has a tiny picture and a few lines of text. I had already realised this is useless for evaluating a new product and pretty hit and miss when you know exactly what you are looking for. When I try and select the right pins from one of these books, it can take me an hour to get the right code for what I wanted and I know exactly what I am looking for. Imagine using that system to sell a book or a pattern. A picture may an inch square just doesn't work. This lead to several people trying to come up with some better ideas for selling new products (OK they were thinking comics but a good idea is a good idea where ever it comes from). Really the best, though not terribly practical answer) would be to put one of your product into the hands of the potential buyers. For comics, patterns and books a shop owner is much more likely to stock your product if they a can hold it in their hands and read it. They need to know it is of good production quality and well written. They would like to be able to see how it fits both their shop and their customers. As I said this isn't going to work on a large scale, but perhaps we can get closer to it. How about using online systems to allow customers to read part of a book (take a look on Cy's site to see the first chapter of Cancertown for example)? It seems like a good way to let people try a product before buying, and it is a lot easier, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly than printing and posting. Perhaps offering a printed extract or a sample pattern to shops interested in your work would be a good idea too? That's trickier because I know that I use different printing companies and processes for different products but I do aim for the same standard throughout so it might work. Maybe the time has come for wholesalers to make their catalogues electronic not printed. It would save them postage costs even if it were still posted as a CD is a lot cheaper to ship then paper. Having given it some thought a wholesaler could probably get a lot of their suppliers to enter information about their product into electronic forms with an automated process to produce formatted pages. You could end up with a whole page per product like many web stores. This would benefit all sides of the process, the suppliers can really explain why we want their product, the wholesaler would save on postage and printing and hopefully sell more and the shops can make a more informed decision. Anyone fancy grabbing the idea an running with it in either industry?

If anyone would like a copy of Cancertown I do have a few to sell. I even have a very limited number signed by both the writer and the artist (thanks for letting me drag you to a dodgy looking carpark guys). Just send me an email and I will come up with a way of getting a copy to you. Failing that Cancertown is available on Amazon as well. Thanks for inviting us Cy and keep up the good work.


Cy Dethan said...

Thanks again for your help, support and for watching my back this weekend. We had a storming convention, and you and Tet played a major part in that.

Ferret said...

It's a pleasure, fun and a great chance to learn. Hopefully we will have many more. Now I've got to get my book ready for you to sell at the NEC :) Tet is working on it as we speak.

Something I forgot to say in the main post is how impressed people were with the foreword to Cancertown. I am thinking of 'borrowing' that idea too.

Ooooh so much to do and so little time.

CatFang said...

All ready for the NEC with my magic selling fingers!

It was great to have you and Tet there.

And you should tell people to look very closely and see if they can spot you both in the book.

How long before you before you have the publishing world all sewn up as well :) ?

Ferret said...

That's true I forgot to mention that. I guess everyone will have to buy a copy just to play hunt the Ferret :)

If I wasn't so busy I'd run a competition based on that. Maybe after the Festival of Quilts.