While sitting in a panel on how to start a comic book business, one fan stood up and told us about a company I had never heard of before: Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. Apparently, they are based all across the United States (with some presence in Canada and Australia) and are made up of lawyers who will work completely free or for a discounted rate.
Their business? The arts. According to their website, their mission is to provide
"...pro bono arts-related legal representation and education to low-income artists and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. To do so, we offer legal counseling, educational programs, advocacy, and alternative dispute resolution. We believe that artists should understand certain legal and business matters to protect themselves and their creative endeavors."
But at the end of the day, the panelists said that kickstarter campaigns, which did not exist until fairly recently, are supper important.
"If it's not your passion project, you're in the wrong business," said Dinesh Shamdasani, CEO and CCO of Valiant.
If you can show people you are passionate about what you are selling, they will be more open to hearing about it, and maybe even buy something!
According to Ross Richie, CEO and Founder of Boom! Studios, it is hard to get anyone interested in a shirt or partnering product unless your comic has a good fan base or platform. While merchandising is the most valuable part of any business, without a following and people who are genuinely interested in your product, you won't sell anything.
"Build it first," Richie said.
But is it worth it? Without a big company like Marvel to back you, will you burn out before you see payday?
On top of kickstarter, David Steinberger (CEO & co-founder at comiXology) recommends using your social media to your advantage. It all goes back to building your fan base. Get people excited about your product and you may just grab the attention of a bigger company, which can help you if you're just printing things out of your garage or at the local Kinkos.
So don't give up, PopArtists! There are plenty of avenues to explore, and plenty of ways to get noticed for what you love!
Just remember, if you don't love it, it won't sell.