Michael Tierney on Critical Blast, Talking the Re-Opening of the Comic Industry

Things are starting to open back up, but that doesn’t mean that retailers are not in dire shape.

Major titles and events have been delayed, Diamond is gouging on shipping, minor titles are being canceled and/or made digital only, and retailers are having to navigate uncharted waters in a terrible business and labor climate.

One great way to support Michael in these trying times is to pick up some of his books, whether it’s his Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 Year Art Chronology or his Wild Stars science fantasy epic.

 

Wild Stars 35th Anniversary 2nd Edition + Cirsova Hardcovers Now Available Once Again!

As you know, we had some hiccups with our hardcover printer, but we’re back online and proud to announce the 2nd Editions of Cirsova’s hardcovers! The real highlight of this is the 2nd Edition of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars!

Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars 35th Anniversary Edition Omnibus

This fabulous 700+ page tome collects all four volumes of Michael Tierney’s science fiction epic.

Omnibus Cover 0.05 Front Only

Also available from Cirsova Publishing:

Summer Special 2020 #2

Spring 2020 [Vol 2, #3]

Fall 2019 [Vol 2, #2]

Summer Special 2019 #1

Spring 2019 [Vol 2, #1]

Winter 2018 [Vol 1, #10]

Fall 2018 [Vol 1, #9]

Summer 2018 [Vol 1, #8]

Spring 2018 [Vol 1, #7]

Fall 2017 [Vol 1, #6]

Spring 2017 [Vol 1, #5]

Winter 2016 [Vol 1, #4]

Fall 2016 [Vol 1, #3]

Summer 2016 [Vol 1, #2] [Kukuruyo Variant]

Summer 2016 [Vol 1, #2]

Spring 2016 [Vol 1, #1]

 

A Cirsovanomics Lesson: AmazonKDP Vs. IngramSpark

Here are some numbers the indies & selfpubbers who follow us might find interesting…

IngramSpark charges 3.85 per unit for the Summer Special + their BS $1.99 handling fee on top of any orders.

30% retailer discount [minimum allowable] off 14.99 SRP gives me $6.64 compensation per unit sold.

On the other hand, Amazon KDP charges 2.57 per unit.

The 60% of the cut I get at $14.99 is only 6.43, but:
  • -I can order copies without a BS $1.99 S&H fee per order on top of already outrageous shipping costs
  • -Amazon has cheaper shipping with tracking and delivery guarantees + international
Confession:

The reason we wait until after the release date to send gratis copies of Cirsova to contributors who do not put in an order for additional copies is that what costs <$7 to fulfill through Amazon with tracking costs ~$11 to fulfill through IngramSpark without tracking.

Plus Amazon has cheaper, more reliable international shipping than IngramSpark.

So across about a dozen contributors per issue with several issues, it saves us a few hundred dollars per year to wait until we can fulfill gratis copies through Amazon instead of using IngramSpark.

The ability to fulfill directly and affordably through AmazonKDP prior to an Amazon go-live date would mean we could sell subscriptions through crowdfunding once again, which would be hugely beneficial.

The buried lede in this post:

The break-even on something like the Cirsova Summer Special is ~300 sold

  • Content: $1150
  • Art: $500
  • Editing: $200
  • Gratis copies: ~$100

So please buy a copy!

Summer Special 2 2020 cover 0.03 Front Only

Some Thoughts on Retail-Markdowns, Wholesale Rates, Returnability and Comics

The other day, after talking with Michael Tierney about getting into stores as indies, I found myself thinking about my own experience experimenting with “cheap” and returnable product and the Alterna Comics experiment.

These days, I always recommend writers publishing books minimize the retailer markdowns and avoid returnability.

You can set your book at 55% or 30%.

I tell people “Always mark down for as little as you can and still be available for purchase on platforms that people buy books.” Anything else is just handing money to the platform selling your book, and you don’t actually increase orders or sales, because all stores order and stock to market. If you’re returnable, you risk losing your shirt if your books don’t sell and get stripped.

With Alterna Comics, the gimmick, we’ll call it, was that they are incredibly cheap to produce [Alterna prints on newsprint], so they could be offered to retailers at incredibly cheap rates [their SRP is $1.50; wholesale is probably 50 cents]. The problem is, retailers order and stock to market.

