GU Comics Day: Balancing the books

The past few Wednesday posts have been about zombies, creators, and conventions. But before editors get as far as strolling through artists alley looking for talent, we have to decide what to publish. For most imprints, like Graphic Universe, that means figuring out how to balance different types of books, while always thinking about the particular voice of the imprint and Lerner. Myths & legends, interactive fiction, and ongoing adventure epics have all been in the GU mix. The Manga Math Mysteries series is something a little different, starring a recurring cast of kids who apply math concepts to real-world situations to solve a mystery. As the title proclaims, the art is manga style—the style flourishing here in the U.S. as manga-ka (artists) develop their voices and balance the various traditions of manga from Japan with the sensibilities of artists coming into their own in the 21st century.

I was amused to find articles online that purport to explain exactly how publishers acquire books and the super-secret foolproof way for authors to survive the process (I won’t link to them—such knowledge must be earned through one’s own epic Google-quest). Truth be told, every publishing house has its own method: some casual; others bound up in forms, focus groups, and number-crunching; some that allow for flashes of editorial instinct (“I see teenagers lined up for days to get the next volume! Also, bet on Brobdingnag’s Revenge in the third race.”).

But I do like the articles that describe the editor as the author’s advocate—after all, we wouldn’t bother showing a new project to others in the company unless we thought it had strong legs. I find that acquiring can feel like being a public defender at an arraignment in a fast-paced court. Think of the stereotypical Law & Order episode at about 40 minutes in. There are further metaphors I could extend about bail and the books being released on their own recognizance, but I’ll leave you to develop those on your own.