"I said GOR-GON--not GOR-HAM!!"
So what about this "Gorgon Magazine"? How the heck can we make this happen??
All that follows is my initial attempt to grope our way toward some sort of viable business model given the resources available at this time. Just trying to pull it all into focus. Please post comments/reactions/corrections with the usual sense of TAG decorum....
I'm thinking horror with a humorous bent. It can be ugly, it can be macabre, but it should veer away from the gratuitous and the truly grim. Sort of in the E.C. style, with severed limbs and decapitation, but a sense of levity. I'd like to see some whimsy, like in Rick's great Creeple franchise. I'd like to see some mysticism, like in Tom Moon's Cosmic yarns. I'd like to see some dummies, like in Ellis's stuff.
I'm still trying to formulate the exact plan on this...My first though is 64 pages of high-quality stuff (probably end up fewer). We'll do it in magazine format (which will be a little larger than a comic--probably 8.5" x 11"); saddle-stitch (like most magazines and comics), B&W interior, color cover front/back. Stories of anything from 1 to 20 pages (or more if you got it). We can get a thousand or so copies printed for around $3,000 bucks (on PrintNinja, $2,267.62 to print 'em, $571.13 to ship 'em to us from China for a total of $2,838.75, all approximate numbers).
I will front the money for the printing and shipping costs.
But how will we make money on this?
A couple ways: first, after printing, each artist will get 50 copies of the mag (a random number--I'm open to suggestions, obviously--this is all "spit-ballin'"). You can hawk these at Cons and local fairs, sell 'em via the internets, unload 'em on unsuspecting local comics retailers, and pocket all the money for yourself......50 copies of the mag will cost $140 from the printer ($2.80 a copy if we order 1,000 copies total). These 50 copies should wholesale for something like $5 bucks--that's $5.00 from the retailer to you, (who will then mark up our gorgeous mag to $10--which is a pretty tall price for this kinda merch, but not CRAZY, don't you think? Love it if we could get the retail price down to about $8...just not sure how yet). Although I will bet that in reality, most of us will be selling these in person to friends and Con goers, and charging at least $10 per copy, therefore 50 copies could potentially bring each of us something closer to $500...probably less than that, but somewhere between $250 and $500. (...theoretically some enterprising someone could package their books
with free crayon caricatures or such like and sell 'em
for $20, $40 or even $100 each--BE THAT SOMEONE!)
But is that enough to make it worth yr while?
In addition to free copies of the mag, I believe everybody who contributes is entitled to SOME
kind of page rate...but paying something reasonable quickly moves the cost of the
project way beyond my current capacity. I'm trying to keep the total budget for
the project under $4,000, which means after printing/shipping we'd only
have a little over $1,000 to split among the pages (I will of course skip any payment
for my own stuff). How can we split that?
Here's some back-of-the-envelope calculations. Chime in with thoughts, please.
Page counts I'd love to see from people:
Ellis: 8 pages (of course I'd love more from everybody, but this is meant to be realistic :)
Rick: 8 pages
Tom Moon: 6-8 pages...???
Jim "Gore-Beast" Gorham: 6 pages...???
Jeff "Too Damn Good For The TAG Blog I Started" Ranjo: 6-8 pages???
Best case that's 38 pages (others are welcome to contribute, of course--I'm just going with the people I see posting here the most, and who I've already talked to about this).
Right now let's say we have $1,200 left to pay artists for pages. 38 divided by $1,200 equals $31.57 page rate. Paltry. But it's something...please let me know what you guys think, or suggestions you have. 8 pages at $31.57 a page equals $252.56 ....t'ain't much. But add it to the $140 printing costs for 50 copies of the mag...it could be a start?
The third "money-making" channel (and I put that in "air quotes" purposely) should come via actual sales of the book. I have no idea how many of these we can sell. I think we will all do OK selling our own personal allotment of 50--and whether we do or not, whatever money we make selling those copies does not go into the "company" pot--meaning, we don't have to pay out royalties to each other from the sale of our 50--nor does anyone have to pay back against printing/shipping costs.
So, after each artist receives their 50 mags (assuming the 5 of you contribute), and also assuming that I don't take a 50 book pay-out (which I think would just complicate things), there will be 750 books left over...let's call that the "company" inventory.
How do we split royalties on these 750 books...? And then there's the fact that I'd at least like to try and make back my $4,000 investment--at least as much of it as I can. How can we accommodate those two goals?
Looking at the numbers, assuming "the company" (me) is able to sell every single copy of its inventory to wholesalers for the full $5, (and excluding any extra shipping costs--y'know, for fulfilling orders to retailers), that will only bring in $3,750. On an initial investment of $4,000.
Not exactly a money maker.
But "the company" (me) will be able to sell some of this stock at comic cons for the retail price of $10. Since I'm not taking that 50 copies for myself, I will instead be selling out of the company stock of 750....let's say I manage to sell 200 copies this way (a not impossible task, but that would be double my best annual Con sales record so far). That's $2,000, and I would only need to sell 400 of the remaining 550 to reach that break even point of $4,000, (and no, I'm not even gonna start to figure costs like Con table fees, travel, advertising, etc.--this isn't really about making money--at least, not yet--not on our first issue).
So how do royalties fit into this picture?
Obviously we all want royalties. My first instinct is to split everything 50/50. The "company" gets half, the other half gets split among the artists. But does that 50/50 come out of the gross sales--or the profits?
Looking at our costs, I don't know that there will ever be much "profit" on this book.
Even if we sold the entire "company" inventory of 750 books at the full $10 retail price, that only brings in $7,500, which split 50/50 brings the company $3,750, still $250 short of breaking even. That's the best case scenario for taking royalties out of gross sales.
That won't work.
If we wait to break even on the printing cost + artist fees before paying royalties, we'll have to sell more than 50 copies at full retail ($10), and sell out whatever remains of the inventory to pass the break even point [50 copies @ $10 = $500 + (700 copies @ $5 = $3,500) = $4,000]. Realistically, I don't know how long that will take (to sell out). I don't know if we'll ever sell out the entire inventory.
But I do know it will be very fun trying!
Maybe there's a way we can do a reduced royalty scheme up to the break even point...only problem is the break even point is a pretty lofty target in itself, and only gets more so the more we split royalties.
You can see how this becomes a numbers game..."economies of scale" really come into play (we print twice as many books, our per unit cost drops by half, we can make more profit from each unit (still selling to retailers at $5, but with a cost of $1.25 or so....etc., etc.).).
It's enough to make you think maybe this is a bad idea.
BUT--this could be the project we need to get our own publishing imprint going. I know that everyone would like to be working for Marvel making $200 a page plus royalties....this sure ain't that. HOWEVER, if we put together a quality product (and hopefully keep making new issues--twice a year???), this might be a big step toward getting us there (or somewhere closer...).
Tell me how this all sounds to you--please!
p.s. of course all copyright, ownership, movie rights, etc. will remain with the artist for his/her individual story/stories.