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Up All Night

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.

Your pal,

Barry

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October 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm

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Secret Acres
Facebook IconOctober 9, 2014 at 4:43 pm

It's that time of year again! The Best American Comics 2014 edition is out there and there are plenty of folks, like the Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon and the Stranger's Paul Constant calling this book the best of the series so far. It's the first time out for new series editor, Bill Kartalopoulos, and it has a new format of sorts, devised by edition editor, Scott McCloud, of Understanding Comics and Zot fame. McCloud groups the main selections, making a map of the current comics landscape. Broader than previous installments, it includes specific instructions to read the entire book, rather than browse through it - and you should do just that. Our very own Theo Ellsworth's the Understanding Monster Book One is included in the section titled EVEN STRANGER ADVENTURES (of course), and there are FOUR Secret Acres artists in the BAC Notable Comics section: Eamon Espey's Songs of the Abyss, Edie Fake's story from Monster Vol. 1, Robert Sergel's Eschew 3 and Sar Shahar's Sequential Vacation 2. Not bad, huh? We've got Bill K's blog post below, but you'll want to sit and read this one cover to cover. Thanks, Bill and Scott for all your hard work and congratulations on putting a great anthology together!

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Bill Kartalopoulos | on-panel.com

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Contents and Notable Comics from The Best American Comics 2014, posted by Series Editor Bill Kartalopoulos

Secret Acres
Facebook IconSeptember 24, 2014 at 2:58 pm

And Theo Ellsworth's the Understanding Monster Book Two has its very first ever review, from RE:Views Media's Max Szyc! It's a rare thing that a review makes us laugh out loud, or LOL, as the kids say. If you've read the first book of the Understanding Monster, you'll understand that reading doesn't begin to describe the experience of this story. The logic of this world, like most psychedelics, takes a minute to kick in. Like Max says, "A few more pages and then I think my mind may have reached some sort of subconscious arrangement with the material, meaning I think I 'got it'. Perhaps the book is so futuristic that it actually has the psychic power to make me think I’m understanding it." Cue us giggling. It is a long, strange trip indeed for toy mouse-bodied Izadore and his consciousness, but the sheer force of Theo's art will move you along with him. You may even start to identify with him. You can thank Max for capturing these feelings so well by reading his review. Thanks, Max!

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The Understanding Monster – Book Two

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A review of Theo Ellsworth's "The Understanding Monster: Book Two."

Secret Acres
Facebook IconSeptember 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm

We survived yet another Small Press Expo. This is no mean feat. Between the thousand deep gang of exhibitors and the crush of so many attendees, it's a wonder we're still standing. Credit Corrinne Mucha for pulling us through. In the absence of Theo Ellsworth (DNP - Fatherhood), Mike Dawson (DNP - Bachelor Party) and Brendan Leach (DNP - Get well soon!), Corinne sketched out everybody's books. We mean everybody's. Even Sean Ford's books. And Sean was there. Secret Acres made bank, yes, but we hardly got to see anybody, or so it felt. This might explain how we escaped the con crud which is laying so many folks out after SPX. This year's show was really all about the Breeders, meaning the band, not folks making babies. Corinne, you see, had not heard of the Breeders. We can see not having heard of, say, U2. But the BREEDERS? COME ON. Also, fair warning, we don't dare dish on our SPX 2014 Celebrity Comics Mule, Tucker Stone. In fact, we're terrified of what he must be saying about us right now. Check out the blog, and you can also get some details on this Sunday's event, the Brooklyn Book Festival! It's going to be a star-studded affair at the Secret Acres-Koyama Press megatable...

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THE MOUTH of Tucker Stone damn near swallowed us whole on the ride down to this year’s Small Press Expo. We are hereby awarding him an Ignatz Brick for Outstanding Shit-Talking Comics Mule. Who knew Nobrow was so gangsta? We appreciate it, Tucker; you were the best consolation for us being down a ma…

Secret Acres
Facebook IconSeptember 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm

OKAY. Summer's over and we're heading back to school, or at least back to our Scuttlebutt blog. It's been a while and a half, but we've been busy, sitting by the pool, giggling, eating watermelon. Included in this post is a rundown of our trip to RIPE, our first ever internet kerfuffle, SPX news and switcheroos, and one rather ridiculous Secret Acres baby boom. Boy, oh, boy are we looking forward to SPX. We know we promised you the second volume of Theo Ellsworth's the Understanding Monster. The good news is that the book WILL be at the show and it will be beautifully sketched and signed. The bad news is that Theo is skipping out - but he'll be coming out to Comics Art Brooklyn to officially debut his new book. He has a a good reason (note the mention of a baby boom above). We do, however, have Sean Ford, Eamon Espey and Corinne Mucha coming to comics camp with us and they will armed with new minis, prints and even little paintings. Our guest comics mule for the road trip will be Tucker Stone, so we'lll have plenty of gossip to dish when we get back. You get yourself to SPX! See you this weekend...

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FIRST THINGS FIRST: Secret Acres had a grand old time at RIPE, the Rhode Island Independent Publishing Expo, which really should be RIIPE, but who’s counting? Dave Nuss, smooth operator of Revival House Press was our celebrity comics mule and neighbor at the show. We would like him to be our neighbo…

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