Newbie micro-publisher in search of guidance
May 9, 2017 7:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the process of leveling up my self-publishing aspirations. What do micro-publishers do to make their titles available in the wider marketplace?

I'm in the process of leveling up my self-publishing aspirations. I self-published a graphic novel a few years ago and sold it directly at conventions. Now I'm getting my next one ready to publish and I've decided to go `*•.¸¸.•*´$$ legit $$`*•.¸¸.•*´with ISBNs and bar codes and the whole works.

- the project is fully funded (no Kickstarters necessary).
- I bought my ISBNs.
- I have a barcode.
- The book is essentially print-ready.
- I'm narrowing down my printing options to a few bids.
- I know at least some of the books are going to be sold direct at comics conventions.

My question at this point is, what are the best practices for micro-publishers in 2017 for selling to the wider market? Amazon? Something better/less evil? There are lots of nice small indie stores in my area, is there a gatekeeper for small publishers to get their titles into the indie-sphere?

Advice specific to graphic novel/comic books is particularly helpful to me, but general publishing advice is welcome also.
posted by overeducated_alligator to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A friend of mine set up a small publishing company to sell her own books and the books of a friend or two. Among the strategies that I've seen traces of are:

* careful analysis of Amazon's programs and policies.
* Posting on Facebook
* Attending and participating in literary and theatrical events that can be reported on/linked to on FB.
* the website I linked to.
posted by SemiSalt at 8:52 AM on May 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've been using Amazon Fulfilment to send out books from my last Kickstarter, with an eye to eventually having the books on Amazon's stores, and kept in their warehouse so I no longer have to worry about shipping stuff.

It's been a nightmare; they've been putting my oversized softcover books into plain bubble mailers. Which means they get beat up in transit. I spent a month going round and round with customer support with them insisting I just had to turn on a thing called "Amazon Preps", which I did, then sent a test book to myself, which came in another bubble mailer. I ended up with three test books in bubble mailers. They finally said "it's not prep, it's packaging" and that the only way to change the packaging is for enough people to return books for being damaged in shipping, and *maybe* Amazon will change how books are packaged if it reaches some unspecified threshold of damage. I could not escalate this case to someone with the power to change this based on my own reports of damage.

On a tip from an acquaintance who used to work at Amazon, I emailed Jeff Bezos, which is apparently the secret way to get to the Real Customer Support who can actually *do* things instead of cutting and pasting from a script in a language they clearly don't speak natively. I got email from them this weekend that actually asked things like "what kind of package would you like to see this in" instead of apologizing for not being able to change anything or put me in contact with someone who can.

I cannot recommend this route. I had an in with Topatoco's fulfilment arm and really wish I'd done that instead.

As to getting into the indie stores, usually it's mostly just a matter of hauling books out to every shop in range. Here in Seattle someone has recently started a service to do this for you; I've been talking with them and will be trying them out as soon as I get all this Amazon nonsense sorted out. There may be similar efforts in your area. And if her plans work out then eventually the place I linked to will be going national.

Oh yeah doing a 5-book Retailer Pack as a Kickstarter tier helped too, I'll be sending books to a few shops around the country because of that.
posted by egypturnash at 10:27 AM on May 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A local cooperative copy shop in my area, Collective Copies, also runs Levellers Press and has assisted self-publishing: Off the Common Books. I haven't used those services, but the local indie bookstores and local libraries often have their books. I have read & flipped through many of their publications and the quality is good.

Things you may already know as a comic creator:
Many indie comic stores will sell local & self-published comics; this list from Small Press Expo is a good starting point
Small Press Expo is a nonprofit that supports independent comic artists and publishers and they have an annual comic festival

Book Awards: submit your book if you qualify. For example, the Massachusetts Book Award accepts submissions from "[a]ny individual, organization, or company" and "[s]elf-published and e-original books are eligible."
posted by carrioncomfort at 10:49 AM on May 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

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