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.
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We're back on our Scuttlebutt blog with our Comic Arts Brooklyn report, and our Brooklyn Ale House party report and our Grumpy Bert show report and our year-end report and a tiny, little look ahead to next year. CAB is, for us and lots of other comics people, the start of the holiday season, so we're a little Auld Lang Syne-ish about the show. There were hiccups this time around, and no Cartoon House (see the post for an explanation of that) but CAB still has the best exhibitors at any show, making Brooklyn proud. Speaking of heart-warming, many thanks to the folks at Grumpy Bert. Someone came all the way from Philadelphia just to see Theo and the brand new second book of his Understanding Monster trilogy. That's the kind of amazing that made 2014 our best year ever. We owe everyone a big thank you for reading our books and, really, for reading. You guys are the best. Normally, in our last post of the year, we babble about all the new stuff coming your way. We can't do that anymore. We're joining the likes of Koyama Press and Uncivilized Books and Nobrow at the good distributorship, Consortium. Sure, that's business stuff, but it's a big deal for Secret Acres. Still, we did manage to sneak at least one 2015 comic into this final blathering. Read on...
Comic Arts Brooklyn is today! I'll be signing at the Secret Secret Acres table!
Join us and Theo Ellsworth and everybody else tonight for a gallery show and some Comic Arts Brookyln pre-gaming at Brooklyn’s own Grumpy Bert! You can beat the CAB crowd to the punch and get your very own signed and sketched copy of Theo’s latest, the Understanding Monster Book Two. Book Two picks up where Book One left off, following Pharoah Tellitome, Inspector Gimble, Turtletree, Master Sponko and Minnow on their collective quest to awaken Izadore and re-establish his identity and memory. Get to Grump Bert early enough and you can really lord it over folks: the first ten to arrive get a limited edition Theo print made just for tonight’s show. Of course, there will be free beer and bubbly, too. What more is there to life?