last summer or fall, I decided I would finally seriously apply for a
I'd started the process before, asking for their brochures, sending
letters and notes, almost putting together a proposal, but always, I
managed to scrape up the money on my own, and I would abandon the Xeric
process and go on to publish a single-edition-sized drawn book.
This time, however, several factors made me decide to go for it. My
financial situation was tighter, and -- what the heck. Everybody with
a quality book seemed to be going for it. The Xeric Grant was sponsoring
some good stuff. I decided to apply, seriously this time, just to be
able to say I'd attempted the process.
I called up my favorite (especially because it's local) printer, Consolidated
Press, in Seattle, and got some estimates. They were pretty loose -
I didn't even know how much shipping I'd deal with. I didn't figure
I'd come close to getting the full costs -- IF I won at all -- so I
just put down the amount for the book itself. It was a pretty hefty
Then I went and copied all the art, and tried to make it legible. It's
been done in a lot of different sizes, over the years. I boxed up my
huge stack of copies -- 6 copies of a 224-page book is a LOT of paper.
Did all the rest of the paperwork, including all the embarrassing yada
about how important the book was, and what a great artist and writer
I was, and how much drawn books meant as an art form. Well, it's a grant,
I thought. I'm supposed to do this. If I can do it for advertising,
I can do it for a grant. Besides, drawn books ARE an important art form.
Threw it in the mail. And went off to do other things. I'd get it, or
I wouldn't. I didn't figure I'd get it. It's my mother was the lucky
one. If she said a horse had a pretty tail, it would win. I never won
Right around September 11, things went bad for me. Not because of that,
but it's another story. I didn't feel like doing anything. I sure didn't
feel like drawing a book, much less publishing one.
One day, a little note floated into the mail slot that told me I'd successfully
completed the grant process. I was pleased, but I shrugged. It was like
completing a homework project. I'd gotten an okay from the teacher,
but that was probably as far as it was going to go. I filed it, happy
that at least I'd gotten that project out of the way. I could say I'd
tried. And I could deduct all those copy costs.
In the meantime, I went on putting my head back together. And long,
long, before I was ready for it, I got this letter in the mail. Xeric
Grant. Here we go, I thought. One more thing to file. "We would
like to inform you -- "
I dropped the letter.
I almost dropped over myself.
I'd WON the damn thing!!!!
ALL OF IT.
Oh Jesus. I'd have to publish the book. San Diego was coming up. No
way I could put it together to make it in time. My head was still in
little splinters, not capable, not even wanting to think about it.
So, yes, I turned to my usual means of getting my head together. In
a perfect panic, I spent the rest of the day mumbling to myself. And
when night came, I spent all of it throwing up and drinking water, throwing
up and drinking water. My body and I were not friends. Its sole goal
in life is to a wealthy invalid. When the brain springs these little
surprises on it, it doesn't get mad, it gets EVEN.
Anyway, the next morning, I started making the usual phone calls to
Consolidated Printing, telling them I had the money, and we could start.
Now this is the easy part. You just tell the distributors you're coming,
and solicit within their deadlines. Quick, get on the email (anybody
wants to know those email addresses, just ask - I'm at www.stinz.com
or email@example.com if you want to be more direct). Then go lay out the
information and a little art and zip it over to them, using the ftp
site on my website. Put together an ad for the CBG. Tell everybody on
my email list, including all my favorite retailers. Be sure to encourage
people to buy from retailer they like, but if they don't have one, then
to check out the website and order from there.
In the meantime, get the layout files ready, and send preliminaries
over to Consolidated. They want some payment up front, so ask Xeric
for it. They send the whole grant. Wow. In the meantime, find out about
all my stupid mistakes, like wrong dpi for the illos on the back cover.
Or a bad ISBN plate. Fix that. Finally get a blue-line. Find out that
Consolidated laid this out on a 95 degree day, which is killer for Seattle,
and were all heat-happy, so they swapped pages and used the wrong files.
No biggie - way ahead of deadline. Have 'em do it again, their costs,
not mine. Consolidated NEVER screws up, but like I said, when it's hot
and sunny in Seattle, everybody gets giddy and just wants to go to the
beach. Keep this in mind when doing business with the Pacific Northwest.
We work like little beavers when it's raining. Red Ryder would be proud.
The books are printed a month ahead of time. Better get 'em, before
we have warehousing costs kick in. Run over to grab them in my '69 VW
bug, or at least part of them, because the bug is not going to haul
more than 350 pounds. Roberta Gregory, who is almost like a co-op partner
with me, promises to get the rest in her truck. I'll do the drop-shipping
myself this time.
Ship a big box to Cold Cut, to participate in the Indy Island for the
2002 San Diego Comicon. Wait for the orders to come in - as they are.
Oh, jeeze... I hope I printed enough copies.
(PS.. If I'd been farther along in the Print-on-demand methods,
I'd have applied for that, instead of for traditional web-press printing.
Since then, I've discovered a POD company that I think can do it for
drawn books. And I've had them talk to distributors and retailers, and
it looks like these important parts of our industry won't be left out.
If I find out how, I'll share that too! The more bees - the more flowers.)
Barr's Excellent Items: www.stinz.com