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Interview with Campbell from Rosarium Publishing

Posted on April 15, 2016 by Flames

Rosariumpublishing.com, which was established in 2013, recently launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help cover printing costs for their books, comics, and graphic novels. In today’s interview, Monica Valentinelli sits down with founder Bill Campbell to ask him about his small press publishing house.

What challenges have you encountered as a small press publisher since establishing Rosarium Publishing in 2013?

Manticore - Keith Miller - Ian Gabriel - 9780996769242Too many to count. Ha! I guess, though, and this is true no matter who you are or what you’re trying to do, the biggest problem starting out is being taken seriously. There’s so much stuff out there—so much good stuff—and people generally go with what they know. So, it takes a lot of hard work and hustle and actual good work to convince people that you’re worth their time. I often tell artists that, as hard as creating is, the really hard part is going out there and selling your stuff.

If you had to establish your publishing company all over again, what would you do differently?

Be born rich!

Have you had any luck getting your titles into comic or book stores?

Well, we have a distributor, Independent Publishers Group, so, since they’ve taken us on, getting into stores has been a lot easier. They’ve truly been great. Comics is a completely different beast because Diamond is a global monopoly. If they decide, for whatever reason (and those reasons can be quite arbitrary), they don’t want to carry you, they simply won’t, and you’re frozen out of damn near every comic book shop in the country. It doesn’t matter how good you are.

Is there a secret behind the name “Rosarium”?

Oh, there’s really no secret here. My daughter’s name is “Rosa.”

Many of your comics, like Chadhiyana and Blue Hand Mojo, have a darker feel to them. How do you feel your comics fit into the horror genre?

Chadhiyana Vol 1 - JM DeSantis - 9780996769266I’m not sure how it happened, but we’ve got a bunch of horror comics going on. Chadhiyana is a bit of a dark fantasy set in a mythological India. Blue Hand Mojo is a “hoodoo noir” set in 1930s Chicago. Manticore is prison horror (and a lot of fun); C21st Gods is a modern-day Lovecraftian tale; Flatbush Yard would be an “obeah noir”; Sheree Renee Thomas is developing a horror comic with us; and, of course, DayBlack is about a vampire tattoo artist. These must be some very frightening times. Ha!

You have recently announced the Arctic Rising comic, which is an adaptation based on Tobias Buckell’s novel. How did this come about? Do you have any more adaptations planned for the future?

A couple years back, I was emailing Toby about something. I can’t remember what, but he was in Mothership: Tales of AfroFuturism, so let’s say that. I just offhandedly mentioned to him that I thought Arctic Rising would make a really fun comic since it’s so action-packed. He immediately said, “Let’s make it happen.” Well, anybody in comics can tell you, it takes awhile to find an artist, but now that we’ve found one, we’re making it happen.

There’s another book I’ve had my eye on for a couple years, but the author doesn’t even know I want to adapt her book. Acquiring rights can be a very tricky proposition (Toby and his agent, Barry, have been absolute godsends in this department), so, at this stage, I’d probably shy away from adaptations. Right now, I’d prefer to get some of these book writin’ folk to start writin’ comics. In the future, though, who knows?

If you had to recommend a comic book fan one issue to try as a sample of what you have to offer, which one would it be and why?

Well, for us, “diversity” also means subject matter. We have all kinds of comics from slice-of-life to horror to superhero. So, it would really depend on what they’re looking for.

Why is multiculturism important to you?

I don’t know. I guess it was important to me before I even knew the term. My mother’s American and my father’s Jamaican, so I was brought up between different cultures. I’ve always been friends with first or second generation kids. My hometown, Pittsburgh, is filled with every European ethnicity there is. It’s always been around me—the different languages, the different foods, the different stories. I mean, we live on a planet with over 7 billion people with thousands of living cultures. So, to me, multiculturism isn’t a marketing strategy or a cause, it’s just the way the world is.

What’s the best way to support your publishing efforts?

DayBlack Vol 2 - Keef Cross - 9780996769235That’s always a tough one, because you’re asking people to become “activist consumers.” There are more and more of those out there because mainstream culture is falling short in so many areas. We have Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook, of course. People can sign up for our newsletter on our site. The easiest right now, though, would be our Indiegogo campaign. We’ve outgrown print-on-demand and are trying to move to offset printing, which means suddenly having to print thousands of books. Our current campaign is called Rosarium Publishing: The Next Level. We’re hoping that this new campaign will help us get there.

Part of the goal behind your IndieGoGo is to fund print runs for your books. How will a successful campaign impact your business?

Immensely. See, print-on-demand was perfect with how we started out, which was with a fascinating (at least to me) idea with absolutely no money. But POD is really expensive. Per unit costs never go down. So, if I print 5, 500, or 5 million, the cost remains high. With store discounts, distributors fees, and returns, you wind up with little to no money from selling your books. This campaign allows us to lower our costs and hopefully make a little money to basically be able to publish more writers and artists. One doesn’t become a small publisher in the hopes of getting rich. Ha!

Where can we find you on the web? At cons?

Rosariumpublishing.com, rosariumpublishing.tumblr.com, and @RosariumPub for starters. You can find our books and comics on Amazon.com, etc., of course. You can also find our comics at Peep Game Comix and ComiXology. Cons? That always depends from year to year. In May we’ll be at TCAF in Toronto, ECBACC in Philly, and WisCon in Madison. The rest of the year I’m not sure. I know we’ll be at WorldCon and MICE, but that’s about it. I thought we’d play it by ear.

Lastly, if you could pick one writer to publish, past or present, who would it be and why?

Who wrote the Bible? Have you seen the sales numbers on that bad boy?!

Thanks to Bill Campbell, founder and publisher for Rosarium Publishing, for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Be sure to check out this small press publisher’s books, comics, and graphic novels–especially if you’re interested in horror comics with a different flair!

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