Just like Barnes & Noble isn’t going to see that your book is 55% off wholesale or more and say “we’ll order a ton of these and push them because we can order them cheaply!”, comic retailers aren’t going to order a ton of issues to stock just because the SRP is low and it’s “low risk”.

For independent comics, just like independent books, you’re largely looking at a market that serves existing fan niches. Copies are fulfilled when people who want to buy them ask for them to buy, whether it’s through Amazon or through a LCS retailer.

Even shops that go heavy on indies might buy one of any title just to check it out, whether it’s a $1.50 book or a $5 book. But they’ll order as many as people ask for. Just like if my book is only 30% off, Amazon will still order as many as people pre-order.

So, the solution is not to minimize unit costs in ways that appeal to retailers, but to effectively market your product to readers so that they’ll demand it from platforms. And if there’s demand on the platforms, you can charge a reasonable rate that will make you money.

I’d be remiss to leave out at the end of this that the new Cirsova is out through Amazon this week! [Both in softcover and eBook]

Summer Special 2 2020 cover 0.03 Front Only

 

 

Scratching the Pulps’ Surface A review of The Adventure Of The Naked Guide by Cynthia Ward [ Guest Post, J. Comer]

[Editor’s note: Cynthia Ward has a short story out in the Spring issue of Cirsova, which can be acquired here! We’ve also reviewed her novella, Adventure of the Incognita Countess here. The Adventure of the Naked Guide is available on Amazon.]

First: I know Cynthia Ward personally and discussed these works with her before publication.

Vinyl records can scratch.

Those of us old enough to remember the 1980s might remember what it felt like to hear scratching being deliberately used as a musical effect by DJs.  It was a remarkable instance of a bug becoming a feature.  Nevertheless, hip-hop wasn’t merely made up of sound effects or sampled records; it was something new.

When looking at Cynthia Ward’s Bloody-Thirsty Agent series, a mashup featuring Dracula’s daughter, we have the same issue. The pulps originated in the 1890s, and declined after WWII.  But a century after Edgar Rice Burroughs published “Under the Moons of Mars” and Tarzan of the Apes in 1912, the pulp genre remains. Philip José Farmer, author of the Riverworld series, often paid homage to the genre.  His “Wold-Newton” mashup is outstanding in its field.

Cynthis Ward’s Bloody-Thirsty Agent stories recall Farmer at his best.  The arc of her narrator, Lucy Harker, begins with her mother (Mina)’s rape by Dracula.  As in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mina gained vampiric powers, as did Lucy, a so-called dhampir.  Mina married Mycroft Holmes, who as in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, heads the British secret service.

Thus begins a planned story arc. In “The Adventure of the Incognita Countess” and “The Adventure of the Dux Bellorum”, Lucy travels on the RMS Titanic with Tarzan, meets Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, and becomes her lover, then saves Winston Churchill while battling pterosaurs from the Hollow Earth.  Exciting, but there’s more!

Naked Guide begins in the Lutha of Burroughs’ lesser-known The Mad King, then takes Lucy into the Hollow Earth’s “Pellicidar” to rescue Mina from Hitler/Mengele stand-in Dr Krüger. Clarimal joins them in an oddly-written scene. Meanwhile free-spirited An the Mezop chats with Lucy about spirituality, sex and the soul.  Lucy finds Mina and a terrible revelation about Mycroft Holmes and the British Empire.  What will Clarimal and Lucy do?    The daring duo continue their derring-do in “The Adventure of the Golden Woman.”

So what to make of this pulp-hop mashup?  Well, it resembles Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Farmer’s ‘Wold-Newton’ crossovers.  But neither Moore nor Farmer, despite writing Image of the Beast  and Lost Girls, wrestles with social injustice and LGBT issues as closely as Ward. Unlike them, she refuses to write erotica or pornography.  Her Lucy is not ‘modern’ in her attitudes, nor is Clarimal/Carmilla.  A trained fencer and experienced hiker, Ward writes action well, and pays attention to historical and linguistic research. Her stories, though fantasy, are realistic, and not about the experience of reading (the so-called ‘second-artist effect’).  This reviewer cannot claim to be unprejudiced, but Cynthia Ward does more than scratch the surface of the vast legacy of pulp. Recommended.