Friday, February 02, 2007

Self-publishing doesn't count

Eragon is the exception, not the rule.

Having given up my dream of becoming a syndicated comic strip artist, I nonetheless undertook the arduous task of compiling all the comic strips I published in The Daily Tar Heel while at the University of North Carolina and self-published it on the 10th anniversary of my graduation. I soon discovered that some college memories fade fast, and the fans I had in college were no longer breathlessly awaiting my characters’ next moves. And it was extremely hard to market. If I had sold the damn thing DURING graduation weekend, while everyone was still in Chapel Hill, I bet it would have been snapped up like a quarter draft. Wait a decade or so, and my entire fanbase was scattered all over the country. An obscenely expensive ad in the alumni magazine generated a little interest—barely enough to pay for itself.

In the end, “UNC•ology, The Man from UNCle 1984-1988” sold in the hundreds. Which was hundreds less than I had printed. Someone astutely pointed out later that I probably shouldn’t have included “1984-1988” in the title, potentially alienating readers who didn’t actually attend UNC during those years. Probably right, I said, as I stared at the boxes upon boxes of freshly minted books.
But I stand by the work itself—it’s not very timely, so it doesn’t matter if you went to UNC in 1984, 1974 or 2004. Most of it isn’t even directly related to UNC, just the universal college experience.

Interested? For you, I make very good deal.

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