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Success in Comics: Chad Carpenter, Bill Kellogg
The first speakers in the Success in Comics Seminar were also the hosts: Chad Carpenter, creator of Tundra and Bill Kellogg who has sold the strip to over 500 newspapers. Chad first talked about getting into cartooning and how he made the strip a success as regional comic in Alaska and then Bill talked about how he took the strip nationally.Chad:
- Inspired by Mike Peters advice to “draw what you know”
- Drew up 36 strips to showed them to the editor at the Anchorage paper
- Sold the strip to four other papers in Alaska
- Decided to print his first book a year later. Used Garfield’s books as a model
- The first book (3,000) print run sold out in three weeks. Reprinted 10,000 more
- Sold the books at weekend markets, state fairs and Christmas shows. Sold a t-shirt, his book and his calendar
- Was able to make $40-50k on merchandise
- First six books were in black and white. Now all books are full color, printed in Korea.
- Do It Yourself is the way to go for publishing books. Foreign printers allow for greater profit margins.
- Bill shared examples of information packets along with their initial meager one
- Bill advocated anyone going into self-syndication get an FTP site. Most all newspapers pull their comics from FTP servers. Not having one will hurt sales efforts
- There’s a fine line between being persistent and annoying. Be persistent.
- Try to meet editors personally. Too easy to say no over the phone
- Sales cycles are long. Can take 1-2 years before a newspaper will pick you up because they first have to drop another beloved strip
- Modify your pitch depending on paper. Norther papers are pitched a “Tundra is a northern strip” while southern papers are pitched, “it’s an outdoor and nature strip”
- When pitching to editors, dress like it was an interview.
- Self syndication killers: spelling errors and regional references
- Social media is a way to builds fans. Fans buys your merchandise
- Asked about how declining circulation will affect their business model: Newspapers will be around for a while, but you have think of them as only one of many revenue streams – not the only one
Visit Chad’s Facebook