(Actually, first it made me think dire, failure!-horrible-wretched-self-pitying thoughts. Then I made myself claw tooth and nail for perspective and mostly got there. It helped that she was really supportive about it and had only a few minor suggestions that all twisted right back into expense [namely that it would be cooler if the color pages were more evenly distributed instead of in a chunk, which was done to keep expenses DOWN. My judgment call there to keep the cost down, while correct, was not enough.]. She was very kind and wished me lots of luck with it - and you could tell it wasn't empty 'sorry hon, not up to par' stuff, just a hard money choice.)
This is a scale of economy issue that probably all small press faces. The smaller the press, the worse the problem, of course.
This hasn't put me off of putting out the next anthology, nor have the generally slow sales, but it HAS made me think about the costs of it a lot harder.
A LOT harder.
(For those of you that are newish to my LJ, I speak of the 2006 EMG-Zine anthology, a compilation of the highlights of EMG-Zine.)
[Additional sidenote: zine is pronounced ZEEN. As in, short for electronic magaZINE.]
The first thing that gets my critical look is the artwork and fiction section in the center. I'm considering cutting it entirely. It's the bulk of the cost (because of the color!) and about 25% of the page count. That contributes a LOT to the cost of the book.
22% of the retail price goes to the contributors. I've already cut wholesale royalties to 11% of the wholesale price, and I'm still only 40% under retail with my pricing - I'm making next to nothing on them and it's not as attractive as a straight 50% off. I don't really want to pay artists less.
If I cut the book to 100 pages (or under), and chop the color section to just a few pages, I might be able to wholesale a $20 book for $10, instead of a $30 book for $18. That's a lot more attractive in a whole lot of ways.
Some of you good folks actually bought the thing - what are your thoughts? Was the fiction and artwork a highlight of the book or just a distraction? Were the non-fiction parts too dense and picture-less? I already know that the lack of index was bad and intend to fix that, and the section dividers were ugly and uninspired (they had to be changed at the last moment because I found out they wouldn't be full bleed at the last second [after the proofs!], and by that point I'd been trying to print the book for 6 bloody months and was ready to pitch the whole project out the window...).
I'm about to power into the next one, because Ellen Doesn't Give Up, and I'd like to learn from any mistakes I made and do this one better.
Even if you didn't purchase it, knowing why is valuable (I'll bet dollars to dishes it's because of the price...), and knowing what you WOULD look for, and how much you WOULD buy it for is worth a lot to me. Email if you'd prefer!
Honestly, it was a pretty bad year for publications for me - the last two coloring books flopped, to my surprise, making Ursula's calendar possibly NSFW was a TERRIBLE idea and I'm going to lose a lot of money on it, and when you weigh that against the gawdawful time I had with Avalon and Comixpress, it's really making me think again about that whole aspect of EMG. I'm not down yet, but boy, I'm getting tired of the taste of dirt...
Also, if you've read and/or enjoyed the last issue of EMG-Zine, please let me know! It'd be great to get some feedback on the changes we made for 2008!
Now, I'm going to go watch Stardust with Jen and then go to bed...