Jul 292010

Last year I organized a project where we gutted an ’80s era arcade cabinet and filled it full of indie games. Jph Wacheski, the chief retrofitter, wrote the article below for people wanting to do the same in the most recent Broken Pencil.

Lots of people are making their own games these days — point-and-click tools like Scratch and GameMaker are making it more accessible for non-programmers, and it’s easy to get your game out there via the internet. But wouldn’t it be even cooler to get you and your friends’ games out there on an old-school arcade cabinet?

The old cabinets are generally made to play one specific game, but you can re-fit it with a PC and a display and wire up the existing controls to make playing new games possible. Many people have been doing this to run emulators of the classic games — MAME cabinets can run hundreds of old games on a single cabinet. The Hand Eye Society, Toronto’s videogame culture collective, wanted to do a similar thing, but with locally made games. They debuted the Torontron, which plays six hand-crafted games by Toronto indies, at the last Canzine. Jph, who did the retrofitting, takes us through the steps he took.

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Jul 152009

We’ve just launched the mini-site for Sword of My Mouth, making the first two issues (and commentary from me and Shannon) available for subscribers and people who’ve pre-ordered the graphic novel. It’s the first third (48 pages) of the book so far, and we’ll be adding a chapter every other month until we launch the complete graphic novel edition at next year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival. UPDATE: The Globe and Mail just ran an article about our publishing experiment.

One of the things we did differently with this book was research, and so I’ll take this opportunity to write a bit about that. Continue reading »

Mar 112009

One of the coolest thing about the comics world is that it doesn’t dismiss self-publishers the way the lit world does. Maybe because it’s a less pretentious field, or a newer one, or that drawing talent is more quickly discerned at a glance. Certainly it helps that one of the more prominent awards and grants, the Xeric, is open only to self-publishers.

Comic artist and former No Media Kings intern stef lenk received a Xeric grant for her illustrated booklets TeaTime 1 and 2. Whether you’ve got a project that you’re submitting to the next Xeric deadline at the end of this month, or if you’re just interested in hearing about the nuts and bolts of comics publishing from printing to promotion, you’ll find stef’s opinions and experiences in the article below food for thought. UPDATE: Canadian comic self-publishers will want to check out this Gene Day Award.
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Oct 032008

I did a talk at Word on the Street last week tailored to a general, writing-interested Toronto audience. Ramón Pérez did live sketches that illustrated the talk, which were amazing considering the scant minutes each was allowed and the not-terribly-visual subject matter.

Other than actually writing, the most important thing to do as a writer is get your writing out to readers. You get feedback from readers, connect with fellow writers who share your sensibility, & you get a sense of closure that allows you to move on to your next project.

Some people think that getting published by a traditional book publisher is the only way to get your writing out to readers. There’s a real bottleneck here — even though there’s some benefit to the publishers in this circumstance, I would argue that writers don’t benefit from it, readers don’t benefit from it, and neither does our writing culture. This perception of the editor-gatekeepers just creates a tense and risk-averse climate.

So, I’m going to detour around the bottleneck and focus on the diversity of methods writers can use to get their writing out there. The ten things I list are often considered different mediums and require collaboration and/or different skillsets, but writing can be central to them. Continue reading »

Apr 282008

emilyandlisa-thumb.jpgLocus is a collaboration between two small independent publishers in Melbourne, aduki independent press and Vignette Press, run by Emily and Lisa. They got together to run market stalls (and now also a blog) because they knew doing it with a friend would be more enjoyable than going it alone. They were kind enough to share their advice on selling indie books and zines.

Doing market stalls probably won’t make you rich or sell a truckload of books. Our best market day ever made about $750, mostly we make a lot less than that. Beer money, really. But even if you don’t sell a lot you’re still spreading the word and marketing your product, which is important in the long run. We learned what kind of markets work for our particular books and what sorts of places just don’t. The only way you can figure this out for yourself is by getting out there and trying different markets. Here’s some tips for running a successful market stall. Continue reading »

Jan 212008

Ravenous for a book deal.I published my graphic novel Therefore Repent! in Canada in August, and IDW (who put out 30 Days of Night) just released it in the US last week. I just got a copy of their edition and it looks great: they used a slightly thicker paper stock and a slightly lighter ink, but it’s otherwise pretty much identical to the Canadian edition. Even though I’m best known for writing articles on do-it-yourself publishing, I’ve learnt a lot in publishing with other folks too. So today I’m going to answer one of the questions I get asked the most:

“How did you get a book deal?”

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