I know those of you planning to head out to the San Diego Comic-Con are still bummed that it’s cancelled this year. You better believe I still am. I mean, definitely the right call given the world we’re in right now, but still sucks to be sure.
But even still, trying to find silver linings, those of you who hit the con to try and break-in, we got another year to put work together for our portfolios. I’m personally grateful for the extra time. No matter how early I plan for personal initiatives, it always seems to come down to the wire. So, in this case, the extra time is definitely a bonus to be sure.
One thing I like to do after every SDCC is post notes I get from meetings and portfolio reviews. My hope is that it might help other aspiring creators who can’t make it to the con to give them outlooks to apply to their own work.
This time, posting my notes from the 2018 trip. Why not 2019? Well, that’s a story in it of itself, but short answer, no notes from last year to share. But below, you should find the notes for 2018. If memory serves, they were from a number of marketing panels. So those of you who self-publish your work, I hope this will be a benefit for you in getting your work out there.
And it just doesn’t apply to self-publishers. For all of you aspiring creatives, definitely think about how these notes might be helpful in simply building your audience and brand awareness.
In any case, check out the notes (in bold) below:
Have a Product Ready for Market
Before anything, finish your comic. Or at the very least, depending on the planned length of your title, have enough issues in the bag to where you have enough lead time to keep your book on schedule. When you’re marketing your book, no one wants to see “in-progress” work. Save that for social media to build brand awareness & excitement for your project.
Why is Your Comic Good for New Readers?
It’s funny, I’m in the middle of writing a comic about a “solopreneur” life, and part of that is talking about the idea of “passion versus purpose”. And in this case, obviously creating comics is your passion. But for “purpose”, that’s where you apply it to your potential readers. What purpose does your comic serve for new readers? Is there a need in the marketplace for your comic?
Essentially, is the type of content your comic provides missing from the market, and is there a need for it for readers? That’s something you should figure out. Because if you can’t determine a need, that might be a non-starter with your title.
Have an Elevator Pitch
We all know what an elevator pitch is, that idea you have an opportunity to pitch your idea to someone of influence in an elevator & only have the elevator ride to do it. So, something short and sweet to hook whomever you’re talking to learn more.
But having an elevator pitch is not only helpful on the off chance you have to pitch someone, but it’s also helpful to have in a number of other aspects as well. A great example is crowdfunding. Sites like Kickstarter are definitely a go-to for self-publishers to get funding to print their books. And the idea is same here, in the initial description for your project, you have to hook potential backers. They’re not going to read some long bit to only find out it’s meaningful at the end.
Hook them at the beginning with your elevator pitch and make them want to read more.
Have an Introduction to Your Press Release
Personalize your communications for your comic. Just don’t leave it at, “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”. Craft your release to whomever you’re sending it to. Make them feel like more than just someone on your mailing list.
Have an EPK (Electronic Press Kit)
This was one note from the 2018 SDCC that I didn’t quite get. In terms of comics, one would imagine that providing a digital version of your comic, along with your press release and email would be more than enough for press & critics to run with.
But regardless, crafting an EPK that’s relevant to your project could definitely help you stand out from the crowd. Definitely think about what shape that might take.
Fill in the Blanks
Be it your press release, EPK, or any other communication, whatever that package takes, make sure you fill in the blanks. Definitely answer any potential questions your recipients may have regarding your project.
Retool Your SPAM
SPAM is probably the wrong word to use here, but definitely rethink your email communications. Be it to press & critics, or your audience as a whole. Make sure the content is a benefit & relevant to your mailing lists. Don’t just put out content for content sake without thinking about who that’s going out to.
THAT would be SPAM. Nobody likes SPAM.
Reach Out to a Retailer Influencer
Now, “retail influencer” was a term a panelist used. But essentially, they were talking about your local comic book shop and community. Reach out to your local comic shops, talk to the owners, see what they think of your book. Offer them discounts, or a generous profit share to carry your book. If you get their seal of approval, building positive word of mouth for your comic can be the only result. And that’s not a bad thing. So definitely get involved with your local comic shop & community.
Promote Your Own Product
I know this whole thing has been about promoting your product and yourself. But this is just a note about going that extra mile. An anecdote a panelist used was that back in the day at SDCC was that peddle taxis were super cheap to advertise on, and he used that to build his audience during the show. Peddle bikes are everywhere, and a captive audience of over 100,000 people he wanted to reach at his fingertips. Safe to say that the benefit he received in return was ten-fold.
So, look for those opportunities where you might make use of unconventional tactics to promote your work. At the very least, you can get the word out. Something that’s very doable is getting t-shirts made through sites like Zazzle to promote whatever project you got going on.
Well, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. I hope this sparked some questions and thoughts to push your work forward. Best wishes on your work!