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On Promoting Comics

The guts of this went out as a Bad Signal earlier.

So, yes, been busy. Have kept half an eye on things like Diamond changing the way in which they select comics for distribution, people screaming, books failing to get distributed due to above, people choking, bleeding out, etc etc. (Much-compressed version of a Very Big Thing. Googling "diamond comics benchmarks" will get you lots of reading on the subject.)

I am lucky. It is highly unlikely that any book I do in the next three to five years will fail to meet Diamond’s cash benchmark for distribution. Many people — people reading this — may not be so lucky.

So I have this online community, as you are sick of hearing about. I’ve deliberately run it as a quiet operation, just a bit of fun. As noted, it averages 2500 unique member visits a day, and that spikes when supported by warrenellis.com, Bad Signal and Twitter. (Twitter can seriously move some fucking traffic these days.) (Thought for another time: Twitter can move 1000 people from there to here on a quiet day. Much underestimated as a traffic engine, poss. because people are distracted by the way it’s killing blogs and looming over search)

A lot of these people read comics. A lot of these people would like to read comics, but honestly don’t know how to find the stuff they’re interested in. Many have problems actually getting their hands on comics (which is prob another discussion, but still). (And one to have, not just because of the digital implications, but also because comics are a bit shit at search tools, and also because of POD – ref. The DFC, too)

I’ve resisted making Whitechapel too comics-centric, because I like sitting around talking about music and mad science and many other things. But I’m thinking maybe the people reading this who do comics might want to think about putting their comics in front of the
people on Whitechapel, getting some conversations going, seeing if we can generate a bit of electricity here.

It was always a hard slog on The Engine: comics people have resistance to promoting their work, weirdly, and making them do something as minimal as telling people they have a comic out this week was something stupidly hard work. But I have to say that now, when not wanting to tell strangers about your work is not only courting low sales and cancellation, but now also courting not getting your book distributed at all…? Now’s the time to get the fuck over that, really.

Thoughts from the comics creators onboard are welcomed.

Published in comics talk

9 Comments

  1. I actually had a pleasant battle a couple of weeks back with the Marketing Director of one of the 5 big American publishers over this, with my essentially calling him out for failure to perform his hired function and so neglecting 75% of his line.
    Over a dozen books had been canceled this year already, and incompleted mini-series should be an embarrassment to any publishing house. There are dozens of hard-working creators who depend on his duties being at least marginally accomplished. Instead, he sends out the same press releases exhibiting the usual big names (who do not exactly need the help) to the same Uncle Tom sites.
    His response to my actions, after an invitation to call his private line (which I did) was to immediately blacklist my site.

  2. A great many cartoonists got into the field simply because they love to draw or write. The temperament that makes them good artists also can make them naval gazers. I discovered all this early on. A love of drawing in no way made me a natural salesman or marketeer. I was into quiet yet earnest conversations, not trying to make sales over the din of a busy convention.

    I had to get over the reluctance to self-promote, just as have a great many artists who have gone on to be successful. It didn’t happen over night, but, after reading many books on salesmanship, and much experience, I cultivated a persona that, while friendly and not pushy, can inspire people to buy my comics. Honestly, learning to get over myself and my limitations has made me a better artist.

    Selling books online is a different animal, and I’m still learning the tools of conversion, or converting readers into buyers. I’ve read a lot, but I still have a long way to go. I have faith I’ll get there, and that it will make be a better cartoonist.

    Scott (Please visit http://johnnysaturn.com. You’ll be happy you did.)

  3. I was inspired to get something done. I work in visual effects and Hollywood and have been a writer for a couple of decades. So, I got tired of waiting around for Hollywood, the process to get anything sold or created is incredibly stupid and old, and needs a bad overhaul like a 63 Chevy Nova (loved that car).

    And thus “Wireheads” was created. I could always draw and writing is something I do all the time. The promoting, however, is essential. Being a former professional musician, I know that working in a practice room does not get you a job. You HAVE to put it out there.
    And if someone gives advice, you have to review yourself and maybe move in a new direction.

    Project Wonderful is working well for me thus far. I get about 2 to 3 K unique visits everyday, even though I don’t update everyday. So, I feel pretty damn good about that.

    I wish I had the time and money to go to more Cons (eg. Comic-Con is the big one each year for me thus far).

    Plus, as a creator, trying to build an audience, you HAVE to know that it’s a commitment. Your audience has expectations and if you don’t meet them, you will start to lose. And that’s not a good feeling.

    I like the twitter and local blog idea. I think the more you can let the audience “under the hood”, the more they will involve themselves in the world you are creating.

    Cheers.
    – Jimbo

  4. stuzzy stuzzy

    paper is yesterday. If I were making a comic and were concerned about the future and finding a fanbase and distribution I would try to make a webcomic that was compatible with the kindle dx. it’s just a matter of time until newspapers as we know them are gone and you pick up your daily edition on a ebook of some sort. it stands to reason comics will go the same way eventually, probably when ebooks move to color, eventually diamond won’t exist.

  5. I thin that blogging and making use of sites such as Twitter and Facebook CAN be useful in promoting a comic. However, some part of me still wishes I could attend convention. Unfortunately, I don’t live in America so for now, that’s out of the question.

    As for target audiences, if your thing is dark gothic horror with overtones of sex and violence (but still backed up by excellent writing and art) have a peek at Ministry

    http://www.indyplanet.com/index.php?id=1579

    However, if you’re someone who’s easily offended, maybe give it a miss.

    By the by, thank you, Mr. Ellis for giving us an opportunity to pimp our work here and more so, for being an original voice in what has become a sea of mediocrity.

  6. I’ve just reread my post and apologize for any misspellings etc

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