SINCE our collective voice cracked in last week’s post, Leon wanted me to chime in on BCGF and various Acres happenings. When it comes to social media, I get a little anxious about chattering on too much. As Tom Devlin noted on Twitter a while back, Leon is “the funny one.” I don’t know what that makes me, exactly (the dour one? The one who tries to be funny and looks like an jackass in the process? A little of both?Let’s find out!), but it’s true that Leon uses the Acres voice better than I can, and I suspect that posts solely from me will continue to be few and far between.
Leon suggested that my post address BCGF from a numbers standpoint, but I am not so convinced that anyone really wants me to prattle on about sales records and trends. I think I can summarize: BCGF 2012 was our single best day of convention sales ever, and those sales were strong across all of our titles and the books we distribute. Believe it or not, this is unusual. Convention shows each have a “character” of sorts where certain kinds of titles and artists sell, and other titles get no sales traction. BCGF’s character this year seemed to be: everything is interesting and sells. Being that we’re five years into publishing books and doing all we can to represent titles that are as diverse as our own personal tastes, this is the kind of sales spread that is particularly gratifying and validating.
We were scattered at BCGF this year, as Leon noted in his post. The storm prevented us from organizing our new office, titles were left behind and needed to be retrieved once the convention started, traffic was hideous, we relied on an electronic sales tracking system that we had never used before…it was mayhem. Unfortunately, SPX was similarly chaotic for different reasons. For both shows, I remained behind the table almost constantly because our poor organization was combined (blessedly) with brisk sales. At BCGF I left the table once to eat and once to investigate how it was possible that John Martz and Aaron Costain were able to enter the country without incident (if you need proof that the borders are improperly policed, may I please direct your attention to the ferociously bearded Canadian menace of John and Aaron). Julia Wertz showed me something unsavory on her cell phone and gave me a delicious cookie. Josh Simmons (!!!) came to the table to make a trade. And that was pretty much the sum of my BCGF-day socializing. I barely got to speak to Annie Koyama and I didn’t speak at all to a couple of other folks that are very important to us at Secret Acres: Chris Pitzer and John Porcellino. Because I made it to a number of pre-show parties (Desert Island, Tomato House, Bergen Street (x2)), I got to see a great number of my favorite comics people, but it never felt like there was enough time to catch up completely. I skipped the Saturday night party for fear that I would never recover from the weekend.
Several people have offered condolences to me about the storm, but I want to be clear that they should all go to Leon. He was evacuated and unable to return home for a month (and even when he did return, he had no heat). I was fine. Other than a little cabin fever (engaging in psychological warfare with my cat and playing endlessly disappointing games of “fuck, marry, kill” with the weathermen on The Weather Channel), the worst I had to endure during the storm was overhearing three intolerable investment bankers fret over the potential storm damage to their cars.
For a publisher, direct convention sales and online sales are the highest-margin sales that we make. At Secret Acres, roughly one third of our net sales are convention/online, one third retail/Amazon and one third distribution (Diamond/Baker & Taylor). Convention sales are crucial to our business and it’s the one sales channel where we get to interact with the customers. Another sales tidbit: SPX alone counts for 40% of all the convention revenue we make each year, and we usually go to five to seven shows. TCAF, CAKE, SPX and BCGF this year were all terrific shows for us and we’re excited to participate in all of them next year. Our last show of the year will be the Locust Moon Comics Festival in Philadelphia. We’ll be there with Koyama books as well as our own.
You know what numbers are interesting to me? Google analytics. Some trivia based on Google analytics:
Most of our traffic in the past two years has come from Twitter and Theo Ellsworth’s blog. A huge amount of traffic comes from Optimum Wound, which lists submissions guidelines for various comics publishers. Other large sources of visitors to the site: Facebook, Comics Reporter, Koyama Press and Michael DeForge’s site. The most traffic we have ever garnered was for our MoCCA 2012 post. Pretty much the minute we started Tweeting and Facebooking on a regular basis, all site traffic doubled.
Common search terms for people finding the site are intuitive: Secret Acres and all of the names of artists we work with. Most of you are probably unaware of this, but Secret Acres appears in a business textbook published by Wiley. They even included a CD-ROM with video footage of us trash-talking Diamond! Because of this, we get a lot of searches for people trying to get answers to discussion questions in the book.
Fun Search Facts: the creepiest search terms we get are for Troop 142, not Wayward Girls. Leon Avelino has 52 search visits and I have a scant 27. Funny brings the pageviews! Most creative spelling of Acres: achres (shockingly common). Weirdest search term that looks crazy but actually makes sense: garo prison journal secret dan “no good.” Other bizarre trends: someone really wants to know when Minty Lewis was born and no one can properly spell the name Schulz.
