What am I doing wrong?

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Steve LeCouilliard
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What am I doing wrong?

Post by Steve LeCouilliard » Mon Jun 09, 2008 3:30 pm

Hi everybody,

Many of you probably know me as the artist/writer behind Much the Miller's Son.http://www.flightcomics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10189

I just received yet another rejection letter today, this time from Top Shelf Comix. This got me thinking, not for the first time, how am I gonna find a publisher?

I've been doing the webcomic for a little over a year now, which isn't exactly a lot of time, I'll admit, but the feedback has always been very positive. I seem to do very well at conventions, and I've received wonderful compliments from a number of professional cartoonists whom I respect a great deal.

Actually, it seems like the the only group of people who don't like my comic are publishers. So what am I doing wrong? Do any of you professional, published cartoonists have any insight? Can you give me some tips? Maybe there are publishers you can recommend who might be interested.

I'd really appreciate some constructive criticism. Thanks guys.

Steve LeCouilliard
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jdalton
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Post by jdalton » Mon Jun 09, 2008 7:20 pm

How about trying smaller publishers? Folks like Top Shelf can have their pick of the comics out there, so the competition to get picked up by them is probably pretty tough. I don't know the full roster of smaller publishers, or whether they would be interested in your stuff particularly, but places like Adhouse or Sparkplug seem to print a lot of first-time comickers. At some point I might just go through all the minicomics I've accumulated from various conventions and look up the publishers (when they have one) on the internet, because there's a bunch I've never heard of otherwise or only have one book from.
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dark77778
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Post by dark77778 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:04 pm

Yeah, I mean, I've never set out to be published because I don't think my stuff is good enough yet, but from what I've been hearing from everyone who has been published is that rejection letters are close enough in number than the death counts of people in poverty [every five seconds a starving artist receives a rejection letter...then dies...inside]. So don't get too down about it.

I don't know what other publisher's you've tried, but seriously yeah, your art and comic style is good, but if you've been trying all the big names, good luck unless you've got connections...and even then. Shop around and don't be discriminatory, and look for publishers that are discriminatory because they're apparently out there like: "We only publish first time publishing comedic fantasy." I read that in a book somewhere two years ago I think.

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Steve LeCouilliard
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Post by Steve LeCouilliard » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:20 pm

Thanks for the advice guys. That's a good idea John. I'll see what I can find among the various minicomics I've picked up. Also I'll hit the conventions as much as possible in the next few years.

Thanks again,

Steve
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JGrubber
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Post by JGrubber » Mon Jun 09, 2008 8:32 pm

Steve,

I think a part of it might be that the comic is too smart. Its very well put together, but the topic matter requires a certain amount of intelligence to appreciate/get/understand. Perhaps the suits at the publishers are only looking for manga-styled cash cows.

Have you tried European publishers? They are after all the people who liked Asterix enough to publish it...

What about a newspaper? Some of the content might need editing, but a British paper might like it, even for online editions. If you write content or extras that are education-themed, you might be able to approach the education market- a teaching resource really.

Exposure is really the key thing, it seems. Get people talking about it- we already know how great it is, but there are people out there who don't.

If you are going the self-publishing route, just keep pounding the pavement in local stores/online stores etc. It may take quite a while, but in that time, your skills are still developing...

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Post by LetsMeetUpInParadise240 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:26 am

I definitely agree with trying your hand at a newspaper. I could see something like this appearing in print in the comic section. Smaller publishers as well as European ones might be a better idea too. I guess the question you have to ask yourself is, what kind of readership are you aiming your cartoon at and what kind of publisher is out there that would understand your aims well enough to be willing to put your stuff to print?

And I really don't think it's a matter of publishers not liking your work. Your work is great. But the way I see it, publishers like Top Shelf, Oni, and Drawn and Quarterly have a certain kind of readership in mind when they choose certain projects. Top Shelf leans more towards contemporary slice of life types of stories, some that have a cartoony flavor (ex. James Kolchalka). Drawn and Quarterly deals with more darker themed stories. As for Image and Oni, I'd say they're more adventurous in exploring all genres, but they're kind of restrained in publishing non-conventional type comics compared to TS and D&Q.

So don't be discouraged, dude. I think you're getting some good advice here. Just keep working on your webcomic, hit the conventions, get as much exposure as you can and keep submitting your stuff. I'm sure someone's going to publish your stuff eventually.
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Post by William Ward » Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:13 am

The story does definately have a newspaper (or webcomic) feel to me as well. My first thought when I saw it was that it reminded me a lot of what you use to find printed in Dragon Magazine each month.

What LetsMeetUpInParadise240 says about different publishers seems right on the mark to me, it may be less about quality and more about audience and publisher focus. This can make it a harder sell, but that does not mean it is not worth doing. Copper certainly has a newspaper feel to it with its one page stories, but it also has an audience.

