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Thread: Comics Cultures, Part 5: Commerciality

  1. drgerb Guest

    But what's the question that challenges the creator to determine whether they've got a project like that?
    Is it unique? Has it already been done (that you're aware)? What separates it from the other thousands of comics on the shelves?

    The only thing I can think of is on those same lines. Are you doing something big that hasn't been done / thought of yet? Or are you just copying what's already working? Sometimes to reap the biggest benefits, you've got to take a chance on something that hasn't been done yet. Reminds me of a quote from da Vinci:

    'Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.'



  2. arseneau77 Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    But what's the question that challenges the creator to determine whether they've got a project like that?
    Does this concept/project fill a perceived void in the current marketplace?



  3. LeeNordling Guest

    I think Glenn started on the right track, but we need to add a question that builds on the previous ones, one that allows for the necessary complication of delineating why it's special.

    BTW, for those of you who write the proposals, being able to explain how your book fits REALISTICALLY into the marketplace is a real advantage...as long as you're using real, related facts as the basis for your comparison and contrast.

    I changed use of the word "story" to "book," because the former presumes fiction, and one of those successful examples I gave is a nonfiction sequential art book.

    NOTE: It's interesting that nobody questioned the use of the term "story." Each of you should ask yourself why you let this pass; I think the answer is, though, that you were considering your own "fiction" sandbox, rather than the greater "all publishing categories" sandbox.

    I juggled the order, mostly because editors who want an assessment are FIRST going to want to know what's out there, that's been successful, that they should compare it to.

    Then they're going to want to know what makes it stand out.

    And I absorbed the "why should they care" into a question, one that takes the answers to the previous questions into account.

    I like Glenn's question: "Does this concept/project fill a perceived void in the current marketplace?", though I'd rephrase it as: "Does this book fill a perceived NEED in the marketplace?" The term "perceived need" is a pretty standard marketing term, "current" is implicit in the present tense, and "book" is consistent with our other terms for this project, though "project" would replace "book" nicely throughout.

    I think this question might often be redundant, but it takes into account something that no other question addresses: current market trends. There's too much manga out there, so even if my new manga idea is terrific, if sales are cooling off and the top two thirds of the books on the shelf in this category are struggling for sales and shelf space, then THIS is the only question that really addresses it.

    Nice addition, Glenn.

    And I added a new last question, one that every creator MUST address, and do anything necessary to make certain the answer is "yes."

    Here is a suggested revision to the list:

    1. What makes this book similar to what's already out there?

    2. What makes this book different from what's already out there?

    3. How does the combination of market similarities and differences translate into enough readers caring more about this book than another? (Yep, this is a complicated way of asking "what makes it special?" but it draws on market realities as the foundation of an assessment.)

    4. Does this book fill a perceived need in the marketplace?

    5. Does the quality of the work fulfill the promise of this book?

    ***

    Does anybody believe or not believe that this list covers our bases?

    If not, what's missing or wrong?

    --Lee
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 03:26 PM.



  4. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by drgerb View Post
    Is it unique? Has it already been done (that you're aware)? What separates it from the other thousands of comics on the shelves?

    The only thing I can think of is on those same lines. Are you doing something big that hasn't been done / thought of yet? Or are you just copying what's already working? Sometimes to reap the biggest benefits, you've got to take a chance on something that hasn't been done yet. Reminds me of a quote from da Vinci:

    'Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.'
    I think there's a lot of truth here about why it's important to experiment and challenge ourselves.

    It's a good philosophy for continuing to do stuff, even after stuff doesn't pan out, or continuing after something is a terrific success.

    Moving forward keeps us in the "now."

    But my thoughts are a digression. Back to our list.

    In previous discussions, I addressed the question of "unique," in and of itself, not necessarily being a commercially related attributed.

    --Lee



  5. danialworks Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    I think Glenn started on the right track, but we need to add a question that builds on the previous ones, one that allows for the necessary complication of delineating why it's special.

    BTW, for those of you who write the proposals, being able to explain how your book fits REALISTICALLY into the marketplace is a real advantage...as long as you're using real, related facts as the basis for your comparison and contrast.

