Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Public Speaking...

Or... I believe that children are our future. :0)

Okay, so I was invited to speak at a local school about my career as a Cartoonist. Apparently, one of the third grade classes had read one of my books out loud and loved it. That book was The inquiring Minds #1, a full color comic strip collection.

Excited, and a bit nervous, I put down my full load of work and headed out into the snow completely unprepared to face not one, but two classes of third graders. It was very unusual for me to be unprepared, but I happened to have a deadline on a project, and I had thought school was cancelled because of the snow.

Anyway, I got there with minutes to spare, signed in, and immediately went to the wrong classroom, on the wrong wing of the school. Breaking land speed records, and hoping there were no Hall Monitors about, I made it just in time to the correct classroom, as the teacher was just introducing me. I walked in with my box of books and swag, and saw dozens of little faces staring up at me from the floor where they were sitting. I had a little white marker board to draw on, but the swarm of children were up against it, so I ended up sketching while standing behind the board and looking down it, much to the amusement of the class.

So, I began to speak, and found myself incredibly outnumbered and up against the wall as the barrage of questions never ended. :0)

Still, their enthusiasm was wonderful, and most of the questions were pretty good, although they mostly wanted to hear about and see The Inquiring Minds. I had to draw all the characters for them, which was nice, but remember I had to almost draw upside down since I was standing behind the drawing board, which caused quite a few giggles.

After that, I was asked to draw everything from a hotdog (which made some kids hungry) to the Titanic (including Jack and Rose saying "king of the world"). I also passed out HappyGlyphs stickers, half of which immediately got attached to shirt fronts, providing me with a full day's bit of advertising for sure.

Overall it was an exhausting experience, but I'm sure after some recuperation time I will come to see it as the joyous experience it really was. Seriously, it was really nice to see so many people actually interested in my work, and they really were a great bunch of kids, who can't be faulted for their over enthusiasm. I mean, can you imagine if they just sat there?

If only I was allowed to sell some books. :0) I would have made a mint!

Hopefully they'll all go home to their parents and tell them all about HappyGlyphs.com. :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)

PS I received a delightful package of cartoons from the kids, as thanks for speaking to them. Since I haven't revealed the school, I think it safe to publish some fan art here with names removed to protect the innocent.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New and Improved, The Inquiring Minds 1.5

Although we still have a few copies of The Inquiring Minds #1, they threaten to disappear fast after the talk I gave recently at a local school. More on that on our next blog, but meanwhile, we have made The Inquiring Minds available for the first time at our Lulu store.

Now, I'm warning you that prices have gone up there, so if you'd like the book, you might want to check with us first. However, as you can see from the photo, the new and improved The Inquiring Minds #1.5 is slightly larger than the original. It's also perfect bound, like a book, not a comic, and the quality of the paper and colors is really quite good.

Also, since we can't let well enough alone, we added a few new cartoons, including.... now hold on to your seats... for the FIRST time anywhere in print... the complete four part storyline of Lord Fang Attacks, written and illustrated by me and the fabulous Brian Hughes!!!! YAY!!!!!!!

No, not that Brian Hughes.. the Cartoonist. See the second photo for a sneak preview of that fantastic story where Brian wrote part 1, and then I wrote part 2, and so on, without consulting the other. Very good stuff, and quite brilliant if I do say so myself.

It's also available as a very affordable download... cheaper than a half cup of coffee! So there's little excuse for you not checking it out.

And speaking of The Inquiring Minds, here is a look at this week's strip from The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Shop at our Lulu Store
Buy directly from HappyGlyphs Comics

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Self Publishing 101: Cost of Goods Sold

A lot of you are interested in the price of Self Publishing, mainly because you know deep inside that it ain't gonna be cheap, but you still want to weigh the pros and cons of the issue before deciding.

Printing costs are still going up, and it is getting harder and harder to self publish, AND there may be a cost to self publishing that you haven't realised. Worse, if you don't know about this, you could be heading for BIG trouble.

I will break this into two parts, and tell you which part you need.

First, why self publishing? If you want a copy of a book for yourself, or to give to friends, then part one is for you. If you are in business for yourself, or want to be, you had better read both parts, especially part two.

PART ONE: Cost of Self Publishing

I've covered the cost of publishing before here, so read that post as well. That really goes indepth into the why's and how much of printing, and choosing a printer.

The thing is, printing is expensive. Looking at comics, the big comic book companies are considering moving the price of a color comic book up to $4.00. A Print on demand color comic might have a base price of $8.00! Add a little for yourself, and honestly, who's gonna pay more than $8 for a comic book? Now, a graphic novel will be a little cheaper in comparison, but there is a lot more work involved in creating a graphic novel. You can save money with black and white books, or using cheaper paper, but you get what you pay for, and sometimes black and white is not an option.

To really save money, you need to print lots of copies of a book. If you go by a traditional printer, you have no choice but to buy at least 100 copies of a book... usually more. Print on demand is nice because you print how many copies that you need, but that can be very expensive on a per book basis. The base price of a book is fixed, so to make a profit, the base price plus your profit and costs must be competively priced to similar books out there. You just cannot do that with print on demand or vanity press publishing.

Actually, some print on demand places offer discounts for bulk orders, so you can save a little bit of money by purchasing a lot of books and then selling them yourself. This leads to the problem I bring up in Part Two.


Something you in business will have to consider is Cost of Goods Sold, or COGS. What does this mean to a Self Publisher? Pay attention.

You dish out a lot of money to have 100 copies of your book published, and you put it up for sale, and wait for the customers to roll in. Honestly, even if you have a lot of fans clamoring for your work, only a small percentage of real fans are going to buy one of your books. So you sell 10 or 20 books if you're lucky, and have 80 books left over.

Guess what? You cannot deduct the price of those books as a tax deduction. (Speaking for USA residents only, that is.) Please do not make the mistake of thinking that buying books is a business expense, because you cannot deduct the price of printing a book until you actually sell it. This goes for most if not all goods sold, which is why you see so many big sales at the end of the year.

Because I self publish, I cannot offer deep discounts on my books, because I already sell them as low as I can. I want the books out there right now, rather than going for profit. Every time I create a new book I purchase the book in bulk for sale through my site. Because of this, I have close to a thousand dollars worth of inventory in the studio after 6 years of self-publishing. And each year I can only deduct the cost of the books that I have sold that year, not when I bought them.

Figuring out COGS is available on Schedule C of your annual 1040 tax form, and can be quite confusing at first. Simply speaking, a business MUST keep a physical inventory of their items for sale, as well as the cost of producing those items.

To figure your COGS for the year, you need the value of your inventory at the beginning of the year added to the cost of new items for sale, and subtract from that the final value of inventory at the end of the year.

Simply put: Costs of Goods Sold = Goods Available for Sale - Inventory at end of Year.


The cost of self publishing can be higher than you think. You need to buy lots of books to sell competitively, but if you don't sell those books, that expense can weigh on you for some time.

Keep in mind that I am not a paid tax advisor, but COGS is something that you need to understand if you want to be in business for yourself.

Cheers, JOHN :0)