Dirchansky: OMG figarizzle/kim and I commissioned these fabulous LOVE LOVE HILL portraits from Al and Ren , who were conveniently sitting across from our table at Otakuthon this past weekend! They are super adorable and talented, and we (Kim and I) leered at them allllllllllllll weekkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk—————————- belugachop/koyar wasn’t in attendance so we asked if they could draw her in for ussss hghHGNHHGGHh…!!!
Kim: We told them it was OK to draw us ugly (just to see what would happen, hahaha) but these drawings turned out so cute and amazzzinnnggg. We appreciate the accurate depiction of our fishlips pose we did on their camera. The glasses colours even match, and we purposefully were wearing striped shirts that day! They had some amazing clay charms on their table also and we touched all of them. Thanks for bearing with us all weekend, guys.
Lots of TL;DR and photos under the cut!
Koyar: I’m glad you like our contents!
How do we decide how many books to make and bring, I’d say it came from experience. We have been burnt from printing too many books, partly our own fault from over-estimation, as well as printing more books to bring per unit cost down. As soon as we have switched over to manually printing our own books, it became more flexible in terms of small runs. The maximum I am capable of printing and binding at once is 50 copies. I can print more, but it’s exhausting. It is the number I start off with nowadays, because I can easily print more if I run out, and if I don’t, they’ll last for a while and it is not a huge investment or space issue like 500 copies. The magical number 50 probably varies for everyone else.
On how many to bring to a convention, it would depend on the convention itself. I usually bring my entire stock of each title to anime conventions, whereas I may only bring <5 copies to smaller comic cons, zine fair, or literary festival. It is important to know who your audience is, the size of the convention. For example, it’d be silly for us to expect to sell our girly sparkly manga-style comics at SDCC even though the audience is mostly average celebrity chasers and superhero readers.
Kim: Thanks for the comments on our new blog :) We’ve been thinking for a long time about the things we do, and so it’s great when people read our tl;dr posts and get something out of it.
Continuing from Koyar’s point, it’s hard to come up with an exact number because it also depends heavily on how much stock each member is currently in possession of. With everyone in the collective living in different cities too, sometimes the amount of books isn’t pre-planned — we just bring whatever the heck we have on hand.
This is another reason why we make our books in small batches on demand. For example, if I know Koyar is going to an upcoming convention, I am able to print up whatever amount I think she’ll need and send it to her. She will just keep selling them until we run out, and then we make more. It’s not an exact science, but it works.
For books that we get printed professionally by a company, we bring whatever we can physically carry to the convention (lol). When I’m traveling I usually just load up my suitcase to about 40~50lbs which is the max that my skinny 5foot-asian-girl-arms can carry. We make a big push at sales for the debut of the book, and then divide up the remaining books accordingly afterwards (since this way I can distro the books to the other members without having to waste more money on mail). Telling you this also doesn’t give us an exact figure to give you, unfortunately, but I hope it at least gives you an idea of what we do.
Dirchansky: Hello! Thank you so much for reading our entries, we’re happy that it can inspire and help other people with their self-publishing endeavours.
The largest print run we’ve worked with was ~300s books. We still have boxes and boxes of those books leftover as literal paper weights. Because of such experiences, I’m reluctant to invest in printing more than 150 books in one go (through professional printers). However, I know people who can easily sell 100+ books at a convention. I’m just not one of them.
We mentioned previously that we’re not that popular online or offline, so your visibility and “popularity” definitely plays a role in how many books you should print/bring.
I would not say that we are masters of determining the magic number. Some books sell better than expected, some books sell less than expected. I sometimes think of comic/book-making to be a risky and expensive hobby, but I also think of it as “I’ll print some books instead of flying to an exotic vacation location for 1000$”.
A few LLH members have been selling books at conventions for 10+ years. At some conventions, people start to recognize our work because we go there regularly, and they want to pick up anything that is new on our table. If you are the type that goes to conventions all over, you might want to only bring a portion to each convention so you can spread your books out to different audiences.
Also consider how much other stuff you will be having on your table, because the more choice of titles/products you have, the more “spread out” the sales will be.
If you already have some readership, you can also take paid pre-orders to gauge how many copies to print. For a new book, my safe number for printing is ~100 copies (+ contributor copies), the amount I tend to bring is ~20-40 books. Leftovers are sold online and at later conventions. OH YEAH we’re in Canada, so overall # con attendants is much less compared to conventions in USA.
I know this isn’t a clear answer, but it’s very situation dependent. General advice: shoot lower at first, and then build readership, then print more…
(unless you have money to burn)
Koyar: wow we typed so much lol