    I changed use of the word "story" to "book," because the former presumes fiction, and one of those successful examples I gave is a nonfiction sequential art book.

    NOTE: It's interesting that nobody questioned the use of the term "story." Each of you should ask yourself why you let this pass; I think the answer is, though, that you were considering your own "fiction" sandbox, rather than the greater "all publishing categories" sandbox.

    I juggled the order, mostly because editors who want an assessment are FIRST going to want to know what's out there, that's been successful, that they should compare it to.

    Then they're going to want to know what makes it stand out.

    And I absorbed the "why should they care" into a question, one that takes the answers to the previous questions into account.

    I like Glenn's question: "Does this concept/project fill a perceived void in the current marketplace?", though I'd rephrase it as: "Does this book fill a perceived NEED in the marketplace?" The term "perceived need" is a pretty standard marketing term, "current" is implicit in the present tense, and "book" is consistent with our other terms for this project, though "project" would replace "book" nicely throughout.

    I think this question might often be redundant, but it takes into account something that no other question addresses: current market trends. There's too much manga out there, so even if my new manga idea is terrific, if sales are cooling off and the top two thirds of the books on the shelf in this category are struggling for sales and shelf space, then THIS is the only question that really addresses it.

    Nice addition, Glenn.

    And I added a new last question, one that every creator MUST address, and do anything necessary to make certain the answer is "yes."

    Here is a suggested revision to the list:

    1. What makes this book similar to what's already out there?

    2. What makes this book different from what's already out there?

    3. How does the combination of market similarities and differences translate into enough readers caring more about this book than another? (Yep, this is a complicated way of asking "what makes it special?" but it draws on market realities as the foundation of an assessment.)

    4. Does this book fill a perceived need in the marketplace?

    5. Does the quality of the work fulfill the promise of this book?

    ***

    Does anybody believe or not believe that this list covers our bases?

    If not, what's missing or wrong?

    --Lee
    Unfortunatly, quality and promise don't always equal commercial. So does 5 belong on this list?

    Filling a need in the marketplace is great, but since it's only a percieved need, then 'Does this book CREATE and need in the marketpalce' becomes a seperate question.



  6. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by danialworks View Post
    Unfortunatly, quality and promise don't always equal commercial. So does 5 belong on this list?

    Filling a need in the marketplace is great, but since it's only a percieved need, then 'Does this book CREATE and need in the marketpalce' becomes a seperate question.
    Notice my phrasing about quality.

    I didn't specify that it be good or high.

    I just questioned whether the level of execution/quality delivered on the promise of the concept.

    Most people don't laud Dan Brown as a "good" writer, but his execution was good enough to make Da Vinci Code come to life.

    If he was a worse writer, the book wouldn't have come to life, might not have been published, and certainly wouldn't have become the hit it is.

    As Stephen King rightly notes, at the end of the day, it's the writing that counts, and, for the discussion of sequential art, I believe we DO need, for each project, to set the bar for execution.

    "Any three-year old could draw it" is a metaphor, not a reality, I believe there needs to be some adjustable measuring stick.

    If you have another to suggest, I'd love to read it.

    Re. "perceived needs," yep, creating them and filling them are different. I think filling them means that the editor/publisher recognizes HOW a book can be sold. I think creating them is more in the realm of Harry Potter, where there wasn't a perceived need...but it actually created one.

    I think creating them is good for the creator and project--I subscribe to this with a lot of my own work--but until it proves itself, it's too much of a gamble to help in the "commercial" perception of a project.

    --Lee
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 05:58 PM.



  7. danialworks Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    Notice my phrasing about quality.

    Most people don't laud Dan Brown as a "good" writer, but his execution was good enough to make Da Vinci Code come to life.

    If he was a worse writer, the book wouldn't have come to life, might not have been published, and certainly wouldn't have become the hit it is.

    As Stephen King rightly notes, at the end of the day, it's the writing that counts, and, for the discussion of sequential art, I believe we DO need, for each project, to set the bar for execution.

    "Any three-year old could draw it" is a metaphor, not a reality, I believe there needs to be some adjustable measuring stick.

