Ok, it's Christmas Eve, and hopefully you have something better to do than read my column. And for those of you of the non-Christams-celebratinf-persuasion, well..hopefully you STILL have something better to do than read my column. I really can't imagine otherwise.
Over in Bolts & Nuts, my constant source of inspiration, Forby was chuckling evilly to himself as he pointed out the cold hard reality that Diamond can make or break a new publisher before you even make a sale. Yes, he only states facts, but, secretly, i think he enjoys it.
So, here's my focus this week. How much is too much? I mean, we all know there will be sacrifice involved on the long slow crawl to publishedom, much less the longer slower crawl to break-even-dom, and let's not even get started on the nigh impossible road to success!
So how much is too much? How do you get the word out that your book is there, and try and get people to order your book?
Well, here we are, on a comic news fan-site complete with a forum and reviews, columns, and interiews.
Find sites like us, and send them copies to review. That gets the word out there, and, in the eyes of many fanboys out there, helps legitimize your book. Lots of people who don't work for these sites think that any book reviewed, previewed, or written about on a news site is somehow more "serious". They don't alwyas know that any putz can send us a link, download, attachment, or even actual copy of there comic and in most cases, most sites will review it.
Deviant Art, Digital Webbing, and the like. Sites that let you post your work are great. You can post a few samples (providing your not under contract or any partners are OK with it) and let people see a few pages in order. It's like giving your OWN 6 page preview. DW posters are always saying "I'd read that, " "I'd buy that", or "Where can I get a copy?". If even half of them actually do, you've just upped your sales.
MYSPACE and FACEBOOK. I used to laugh so hard at people who said they got a myspace account for "networking". But, holy shit, that thing works! You can post pics, little previews, information, bulletins, all that promoting for you book, an the only cost is you have to be freidns with Tom! Not only can you drum up interest and sales by using one of those accounts, but you can find a "herd" of other self-promoting self-publishers and independents. Youve heard of safety in numbers? Well, the whole I'll order yours if you order mine can really help get those numbers up.
Start your own website. The plus side to this of course, is you can set it up how you want and promote your book your way. The downsides however, are not only do you have to promote your book, but you have to promote your website, otherwise no one sees either. Also, you have to know HOW to set up a website. An ugly website can hurt actually be counter-productive to you promotions. Or, like me, you can have NO computer skills what-so-ever, and end up with a website that is just a giant placeholder. i have a site. www.sundayknightcomics.com . You can even google it. I have NO idea what to do with it. I can't ever make images stay on the damn thing. At this point, I don't even remember how to use my free godaddy.com account to change it. So basically my company name is up there, and the site name is held for me, but it's not doing anything for me. it sits there taking up cyber-space.
But, enough about my infamously pathetic computer skills.
One thing to remember, if you go through Diamond and are trying to keep above the 3k copies cut off point, when you send news sites review copies, and press releases, when you update your myspace & facebook, when you post on Deviant Art or Digital Webbing, ALWAYS INCLUDE YOUR DIAMOND ORDER CODE NUMBER this way, people can order it at their LCS or through Previews. Sure you can sell them on your own, and I recommend you do so, but many people ONLY buy their books at the shops, and, as Forby pointed out, Diamond will get you to a lot of shops without you having to fork over for all the individual shipping. They still take a huge chunk out of your sale percentage, but the more you are able to sell through them, the easier that is to compensate for.
Other ways to promote, both for right there sales and later though Diamond, are fo course, the cons. Get a booth, bring a ton o' copies. Sign 'em as they sell. Talk about the book to people who stop to look, whether they buy a copy right there or not. leave a few copies with the shops who have booths there. Trade a few copies with others doing the same. Give a few to the Editors and Creators from other companies (including the big guns). Hey, ya never know!
Also, if you create comics you most likely buy comics. If you buy comics you most likely have a few shops your friendly with, from stopping in to buy stuff. Talk to them, let them know, maybe they let you leave a few at the counter to sell. Maybe they talk it up to customers, and even order a few for the shelves. Ask your LCS if you can sign copies at the store, or do sketches on Free Comic Book Day. Get yourself and your book out there. Let comic readers "know" you. Many people will be more willing to pick up a book from someone they feel somehow connected with, than just another unkown up-and-comer.
So, there you have it, you don't have to break the bank to get the word out there and drive up sales, but you do have to break your back! Put in the effort and (hopefully) reap the rewards.
And, if you have any ideas for promoting that I didn't get into here (and there are many) feel free to post 'em. This way we can all try and reap those rewards, eh?
Oh..and Merry Christams, Happy Holidays, or even just Have a Nice Day, if you prefer!
"Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"