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April 20, 2015
By Drucilla Shultz
The co-founder of Locust Moon Press urges indie authors to believe in their work and reach out to readers.

According to Josh O’Neill, co-founder of Locust Moon – a comics shop and small press in Philadelphia -- the idea for the comics anthology he edited, Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream came about three years ago: a collection of new comic strips created in homage to early-20th-century artist Winsor McCay and his famous newspaper strip “Little Nemo in Slumberland.” In fact, O’Neill calls the book “a love letter to one of the most important American artists, and to the infinite possibility of the comics page.”

From the beginning, the project received enormous support from the comics community, and Locust Moon worked with 140 top cartoonists and artists to bring the book to life. Publishers Weekly gave Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream a starred review, saying that the “dazzling contributions reinterpret the visual splendor of McCay’s masterpiece without slavishly copying it” and calling it “more than just a book, this is a treasure—the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Locust Moon Press had already independently published a few works (including the Harvey Award-nominated Once Upon a Time Machine), but O’Neill and his team knew they were going to need additional funding to print Little Nemo in full color and at the size they wanted: 21 in. by 16 in. So they turned to Kickstarter, did a lot of research, and even launched a smaller campaign as a dry run. All their work paid off because by the time the Little Nemo campaign had finished, Locust Moon had tripled its original goal of $50,000. O’Neill is adamant about the importance of crowdfunding, calling it “the future of publishing.”

“It's a democratic way of funding creative projects, and it makes amazing things possible,” he says. “The old models are breaking down. There won't always be a need for this massive framework of funding, promotion and distribution. People will be able to speak directly to their audience, without having to submit to someone else's delivery mechanism and pay their toll.”

"If you don't believe that what you're doing is important, then you're just another sweaty salesman."
Here are O'Neill's three tips for self-publishing success.

Find Your Audience

“Figure out who you think your audience is, and find the most direct ways possible to reach out to those people. Call them on the phone. Hell, knock on their door.”

Get Involved

“Be open with your supporters – invite them behind the scenes, into your process. They aren't your customers – they're your fellow travelers. The interchange between you can lift everyone up.”

Believe in Your Work

“We were very hopeful and optimistic about the prospects of the campaign, but we were stunned at the incredible groundswell of support. It really felt as though the whole comics industry had suddenly united to honor Winsor McCay and celebrate the brilliant artists who'd paid tribute in our edition. We could never have imagined that level of passion. It was magical…Only make work that you believe in with the white-hot passion of a collapsing star. A soul-scouring grind of non-stop self-promotion lies in front of you. If you don't believe that what you're doing is important, then you're just another sweaty salesman.”