Monday, 25 October 2021

1980s Pop Star Colouring Book - the publishing empire rolls on

 I was supposed to be writing a crime novel. It's a month now since I met up with Tony Lee at the Coventry Comic Festival and he insisted there was great money to be made writing crime novels. Then I let myself get distracted by videos on Youtube, the first suggesting I should publish Blank Comic Books, then another suggesting I should publish Halloween Colouring Books. Then I made a 1970s Pop Star Colouring Book, and found it so much fun I made two more.

Well, this is the fourth (and for the time being final) one, the 1980s Pop Star Colouring Book. And somehow it's taken me way longer than any of the others. I made the 1990s colouring book in two days! One day to draw the pictures, one day to write the captions. I thought it was getting easier. Then I sounded out people online to ask which acts should be featured in the book - partly out of research, but mostly to drum up advance interest - and subsequently found I couldn't whittle the list down to less than 40. Even then loads of top acts didn't make the cut, like UB40 and Shakin Stevens. What can I say, it was a very poptastic decade.

I was drawing the final images, then writing all the captions, while I was on my week away doing schools in the North. I had a Socks gig in Manchester on Monday Oct 11, then was in Nether Kellet on the 12th, Quernmore on the 13th, had the school at Sedbergh cancelled on the 14th so was in cafes in Kendal most of the day, staying in Kendal right over the weekend of the Lakes Comic Festival, returning via a school in Huddersfield on my birthday, Mon Oct 18th. And after that whole week. I'd only just finished the book ready to upload when I got home. I uploaded it on Oct 19th and it went on sale later that day. 

It looks like my time on the 1980s book, both the advance publicity and the work on all those pages, has paid off because, after a week, my sales figures for all my recent books on Amazon looks like this:

Halloween Colouring Book (Sept 26) - 12 copies sold (I emailed every school whose kids work was in the book)
Super Blank Comic Book (pub Sep 27) - 3 copies sold
Action Blank Comic Book (Sep 28) - 4 copies sold
Halloween Blank Comic Book (Sep 28) - 1 copy sold
Cute Blank Comic Book (Sep 28) - 1 copy sold
Halloween Colouring Book Vol 2 (Sep 29) - 4 copies sold (despite emailing every school, as above)

1970s Pop Star Colouring Book (Oct 1) - 8 copies sold
2020s Pop Star Colouring Book (Oct 2) - 3 copies sold
1990s Pop Star Colouring Book (Oct 7) - 5 copies sold
1980s Pop Star Colouring Book (Oct 19) - 13 copies sold

So the 1980s is our biggest, and fastest seller, so far, though that could of course peter out quickly (as the Halloween Colouring Book's sales did, once all the teachers had bought one). Nothing seems to be being picked up by the Amazon KDP algorithms that these Youtube gurus suggest is the magic means by which you suddenly start selling 5 grand's worth of blank comic books in a month. This is, I have realised, a lot of self-promoting baloney, designed to make you watch more of these snake-oil salesfolks' videos and buy their merch. It's nothing to do with helping you, the gullible viewer, suddenly turn into a successful publishing entrepreneur. There's no such thing as a free lunch and, fun as my colouring books were to make, there's not a vast market out there sitting waiting to snap them up. So I shall content myself with having put these out there - and having earned about £120 in a month, which is more than I've made from Amazon to date, but it does average out at £12 per book, so hardly the great moneyspinner - and get on with some proper work.

UPDATE: As of Nov 4th, 1980s Pop Star Colouring Book has sold 25 copies, the others haven't moved.

Now where was that crime novel I started pretending I'd write a month ago...?

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who, and graphic novels adapted from Shakespeare, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and TwitterHe is the host of the podcast Comic Cuts The Panel Show

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