When I started Curveball the primary conceit was “it’When I started Curveball the primary conceit was “it’s a comic book without the pictures.” Only, it wasn’t a comic book, because creating physical objects is a lot more expensive than creating electronic ones. There’s no specific market for them, so it falls into the “it would be neat if I could do this” category, which means Print On Demand, which means “more expensive than a traditional print run,” which means “nope, can’t justify it.”
Except I figured out how to make it work.
That’s right. Curveball is now available as a trade paperback. Or, as I like to call it, a “prose comic book.”
The thing with Curveball is that I keep comparing it to comic books. I mean, everyone else thinks of it as a webserial that will eventually be a book–and eventually I expect there will be a book version of it–but I think of each release as an issue, just like DC and Marvel. And the greatest achievement, for me, would be to be able to release little mini-books every month for each issue, in print. Just because then I could tell people “it’s exactly like a comic book except for the whole art thing.”[efn_notes]We’ll ignore for the moment that the “art thing” is probably the primary reason people like comic books. No offense to writers of comic books, but if all it had was narration boxes and speech bubbles I suspect sales would decline.[/efn_notes]
The problem is cost. Digital comic books (i.e., the ones I buy through ComiXology and download to my phone or tablet) average about $2.50 an issue. The print versions seem to range anywhere from $2.99 to $4.50 an issue. Now this is kind of expensive for a comic book (“I remember when…” etc.) but it’s prohibitively expensive for a Print On Demand title. I’ve started using CreateSpace, which is one of the cheaper reliable services, but there’s still a bottom.
When I released Pay Me, Bug! as a trade paperback. I experimented with turning Issue One of Curveball into a trade paperback as well, but I couldn’t get the price point I wanted. If Curveball was essentially a comic book without the pictures, I wanted it to cost less than a comic book with pictures, so my price point was $2.50–the cost of buying a digital comic on ComiXology.
I couldn’t do it. The cost of binding, the cost of paper, the cost of the color cover… it cost too much to make.
Then, out of curiosity, I calculated the cost of publishing a double issue–in other words, how much it would cost to release a paperback of Issue One and Issue Two together, instead of publishing them separately. Much to my surprise, it was exactly the same cost to make.
In retrospect, it makes sense. By publishing a double issue, essentially the only thing I’m doing is adding extra black-and-white ink pages. CreateSpace page costs fit within a specific range, and it appears that 35 pages and 70 pages fall into the same page range.
With that in mind, I present Curveball Issues One and Two, Curveball Issues Three and Four, and Curveball Issues Five and Six. Should you be interested in purchasing them, each issue is priced at $5.00–the cost of two comic books purchased in digital form.
The paperbacks will be released every other month,–for example, Curveball Issues Seven and Eight should be available at the end of February, assuming all goes well.
There’s a little fanboy in my head who’s pumping his fist shouting “I just published a comic book! Sorta! I just published a comic book! Sorta! I just published a comic book! Sorta!” It’s neat.
I will be at What the Hell!? Con in Greensboro, NC this weekend, and I’ll have a few copies to show off. If you’re in the area, stop by and I’ll show you a book full of nothing but words.[efn_notes]… I may have to work on that pitch a bit.[/efn_notes]