Indy bands and self-published comics

The interesting thing about being in two different publishing worlds – comics and mysteries – is the times when one world’s opinions don’t exactly translate to the other.
That’s the case with self-publishing.
In the mystery field, quite understandably, self-publishing is not well thought of. There’s a lot of reasons for this: You can’t get the books into bookstores, there’s a perception (many times justified) that they lack quality and at the end of the day sale numbers are very low.
But the main reason is that there are a lot of publishing outlets for people who write mysteries so if your novel is good enough you can probably find a publisher.
In a recent twitter comment, publicist Dana Kaye said in reference to this blog post that she agreed self-publishing was nothing like being in an Indy band. And for the mystery field, she’s probably right.
In comics, though – and I think she’d agree – that’s not quite right.
Things have changed quite a bit in the past few years – for the better – but because of the dearth of publishing companies in comics over the years, and the overwhelming focus on one genre, a great tradition of self-publishing and small-press publishers developed in comics.
Along with that, venues for those products sprang up, cons large and small but always with space for the small independant. Not unlike the clubs and venues that give Indy bands opportunities to play and develop a following.
This weekend, mystery writers from all over are congregating in Indianapolis for Bouchercon, the big con for the mystery genre. But as large as it is, its attendance pales when compared to cons in the comics genre. Chicago’s attracts more than ten thousand fans, and even that’s nothing compared to the one in San Diego.
That’s not taking anything away from Bouchercon – I’ve been to two and if I could have managed to get to Indy I would.
But it does illustrate a difference between the two – comics conventions are far more sales-centric than mystery cons out of necessity for the “Indy band” culture in comics, something that isn’t needed at mystery cons.
And that’s not a bad thing. There’s a lot to be said for not having to work sales to pay for a table in artists’ alley at a comiccon, as opposed to simply attending a con for the panels, networking and comradery such as is happening in Indianapolis at Bouchercon right now.
Wish I were there!


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