In today’s economy, we are seeing more and more companies doing promotion for sales, deals, anything they can think of to get people into their stores or to buy from them online. How does this affect us all as artists?
For the month of September (2013), Ink and Feathers Comics is running a promo for all our publications through Amazon.com. Look for any of our titles and you can see 90% of our graphic novels/books are priced at $0.99. We are saluting our past fans as well as trying to hook new fans to our work in celebration of starting up a fan page. Plus if its not obvious, we are finally digitizing our work. But, is the reduction in the price of our books devaluing their worth?
If you were to do a search online for comic, comic books, graphic novels, pulp, we guarantee that your search engine will give you millions of listings. How does one weed through everything to find something that is truly worth their time and energy? It’s not possible. Much like the observation that we made in a previous post about mainstream comic book conventions (see our blog about comic book conventions) , the number of options at their fingertips overwhelms fans. There is just too much stuff! Is the explosion of POD (Print On Demand) and Ebook publications killing art? We are all fighting it out in our little corners to get a piece of the pie whether it be for financial gain, feedback on work, or some kind of recognition from someone. So, does lowering our price to compete seem like a good idea? In our opinion, yes and no. Let’s examine the pros and cons on how we view things as they are mid 2013.
Low Prices draw attention.
Lowering your price or doing a free promo day(s) allows readers to choose to take a chance on your work, as it seems affordable. Just recently we did a free promo that allowed readers to download our first two ebook conversions, The Teddy Bear Conspiracies and Superlative Tales. As both books are tied to each other via a continuing storyline, our hope is that people will actually read the book(s) and give us feedback helping us determine whether or not we should truly continuing marketing and making work or hang up our hats. The great thing about having a publication available for download is that fact that now our work can be accessed by the ENTIRE world. Well, at least to those people that shop online. Before, we have only been able to do self-promotion within our own state. Now, we have the entire world at our fingertips.
Our books can now be downloaded by folks in Europe, Japan, Mexico, ect and it’s translated. Pretty cool! Anyone can find it and make a decision on whether to take a chance and buy our books. This does include our paperback versions as well. Marketing that was once limited to a population of 12,869,257 people is now global (Potentially in the billions).
Self publishing is easier to do than it was 10 or even 20 years ago.
When we started publishing, ebooks were nowhere near the efficiency or availability that they are today. If you wanted to self publish, most publishing houses required a minimum print run of 3,000 copies. If you don’t have the reach or money to afford a publicist, you are on your own with everything. Marketing is a lot of work. It requires time, energy, and a lot of patience. In the early nineties, scanners and computers were mostly limited to business and personal computers were still fairly unaffordable to most middle class families. It’s not like today where most everyone can write from a personal laptop or even a mobile phone.
Fans make the decision as to what is good or bad rather than some high and mighty editor who believes he or she is king of their domain. Readers decide what they like if they have access to it.
Downloading a free book is too easy.
People tend to see the word “FREE” or $0.99-$1.00, fizzle out from the overload of adrenaline (I GOT TO HAVE IT!), and start downloading everything they see. There is no guarantee that these people will even get to reading what they have just downloaded as the temptation of getting things free or cheaper than usual can become overwhelming. (We ourselves have fallen into this trap and now have over a dozens novels that may take months for us to eventually get around to reading.)
Anyone can do it with the right software
Due to the advances in technology and the availability of desktop publishing programs, anyone, without proper training and editing, can pop out books in a moments notice. Since everyone can do it, there is now an over saturation of literature out there. Some of it good and would never have been seen by the general public due to being turned down by a publishing house that didn’t want to take a risk. However, just because you THINK you can write a book or draw a story or whatever, doesn’t exactly mean you are good at it. There are people who spend four years or more of their life studying and refining their craft in a university setting. Most tend to get a little pissed that some yahoo from the sticks pops out a book and is an instant success. How would you feel spending time and energy on something you went to school for only to be out shadowed by someone who has less training or little respect for the craft they have just now contributed to? We personally believe that it takes skill and training to use these tools properly resulting in professional publications. We personally get irked when we see or are asked by clients to make “stick figures” for their ad work or publications.
Peer Grading again
Since anyone and everyone can now do what a big named publishing house could only do 10-20 years ago, we are now saturated with art in all forms. Instead of an editor deciding what is good or bad, it is left up to the public. And there are haters out there. People for whatever reason due to jealousy or nothing else to do like to troll the Internet and try to degrade anything or everything they see. With the advent of being connected all the time through ones computer or cell phone, any form of art is now subject to immediate critique.
You are one in millions upon billions of people doing the same EXACT thing.
We are now all doing the same thing: creating and pouring our hearts in our work and wanting to share it with the world. The competition is staggering.
So the question is what’s good and what’s bad? We are now part of a society that is pouring out information, technology, and art at an alarming rate that it’s too over whelming for people to fathom and process. We are losing our identities as humans by limiting our interactions though our devices. Instead of remembering the pleasantries of “Thank You”, “Please”, and Respect, we are devaluing our society by not stopping and smelling the roses. We are all whipping material out and bombarding each other with our work in hopes of getting noticed. Is it working? We have no idea. Quantity is taking precedence of the quality. We are losing the value of art by overwhelming our readers/viewers. Is it a good thing? Not from our view.
We, here at IF Comics, try to value our work by doing our best. We are, by far, not perfect. However, we try to tell good, fun stories that we hope will entertain our readers. We are never going to make millions of dollars as we doing this for fun. But, we value the importance of the time and effort anyone and everyone who creates art in any form. If done correctly, your work will shine. Don’t devalue it by churning it out and bombarding the public. Take your time, do the best job, you can and people will see its value. Be respectful of others and their time and effort. We should all have a fair chance to be noticed. It’s still a big world no matter how small the digital revolution has made it.
View this additional blog and opinion by Laurie Stevens called What’s a Good Book Worth?