The State of the Industry
I talked to someone interested into reading prose books and who was thinking of taking up writing a while ago, and whereas his interest was in craft, mine now lies more in the realm of business. "How do you keep writing until you have a whole story?" he asked, which is a legitimate question, but I was like, "Oh, I just keep writing and revising until I have one, and oh my god did you know that book sales were down 13% in November?! Advances are being cut! Staff is being cut! A woman who was an editor for one company for twenty-five years was laid off! That is like my worst nightmare! How can I find a publisher for my novel in an economy like this? What is going to mean for other new writers? What is it going to mean for literature? OHMYGOD, MY DREAMS, THEY ARE DYING."
My point is that if you value the product, you might want to understand the state of the industry. So if you value independent comics and graphic novels, you might want to know that things are not going well in the comics industry right now. There's only so long those of us working in the industry can put up a chipper front before the smiles become shaky and unnatural. Things are bad, folks, just like they're bad all over the country in all industries, and we're battening down to weather through it.
If you want to know more, I suggest you read this article by my boss, SLG's President Dan Vado at The Comics Reporter. It's about the new ordering benchmarks implemented by Diamond Comics, the biggest (err, only) distributor of comics to comic book stores. The benchmark has been raised from $1500 to $2500, which means we have to sell more comics if Diamond is going to list and fulfill orders for them. It puts all smaller publishers in a difficult position, and probably means the end of independent serialized comics. Unfortunately, the book market isn't doing very well either, with Borders seemingly constantly on the brink of bankruptcy and bookstore sales indeed down 13% in November (compared to 10% for all retail).
So I want you to know that each and every person who reads our comics and graphic novels really does make a difference to us, and I'm glad you're out there.