B&N Week 98: Become A Better Creator–Marketing

| November 6, 2012

Another wonderful Tuesday is upon us! The air has gotten downright nippy [or nipply, depending on how you want to take it], Daylight Savings Time is upon us, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Isn’t it wonderful? I’ve been looking forward to sharing this season with you since the last time.

Also, it’s Super-Tuesday. We get to vote for our nation’s leader, showing how democracy works. My political point of view is simply this: I hope you voted. I don’t care about party, platform, or partisan politics. All I care about is that you participated in the process. Local or federal, your voice will be heard, despite what you think.

Anyway, let’s get into some Bolts & Nuts, shall we?

We’re still talking about becoming a better creator, and part of that is understanding how to market your comics. This is very important.

Marketing comics is really a twofold process. The obvious one is making the comic itself as likable as possible, but the not so obvious is making yourself as likable as possible.

Here are the things you need to know: everything you do, be it Twitter, Facebook, the slight renewed interest in MySpace, Tumblr, Pinterest, your blog, or whatever else comes down the pike in the future—with every single thing you post, tweet, Instagram—with every single thing, you are selling yourself.

If you’re selling yourself, then you should work to make yourself as attractive as possible. Believe me when I tell you that marketing yourself is much more difficult than marketing your book.

In marketing yourself, there are certain things you should not do. Of course you should be yourself, but if you’re a connoisseur of porn, that may not be something you want to broadcast to the world. Keeping that in mind, your public face is something you want to work on.

You don’t want to come across as too down on something, nor do you want to be so straightlaced that you seem inapproachable. You want to try to strike a nice balance of sobriety, work ethic, whimsy, and whatever else it is that makes you special. This is a very hard balancing act to perform. Why? Because we’re living, emotional creatures, and there are times when Life happens.

Something happens, and we get upset. That upset can manifest itself in many different ways: anger, disappointment, fear, loathing, disgust, and whatever else. The problem isn’t in feeling the upset. The problem isn’t even in showing the upset. The problem lies in letting others see the upset.

Everything that you post online is your professional face. Everything. And with that in mind, there’s also something you’ve probably never noticed:

People will see what you’ve been putting out there of yourself, months if not years before your first comic hits the shelves. So if you’ve been putting out nothing but things that make you look unattractive to your prospective readers, what makes you think they’re going to buy your book, no matter how interesting, original, or cutting edge the story may be.

Your self-marketing, oftentimes, can be very damaging. If you aren’t paying close attention to what you’re putting out there, then others aren’t going to be paying attention to you when you start your book campaign.

Your book marketing is something else again. Marketing is ever-changing, especially in the age of super-connectivity. It isn’t enough that you get on Twitter and start hailing it from every corner you can find. It isn’t enough that you have your Facebook friends like your page. [Not unless there are hundreds of thousands of likes, which can hopefully turn into a few thousand sales.]

There are strategies that you can employ to get the word out about your book. You can make a webpage dedicated to it, possibly with a section for sales through Paypal [which is pretty easy to do]; you can do interviews to drum up interest in the book; you can give preview copies to reviewers for them to [hopefully] say good things about the book; you can give preview copies to retailers so that they can be advocates for the book to readers all thinking in the box, and none of it incorrect.

You can also think out of the box. For the second issue of Scam, artist/writer Joe Mulvey   took out a billboard near the Vegas strip in order to promote the book. Got a specific demographic you’re trying to reach? Try reaching them through where they go or congregate: during a Zuda competition, I heard of a creator doing radio interviews, and another did an interview with his local paper.

That’s thinking outside the box. That’s going to where your audience is [or could be].

More thinking outside the box? Do a Kickstarter campaign. This is twofold. Well, multifold, really. First, it will let you know if there’s any interest in your book. Second, it will teach you how to sell your book in different ways, hopefully to include stretch goals. Third, if successful, it will get you money to either complete the book or print it. Fourth, it will show off your creativity and business sense, which should help backers trust you to come through on your end.

Want to be a better creator? You have to market yourself before you think about marketing your book, and even after you start marketing your book, you have to continue to market yourself. You also have to think outside the box when it comes to getting readers to your book. Traditional avenues are great because they’ve been tested over and over again, but they are also avenues that are expected.

And that’s all I’ve got for the week. See you in seven.

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Category: Bolts & Nuts, Columns

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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