Over at The Engine, Top Cow’s Rob Levin admits to the harsh realities of publishing:
Some publishers can get away with certain numbers knowing that they’ll make their money back in trade sales, foreign distribution, or movie deals. While we’re not against taking a loss on a project we really believe in provided it’s a quality book we’d be proud to put out, sometimes the loss outweighs the prestige. As I typed that last line I wonder how much of a hypocrite I look like if you go and read all my responses on this thread…
The thing is, it isn’t all about money. But ten years ago people were willing to take a chance on new properties. But for every Walking Dead, there are about 50 books no one ever actually reads, and that die before the creators intend. It’s becoming increasingly impossible for a company, one who assumes all creative, publishing, and marketing costs to publish a new ongoing series that is actually ongoing. Nowadays getting a book to 12 issues is hard. I can’t think of the last new book we launched that got there. Maybe it’s because our model is more six-issue minis, but maybe it’s because our ongoings are forced to become minis because the talent used, good or bad, makes it impossible to continue the series without some major budget issues.
I won’t bore you with economics, but that’s really what it comes down to…. [A]bout a month ago I had a pitch rejected from on high. It was a book from an established indie team, and regardless of any creator-owned/control issues that may have been brought up, the thing came down to the fact that while it was a damn good story, and a damn good team, it wasn’t going to sell the numbers we need. We would eventually be forced to cancel it, even though we had three years of story mapped out, because we’d be losing money probably from the second issue on.
Sorry, I’m kind of sick and I realize this is a terrible post since I can’t stay focused. Anyway, the biggest problem is that even when we take chances, fans don’t. I’ll point at last year as the prime example. Three books launched over six months. 2 ongoings, one mini. I can blame the concepts, the teams, or the marketing, but the fact of the matter is, we attempted to expand our line and got bit directly in the ass. The market didn’t support the books.