A Scribbling Lion is a fiercely creative, productive creature, always on the hunt for another astounding experience from which to source more art. In more precise terms, it references TSL’s owner, Leona* R Wisoker. (She considered calling the business The Scribbling Lioness, but it just didn’t flow properly when spoken aloud. She’s got a sensitive ear for that sort of thing, you know.)
* Why yes, Leona does mean lion. However did you guess? 😀
A More Precise, But Longer, Answer; Also, A History
As Leona’s own writing career has unfolded over the years, she’s noticed a pattern of up-and-coming creative types having to arrange/beg shared table space at conventions, usually on a consignment basis. While consignment and/or shared tables make perfect sense from a business standpoint, Leona has always found it just a teeny bit humiliating and not very productive besides–usually, the other folks involved hadn’t read her work and thus had no real handle or interest in marketing it. The only way to sell, then, was to be at the table every spare moment–and lord-of-light, a ligature of increasingly desperate authors clustered around a single sales table is a terrifying sight by Sunday afternoon!
There’s always hand-selling, of course, but that involves dragging books all over the convention with you. Not ideal, also slightly embarrassing at times, and often a significant source of back strain.
There has to be a better way, says she, and came up with The Scribbling Lion.
Initially, the concept was to gather together a group of the fantastic folks she’d been meeting at conventions–the folks who always seemed to be hand selling, or sharing tables, or doing a consignment arrangement with established booksellers. Folks whose works were so freaking amazing, innovative, inside-out, and exceptionally well-crafted, that they deserved ever so much more attention than they were getting. The initial idea, then, was to gather these beautiful people into a team that would cross-promote, encourage one another, and work together at conventions as a support team: sharing meals, bringing one another water, spreading the word about one another’s appearances, etc etc. And Leona, as the head of the team, would take on a table in the vendors room at convention and act as OrganizationalCat and SalesLioness: pushing, promoting, advocating for all team members (and especially those who happened to be at the same convention). She would buy the inventory directly from the author/artist/musician at a mutually agreed upon price and resell it both online and at said conventions at a high enough price to cover expenses while still being low enough to ensure rapid turnover. The Team would push traffic to TSL, and TSL would push traffic to The Team. It sounded like a great concept. There was lots of positive feedback. Much excitement.
And then …
(Those of you who saw this coming have permission to laugh your asses off.)
Online sales became zero. The Team (including Leona) became distracted by other matters–family, health, and financial crises abounded. Leona was unable to attend as many conventions as expected, and vending tables proved harder to get and much less profitable than they needed to be. Team members weren’t able to coordinate on sharing hotel rooms, meals, traveling, or any of the other Great Money Saving Ideas they’d all discussed so excitedly months before. Exciting new inventory was proving difficult to bring in, because old inventory wasn’t moving out of the way.
At tax time, 2015, Leona was left staring at a very large financial hole where she’d expected at least marginal profit to be. The Scribbling Lion was classified as a “hobby business”–a tremendous psychological blow, and one that sent her, quite frankly, into a series of anxiety/depression attacks.
As she began to climb back onto her feet–because screw that shit, I’m a lion, I’m not staying down!–she began realizing that one of the biggest problems The Scribbling Lion had developed was a case of too complicated to live. She’d been trying to make it be so many different things that it had floundered into a shapeless, muddy mess.
So as of July 2015, The Scribbling Lion has gone on a diet. A high-protein diet, if you will–one that focuses on the absolutely most important thing and cuts out all the rest. And that one important thing?
Is making money.
What–did you think the answer was going to be something about promoting creativity or supporting fellow writers or creating community?
No. Those concepts will always be a part of the background, because Leona cares deeply about them. But they don’t belong on the front page, and they don’t belong as part of the target. Other people, other businesses, frankly handle promotions and community-building much better than TSL.
This business is going to focus on making money on sales of lesser-known works by writers and musicians (not artists, any longer, because that attempt has been, flatly, a bust)–without compromising Leona’s high standards regarding quality, ethics, originality, and honesty.
And if, by the end of December 2015, a specific financial target has not been reached … then in January 2016, The Scribbling Lion will quietly, and with deep regret, close as a for-profit business, and Leona will mourn the venture as a very expensive, very stressful learning experience.
She will grieve, and she will hide for a while, and then she will get the fuck back up and try something else. Because that is the most important, most fierce, and most creative thing that Scribbling Lions can possibly do.
If you wish to donate to The Scribbling Lion, there is a donation jar at the bottom of the page. Any amount is deeply appreciated. Purchasing inventory from our shop is, however, even more deeply appreciated….