Iris Press Interview: Kellie Lynch Speaks
Like most small businesses, OtakuBooty is a labor of love. Because I'm vain and lonely I have a fondness for other small nerds that decided to take a shot at changing an industry instead of just complaining about it on messageboards1.
This is our second interview with such a person. Today we're interviewing Kellie Lynch, whom some of you already know as SunTyger here on OtakuBooty. She recently launched Iris Print and aims to fill a gap in the publishing industry. "I had a few ideas of my own about what the American boys' love publishing industry needed," says Kellie. "Within a month, I'd drafted a business plan and formed the company..."
1 Of course, I still complain on messageboards. The difference is that it's my messageboard now. Which is actually really sad. But this is Kellie's story, not mine.
OB: Lots of us nerds enjoy manga and other comics. What drove you to make the leap from simple enjoyment to publishing your own?
Kellie Lynch of Iris Print: What really made me consider it seriously was when I interviewed for a
marketing job with a manga publisher. I did it on a whim, thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool if...", and they offered me the job on the spot. The job wasn't quite right for me, for a couple of reasons, but it still took me a good week of agonizing to bring myself to turn it down--the job offer was like a nerd dream come true. But that experience made me realize two things: one, that working in the industry wasn't quite the pipe dream I'd thought it to be, and two, that I really, really wanted to do this. I had a few ideas of my own about what the American boys' love publishing industry needed, and within a month, I'd drafted a business plan and formed the company.
OB: Where do you see Iris Print a year from now?
KL: It's so hard to say at this point--Iris's first books were just released, and I've just returned from the company's debut at Yaoi-con in San Francisco. But in a year, I hope to see Iris Print at the forefront of the English-language boys' love industry. It's an underrepresented niche in the market, and there are some very exciting books scheduled for 2007. In a year, I want to be able to say, "If you're into boys' love, you've heard of Iris."
OB: What do you hope to accomplish with Iris Print in the long term?
KL: I want to buy a private island, and hire a Johnny Depp lookalike to rub my shoulders 24/7. But meanwhile, in the real world...I want to raise awareness of the genre in America. I really believe there's a huge audience for boys' love, and all we need to do is get out there and let people know that, hey, this stuff exists, and people are reading it. I'd like to think that one day, you'll be able to walk into your local Borders or Barnes & Noble and see a boys' love section. Maybe it'll only be half a shelf in the grotty back corner of the store, but you can bet there'll be women checking it out all day long.
OB: There's a lot of amateur fiction online. Most of it sucks almost to the point of driving any rational reader to suicide, though there is the occasional gem. Is there an overlap between the amateur and professional writing scenes? Is the amateur fiction scene kind of a primordial talent soup from which the professional market can draw?
KL: Quite a lot of Iris's authors right now also write amateur fanfiction, so there's definitely an overlap there. But even as an editor with a tiny, mostly unheard-of company, I haven't been tempted to scour amateur fiction sites for new material. I can't even imagine how huge the time investment would be to find the diamond in the rough. Mostly, the authors who are serious about getting published will eventually submit their stuff, saving me that pain.
OB: Boys' love comics are something of a specialty market inside the comics market - a niche within a niche. How do you feel about occupying this spot - is it comfortable or constraining?
KL: I'm absolutely happy with it, because it's something I'm passionate about. It's what I know and love, so I haven't at any time felt constrained.
Big thanks to Kellie. We'll be bringing you the second half of the interview on Monday! -Booty
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