    If you have another to suggest, I'd love to read it.

    --Lee
    Angels and Demons is the better book. But Da Vinci Code is the more COMMERCIAL book. It takes the same kind of material, and entertains a WIDER audience after catching their attention with better hooks. A less over the top, more accessable book.

    So something commercial both CATCHES attention, and then KEEPS it.

    Is this book accessable to the reader?

    Does this book offer future promise to publisher and reader alike?

    Btw, I did read Stephen King's On Writing in its entirity.

    You want the script to be as good, and as readable, in and of itself, as the final sequential art.

    That's more than a metaphor.



  8. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by danialworks View Post
    Angels and Demons is the better book. But Da Vinci Code is the more COMMERCIAL book. It takes the same kind of material, and entertains a WIDER audience after catching their attention with better hooks. A less over the top, more accessable book.

    So something commercial both CATCHES attention, and then KEEPS it.

    Is this book accessable to the reader?

    Does this book offer future promise to publisher and reader alike?

    Btw, I did read Stephen King's On Writing in its entirity.

    You want the script to be as good, and as readable, in and of itself, as the final sequential art.

    That's more than a metaphor.
    So that we keep this moving forwards, not backwards or sideways, let's keep working with the set of questions, and if you have suggested revisions, additions, or deletions, please put them together into a comprehensive list...just so we can examine them as a whole.

    Specifically to the two new questions:

    Is this book accessable to the reader?

    Does this book offer future promise to publisher and reader alike?

    ***

    Danial, I don't know where you imagine these new questions doing a similar or different job in the line up...or why.

    And "why?" becomes the more important question.

    "Accessible to the reader" seems to be covered by 1-5, but they break down the component reasons.

    Just my thoughts, and I look forward to your thoughts on a revised or new list.

    --Lee
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 02:08 PM.



  9. LeeNordling Guest

    Let's bring this forward so we don't lose focus or momentum.

    Danial offered some constructive thoughts; it's an unfinished conversation...but until we discover whether that changes our list, let's stick with the list we have.

    Here is my suggested revision to the list:

    1. What makes this book similar to what's already out there?

    2. What makes this book different from what's already out there?

    3. How does the combination of market similarities and differences translate into enough readers caring more about this book than another? (Yep, this is a complicated way of asking "what makes it special?" but it draws on market realities as the foundation of an assessment.)

    4. Does this book fill a perceived need in the marketplace?

    5. Does the quality of the work fulfill the promise of this book?

    ***

    Does anybody believe or not believe that this list covers our bases?

    Do positive answers to these questions, if true, mean a book will be perceived by an editor or publisher as commercial?

    If not, what's missing or wrong?

    Let's test them.

    What if the concept and script is brilliant, but the art sucks? #5 is the one that identifies the problem.

    What if the concept and script are so-so, but the art is brilliant? Well, in the direct market, it might be commercial if "so-so concept and script don't suck," but if the concept and script do suck, then #5 probably dooms the the commerciality of this one, too.

    What if this is the story about a boy wizard going to an American public school? While numbers 1, 2, and 3 might support it, #4 dooms as the last in a long line of Harry Potter clones, of which, the market may have tired.

    Have you got scenarios, like mine, that test our five questions?

    Let's see.

    And let's get back to work.

    --Lee

    PS. Now is the time you can test your project's prospective chances, and make sure you identify the project's target market, age group, etc.
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 04:04 PM.



  10. arseneau77 Guest

    How about, as an addendum/sub-section of #4:

    Does the market the book fits into represent a large enough share of the overall market to make it financially worthwhile for the publisher to put out?

    In other words, the greatest, most innovative book on baking dog biscuits ever put before a publisher's eyes might dominate the 'baking dog biscuits' market, but if that market represents only 0.01% of the overall market, then is it worth the publisher's effort?

    Maybe, maybe not. (I suspect my dog biscuit example might be a bad one as I suspect anything pet-related has a significant market, but you get my point).

    What my question is attempting to get to the heart of is: Will my project be a big fish in a small pond or a small (or decent-sized) fish in the ocean?



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