Well, folks, it’s been a week and a half since Polaris 26, the final Polaris to be held in traditional con format, and it’s time for the most sacred of traditions: the con report. I know I usually have at least a couple of complaints in these things, but this time, aside from things discussed previously that I’m going to let lie, I had an absolutely smashing time. Granted, I wasn’t quite as active as usual, having committed to running my booth full time, but the fact remains that, if fun is the measure, Polaris 26 was the best con I’ve been to in a few years. Too bad it’s slated to be their last. I don’t agree with the format changes, but some people do, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll start my own con to fill in some of the holes Polaris Classic left behind. Don’t think I haven’t thought of it.
Shout outs to Rob St. Martin, for the awesome book trade (I should note that I devoured it already), Tim Carter, for reminding us that God Hates Bags (especially the plastic kind that clog up landfills), and the guy in the Planet of the Apes gorilla soldier costume for totally making my day with his vintage excellence. If anybody knows this guy’s name, please do tell me in the comments so I can give him the credit he deserves… That costume was bang-on.
In other news, since this is around the time things started to get swinging for Pop Seagull publishing last year, I thought it might be nice to do a once-yearly check-in to let customers and friends know how far we’ve come, and give people some idea of where we’re going. At this time last year, Pop Seagull Publishing was merely a big dream crammed into my (relatively) little head. Then, thanks to a lot of encouragement and some timely mentoring and start-up funds from the Ontario Summer Company Grant Program, I was able to turn my dream of starting a modestly sized local publishing house into a reality. I can’t thank the folks in the Ontario government enough for their help in all this. It’s opportunity grants like this one that make possible so many innovations, and I’m glad I live in a Province and a country that supports opportunity, especially for young people.
Over the past year, I’ve learned how to make my own website, produce, price and sell quality books (although, think, quality must always be a work in progress to some extent), and what kind of content customers enjoy and want to read. Luckily, yes, this does include at least some of my work. I also learned that quality books take time, something that, as an author who had only seen a third, at most, of the book production process first-hand before this, I really needed to learn in order to keep production estimates reasonable and understand my own time commitments better. Luckily, I also learned that all the hard work is worth it, and that our wonderful customers are out there supporting indie products like ours and yes, even longing for more. There’s nothing, for me, like being able to share my work (and, in future, the work of talented others) with fans, and discuss things that previously lived only in my head with wonderful, thinking, feeling human beings. Yes, this trumps money for me. So thank you, everyone, who gave my little business a chance.
During this year, Pop Seagull Publishing also added a few new friends to our list of contributors. I started Pop Seagull with the intent of running it alone for the first few years, at least, but over the course of this year I’ve received more help than I ever dared ask for. Jenn Bickley has joined the team as assistant editor and convention support (look for her blog posts appearing here soon) and Leonard Doxtater has provided lots of practical help, sales experience and advice. Thanks, guys, for all of your help, wisdom and moral support in this first, at times uncertain year. I also want to thank my husband, Robin McLean, for his own sage advice and common sense.
So, now that we’ve recounted our progress this year, it’s time to think about next year. On that note, I have some good news, and some bad news.
The good news is about our success, and our future survival. We are doing well as a business, building ties and reaching more people than ever before. Pop Seagull Publishing is going to go on for another year, promoting our current titles and possibly making some improvements to them.
The bad news for those who are waiting for new titles is that I don’t foresee any new material coming out in the near future, possibly at all this year. The reason for this hiatus is that Pop Seagull is still mostly a one-woman show, and this woman is going to be exceptionally busy for the next eight months designing, directing and animating her very first short film. This film has deep and far-reaching implications for me, and for my career as a whole, and I have learned the hard way that the only way to do something right is to focus and give it your all. Someday soon, that same focus will turn to Pop Seagull Publishing again, but until then, I will not, in all likelihood, have the capability either to produce my own new material or manage other talent.
What does this mean we will be doing next year? Well, there will still be lots of interesting things going on with me, and with the company. We will continue to promote at a limited number of fandom events, the current titles will still be available online, and we may end up using this hiatus to put out revised and improved editions of the current titles. I will also be posting periodically about my film’s progess, so there will be a lot more art and animation posted around the blog. The film’s production will be an interesting ride that no one is going to want to miss.
I’m also not ruling out that Pop Seagull could see an astounding level of productivity at some point this coming year and make some surprise announcements that would please everybody (aka new titles) but I feel, in the spirit of honesty, that customers should expect a production hiatus and hope for new material, rather than the other way around. Last year at school was extremely stressful for me, to the point of my needing months to decompress after it was all over, and I absolutely can’t make any promises knowing that it’s possible I could walk right into the same situation in the coming school year. But hey, after this year, I’m free to pursue my own ends, so things will be looking up.
Thanks to everyone who’s read this far, and I look forward to seeing even more of you in the coming year.