When you hear that The Walking Dead sold 300,000 copies, that does not mean how many customers came into a store and bought that comic. That number is how many copies the comic stores ordered. A store may order 30 copies of a book, but whether they sell 10 or 30, the industry stats count 30 copies. The problem is that if stores order 30 and only sell 10, they normally will cut their order down quite a bit for next month.
As a former retailer, I know that our ordering process was to count how many pre-orders we received from customers and then add 3 to 5 copies. This is quite common among the small to medium-sized comic shops around the country.
This is also why we have been hearing a lot about titles like Saga being instant sell outs. At my store, we had 20 people pre-order Saga #1, and we ordered 30. We considered this a rather risky order for an unknown book by a highly regarded creator. We had no way of knowing that 50 people would show up on release day wanting a copy. Sadly, this was the case nationwide.
The other problem is that some books that are quite good, but are low profile books, often get under-ordered because consumers are not aware of them. These under-ordered books often see cancellation well before they have had proper time to find their audience.
So, what is a fan to do? Is this really your problem? Should you have to do more work to support an industry process that is somewhat flawed and archaic? The answers to those questions are difficult and may be beyond my reach, but I have decided that, instead of bemoaning an industry process that I can't control, I will instead create something fun out of the problem.
I offer you my solution:
The Previews Party! A regular blog exploring Previews Magazine, the comic book industry's monthly solicitations magazine. This blog will have three primary goals:
- To highlight new titles, interesting creative teams, and great “jumping-on” points for new readers.
- To inform the average consumer on the pre-ordering process and how to communicate your needs and desires to your local store.
- To create a community around comics that discusses upcoming books in a positive light and focuses on the joy and love that we all share for comic books.
I hope that you will join me on this journey as I delve into the massive tome of Previews each month and discover the exciting, new creations that the comics industry will be delivering to us.