In the interest of answering some of the less obvious search queries we’ve received in the past two years, I am going to publicly provide some responses. Future search queries for these terms should direct people right to this blog post. Below are the search terms, followed by my response in bold:
You’ll probably hear from us once more before the end of the year, perhaps with some hints as to our publishing plan for next year and our first-ever plea for interns. I do want to reiterate that the craziness and awfulness of this past year has made our glacially paced submission-reading even slower than usual. We are going to try and catch up, I promise. As I note above, it’s impossible for us to respond to every Emporium and publishing submission we get, so please don’t be offended if you don’t hear from us. We get a lot of great work that we don’t think we can promote properly.
That’s it for now – I hope you all had an agreeable Thanksgiving. Even in a crappy year, we can give thanks for making it this far along. Take care and stay tuned – there are always more great comics on the way.
What happens when Bigfoot meets the Breeders? Why, our Scuttlebutt TCAF wrap-up, of course! You'd think we were kidding, but we're not. If it weren't for Bigfoot, we'd never had gotten to meet the Breeders and see them play Last Splash front to back way up in Toronto. This has nothing to do with comics, but then most of what happens at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival has nothing to do with comics. It's really about the dancing. And the singing. And the topless singing. Worry not, we did get Capacity 8 unboxed and there were no border issues for anyone (except for Casey). We even made it to our panel, first thing Saturday morning. That may have been perfect timing, because it was something like Between Two Ferns meets group therapy. We're lucky bastards, for sure, but we missed the Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon, singing Bette Midler's the Rose (and, no, he was not topless). If any of you have video of this, or pictures of Drawn and Quarterly's jean vests, please, oh, please get back to us. Read on...
Finally, we are hitting the asphalt for our first road trip of the year. It's a long drive to the Toronto Comics Arts Festival and we are carrying some precious cargo as usual. Theo Ellsworth is being delivered via airmail, with fellow Acres Brendan Leach, Joe Lambert and Edie Fake meeting us there. Sean Ford has called shotgun, and Capacity 8 is in the boot. Capacity 8 is one of those surprise births with which we are regularly blessed here at Secret Acres. It's also the first time anyone in our gang has dropped a new story for a series that we've collected. Capacity, Theo's big, fat book, is a complete thing, for sure. The eighth issue is all new territory, but it's still all true. In a way. In that Capacity way. Oh, and we'll be kicking off first thing Saturday with a small press panel featuring pals and heroes, Koyama Press, Rebus Books and Grimalkin Press, too. This year's Acresmobile comic mule is the legendary Dash Shaw. Alas, last year's hitcher, MK Reed, is too lazy to make it to TCAF. Everyone else better be heading up - or catching Eamon Espey's Ishi's Brain show in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yeah, we're looking at you. We're standing right behind you. No, the other way. Anyhow, there's explicit instructions up on Scuttlebutt.
PEOPLE OF THE SEATTLE: Tonight's the night! Go watch Eamon Espey and Lisa Krause as they bring their show, Ishi's Brain, to Hugo House. Which is in Seattle. Ishi's Brain is based on Eamon's story of the same name from his Secret Acres collection, Songs of the Abyss. Lisa Krause is an artist and puppeteer of Bread and Puppet fame, among other things. It's quite a unique experience and pretty much beats the hell of out any old, regular reading. They are on tour all over the country, but there's something fitting about performing Ishi in Seattle. You know, because Seattle is strange and dark and there are scary woodlands and coffee. The Richard Hugo House is also something to see in itself. They have a writers' residence for zinesters (currently held by ZAPP), classes on seemingly everything, a focus on a local writing community and, of course, performances. Go. Have fun. Report back to us. Even the Stranger says to check it out. See...
Stranger things have certainly happened, but it would appear our man, Theo Ellsworth, will have not one, but two debuts at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. Yes, we will have the eighth issue of his ongoing Capacity (the first since our enormous collection of that title), but we'll tell you more about that later. Meanwhile, we knew Theo was working on a comic for an anthology, but we didn't realize it was the fourth Alternative Comics anthology. You may or may not be aware, but Alternative Comics published some truly amazing things, like Jeff Lewis' True Swamp and Steven Weissman's Yikes (yes, this was before Fantagraphics took over). Then they took some time off. Now they're back. Also included in this anthology are Alternative Comics graduate James Kochalka, this guy named Craig Thompson, the adorable Noah Van Sciver and #cybergang leader, Alex Schubert, to name a few. Get up to TCAF because it's amazing, and Theo and most of the Alternative Comics crew will be there to sign the thing. Collect them all!
On a more important note than usual: 282 Broadway is where the party has been for, well, seems like forever now. What the hell is that, you ask? It's the home address for Domino Books and Revival House and Rebus. It's known sometimes as Bill K's Place, as in Bill Kartalopoulos. Just about everyone who has ever attended or exhibited at a comics event in New York City or, hell, ever drawn a comic while in city limits, has been exhausted, high, drunk or lost in that apartment while rubbing elbows with their heroes. We've written plenty on our blog, about their comics and their parties, too. Now they're moving out. We're telling you this because these guys need a new home. Go buy some comics from them. Forget the good cause, their books are amazing and we've been seethingly jealous of their good work, so if you like us, help them and get some great stuff for yourself. Everybody wins!