Might be worth trying newspapers or magazines (Dragon Magazine may or may not fit anymore, have not read it in ages) that could publish the story in pieces. Self-publishing some more and gaining an audience that way would be worth while as well. Xeric Grant might be something to try as well if you have not considered it.

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Post by Kazu » Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:20 am

These are some good reply posts, guys.

Steve, like the guys here mentioned, you ought to try finding a publisher with a like-minded vision. Your comics are very good, and I can see it really resonating among a group of readers that enjoy comics like Asterix (or our friend Johane's favorite, Rat-Man), so if you can find a publication that caters to that group of readers, I think you'll find a good fit. You'll be much happier working with them in the long run and they'll be glad to publish your work. As far as publishers in the US, newspaper syndicates are probably your best bet. Even if they don't immediately pick up the strip, I imagine they will see your potential and possibly develop another property with you.
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Steve LeCouilliard
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Post by Steve LeCouilliard » Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:10 am

Thanks for the advice guys!

Although I started this comic with the idea of imitating the great old newspaper strips like Thimble Theatre it never really occurred to me to try pitching the strip to newspapers. I guess ever since Bill Watterson quit and Charles Schulz died, I figured the newspaper strip was a dead medium. Maybe I'm wrong though. Who knows? Maybe some underground papers would be into publishing Much or something like it.

I have approached one European publisher, but I'm handicapped by the fact that I don't speak French. Ideally, I would like to be part of the Belgian comics scene, or failing that, do the same type of comics here in North America. To that end, perhaps self-publishing is the best way to get my work out there. At least for now.

Thanks again for the advice and encouragement!
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jdalton
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Post by jdalton » Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:19 pm

Well, you know, Cloudscape does have a few Francophones hanging around if that would help. :wink:

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dark77778
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Post by dark77778 » Sun Jun 15, 2008 7:40 pm

Steve LeCouilliard wrote:I guess ever since Bill Watterson quit and Charles Schulz died, I figured the newspaper strip was a dead medium.
:cry: Don't remind me...at least there's still "Garfield minus Garfield" right?

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mestioko
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Post by mestioko » Fri Jun 20, 2008 4:12 pm

Steve, the work is outstanding. I totally agree with everyone else: it seems more probable an audience/outlet issue.

Good luck!

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Post by Miha » Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:46 am

Steve,

I had a look at your comic and it looks really nice indeed. In fact, it looks more entertaining than most of the new published commercial stuff out there at the shops.

May I offer some advice as someone who tried to court publishers for years: If you don't get published, you are doing nothing wrong. Almost vice versa.
It has been my observation that the decision on what gets published has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the comic.

I have too had great feedback from publishers and people, yet I never got anything. It's exactly the same in europe. French publishers also either want surefire cashcows from well recognized authors, or then they are small ones who want so artsy stuff that they will not touch any 'light' entertainment, no matter how delightful or well drawn it (such as Miller's son) is.

If you go for newspaper, you are bound to the format and it's restrictions. I would advice against going for any artistic compromises early in your career. Better make as crazy stuff as you can while you are still calling the shots. Internet is THE best way for doing recognition.

Once your library is big enough, I recommend publishing yourself. There are number of books and articles that help with this. I recommend 'How to make webcomics' for many good tips with self-publishing.

I can also recommend trying wowio once it goes online this July (this time globally), IF they are able to sort their merger with platinum studios with no big changes.

It is very much easier to get a publishing deal in Wowio through one of their publishers, I got one through Dakuwaka productions, and they are looking for new artists continuosly. I can PM you Mike's email if you wish to speak with him.

Your stuff reminded me of Hunt Emerson and Sergio Aragones. That's no small compliment. Keep it up!

Miha

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Post by JGrubber » Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:52 pm

Hi steve,

I was just wondering with comic-con and other stuff going on, have you tried:

- creating an ash-can /free preview comic to give out at conventions or stores? it could also be a one-shot download as a pdf on your site. Maybe creating a special standalone issue/story that is only a few pages long would build your exposure.

- don't get me wrong, i love 'Much' its technique etc. is great.

- is there a 'comic stores in canada/NW USA list anywhere? Maybe the investment in phone calls etc. and free preview comics would translate into buzz and sales. A 'Free Comic book day' issue perhaps. Maybe split the costs with some other artists looking for exposure.

A businessy friend of mine suggested that if all else fails, create your own publishing company- most of the grunt work is done by the printer anyway. Once you area corporate entity of your own, you have a little more weight behind your knocks on the door and it looks good on the business card. Really, the investment isn't that great- a website, name registration etc. plus revcanada lets you run at a loss for several years, and if you form a llc (limited liability corp) you and your family are safe from suing/financial losses.


Anyway, keep up the awesome work,

john

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