How NOT To Run A Publishing House

By | Sunday, April 22, 2007 1 comment
Back in January, Silent Devil announced they were having a contest to redesign the banner at the top of their home page. According to the original announcement posted on Newsarama, "The winner will get a full compliment of Silent Devil comics and will be listed on the Silent Devil website as one of its creators... In addition, the winning designer of the Monsters of Comics banner and logo will receive $50..."

I sent in my entry a few days before the deadline, and the publisher posted it in a message board thread about the contest. He posted a couple more over the following few days and, at the end of January, he posted an announcment that the winner would be announced the following Monday.

A couple of weeks went by and a new banner went up on their web site. It wasn't mine -- no surprise; I wasn't terribly happy with what I turned in anyway -- but it wasn't one of the entries that had previously be shown on the message boards either. So one of the other contestants asked, on said message board, who had actually won. An hour later, the publisher responded that they were "Sending out the PR next week..."

A month and half later, with still no notice anywhere, I'd pretty well convinced myself that the new banner was actually done internally by the folks at Silent Devil. Not only was there no press, but the credits page distinctly does not list a creator for the banner, as was part of the promised prize package. And it wasn't as if the publisher folded either; there had been plenty of announcements about this new book or that and appearances at upcoming conventions. I sent the publisher an e-mail inquiring about the winner, as it had not yet been announced despite two very clear and concise messages that it was forthcoming. It's about two weeks later and I haven't even gotten a response.

Now, I can understand that they didn't get many entries, and weren't very happy with the ones they did get. You know, I went to school to study graphic design and if I walked away with anything, it's that not everyone has the same taste in visuals. I developed a pretty thick skin when it comes to my artwork; if someone doesn't like it, I'll listen to their feedback and incorporate whatever ideas I can to present them something they will like. My job as a graphic designer is to make the person I'm working for happy. So, for me personally, I don't care that I didn't win. I actually like the bannner they have up more than what I did anyway.

What I don't like, though, is the lack of respect the publisher has given to the folks who entered the contest. Not liking their work is one thing, but not providing answers to direct questions on the outcome is something else entirely. It feels like the publisher has just avoided the issue so that he didn't have to say, "Sorry, I just don't like what you did." The presumption is that either none of the contestants are worthy of an honest answer, or that they're too emotionally stunted to handle it. In either case, it shows a fair amount of disrespect for the contestants -- which in this instance are comic book readers who could have potentially been turned into Silent Devil proponents.

I had read a couple of SD books before, and The Devil's Panties sounded kind of interesting, so I have to admit that I was hoping to win to see the overall line they have. But a publisher who doesn't seem to respect his readers..? Kind of turns me off to the whole company. I've been to plenty of shops who DON'T carry many of their books, and I don't now really have the inclanation to even ask.

So, the morale of today's story is that, if you're trying to promote your books -- whether you're a writer, artist, publisher, whomever -- you can't really afford to disrespect your potential customers. (Unless, of course, you've got a proven product like, say, Batman or Spider-Man. But even then, it's not exactly a wise move.)
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The Devil's Panties was a series of webcomics first - with no original affiliation with SD, so don't hold it against the book - and go read it anyway :-)

- David Gallaher