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View Full Version : I'm published! Now what?


JamesVenhaus
06-01-2016, 04:52 PM
Today I signed a contract with IDW for a 3-issue limited series of my comic, The Night Owl Society. Issue #1 was successfully Kickstarted last year. Now my artist is working issues 2 and 3. It will probably be on the shelf in early 2017.

So, my question is: How do two unknown creators help generate sales for this comic? When the comic is in stores, it will be too late. Retailers will have already placed their orders months beforehand.

So, my plan is to approach retailers when the book is solicited. A fellow creator advised me to make copies of the page in the previews catalog and go from store to store asking retailers to order the book. I'll offer to do a signing for any store that orders x number of copies. But, again, I am an unknown creator, so I'm not sure how much of a draw that will be. And, outside of my home area, how can I generate sales?

Any advice would be appreciated.

sevans
06-01-2016, 08:07 PM
Internet SAMPLES will help.
Speaking as someone that has NO comics stores around them, I like to see artwork samples before I part with any cash.

Previews on relevant websites....if IDW will allow that.

vartemis
06-01-2016, 08:14 PM
Youve gotta start promoting it BEFORE its even solicited. Retailers only have a short window between when Previews drops and their orders have to be in.

paul brian deberry
06-01-2016, 08:59 PM
conventions. podcasts. make a mailing list. mail postcards that have a link to a preview of the comic or the whole thing! give copies to your local libraries.

honestly you're not gonna make much of a splash. right now it's about the eyes on the product and getting MORE work. It's about what you do next.

Stewart Vernon
06-01-2016, 11:38 PM
Youve gotta start promoting it BEFORE its even solicited. Retailers only have a short window between when Previews drops and their orders have to be in.

So much THIS!

Even if Previews ships on time, it's no more than a 30-day window (usually a little less) between when the retailer has the book in his hands and when he has to place his orders. Then you factor in that not every customer comes in weekly, and many customers don't look at Previews and just look at books on the table... and especially if you're an unknown it will be easier to be ignored.

It does help that you're going to be with an established publisher, though... but still... you'd be better served to start pushing your book well in advance of the actual solicitation so that when that month-to-order actually comes, people will be looking for your book in the catalog rather than hearing of it for the first time.

I'd suggest making up some flyer/giveaways too... things you can take to comic shops (or mail to non-local ones) that give a little info about the book and the creators and advertises the "coming in 2017" (or whenever) series.

JamesVenhaus
06-02-2016, 05:12 PM
Thanks for all of the advice. I know that an unknown concept by two unknown creators is a hard sell. So, it is an uphill climb to generate buzz. I had no idea I had to start so early. Thanks for all of your help!

Renae De Liz
06-08-2016, 08:54 PM
Congratulations on both your Kickstarter and your IDW contract! That is so wonderful.

I echo what others have said, you must promote beforehand. And you cannot depend on the publisher to promote it for you. They most likely will not. It is an uphill battle a lot of times. There is so much content out there, unless you have some kind of gimmick or controversial aspect to cut through the noise, it can be very difficult to get attention for your book. If you are focused on promoting your book based on it's quality/story/etc, it takes a longer time to build that base of readers (but in my opinion, the best and lasting way).

I would suggest contacting any and all bloggers, tumblrs, reviewers, etc. that you can and ask if they'd be willing to review a digital copy. Doesn't matter if that blogger has one follower, or even if it's not the best review. If they're talking about it at all, that's a good thing. Also make it known you are available for interviews. A lot of times newbie interviewers are looking for people to highlight, but are too shy to ask people to be interviewed. If you haven't yet, make pages/accounts for your book on social sites and post regularly. Be forward with asking people to check it out but don't spam.

Also, if you are savvy with this type of thing, I would suggest making a simple trailer for the video crowd. People who don't like reading articles but view a lot of videos. Trailers are also great in that they are the one opportunity to express the tone of your story with music (so make sure you pick the right song).

You could also try purchasing ads on various sites. A hundred bucks can get you a good amount of views, just be sure that the message gets across people must go to their comic shop and ASK it to be purchased.

There's more stuff I could say, but this is long already :p Good luck, and congratulations!

JamesVenhaus
06-09-2016, 12:04 PM
There's more stuff I could say, but this is long already :p Good luck, and congratulations!

Thanks Renae, There is no such thing as too much good advice. I can use all I can get.

I had a few blogs review issue #1 when it was Kickstarted, so hopefully they will be willing to review again. I was also interviewed by a couple of podcasts, so I'll approach them as well.

I've also chatted with a few stores in my area (or at least within driving distance) about doing signings when the book comes out. Those conversations are going well. Local stores seems motivated to help local talent. But, getting a store to order 20 or 50 instead of 5 because I will do a signing is great, but a drop in the bucket.

I'm starting to beef up my e-mail list (I'm using MailChimp to help me organize it) and it starts with the 300 or so Kickstarter backers, plus everyone who signed up for my mailing list at cons. My hope to "mobilize" them when the time comes and ask each of them to go to a comic shop and ask that it be ordered when the book is solicited.

Slow and steady seems to be the way to build my reader / fan base.

Sleepbringer
06-23-2016, 01:13 AM
Can you tell us how it happened? I didn't think IDW took blind submissions.

JamesVenhaus
06-23-2016, 06:16 PM
Can you tell us how it happened? I didn't think IDW took blind submissions.

They don't. Editor David Hedgecock was doing portfolio reviews at a local comic-con. I had successfully kickstarted issue #1 so I had that to show him. He gave me his contact info and suggested I contact him in a week or so to do a pitch. I quickly googled "comic book pitch" to get an idea of format, etc. and I submitted a pitch to him that included character designs, a full plot outline, the completed issue #1 and the script to issue #1. He took it to an editorial meeting (the entire editorial staff must approve) and then took it to Chris Ryall and Ted Adams. from the time I met with him until the time I had an offer was about 6 weeks.

Scribbly
06-24-2016, 07:57 AM
Maybe I am wrong. But from my POV, the best thing to do, since you are now an "unknown" author published by an important publisher as IDW, is to keep yourself busy creating and producing more and new material until your name and brand gets established in the market. After that, yes go strong on promoting yourself as author.
IDW and all the big publishers are distributed overseas as well. Half of what they produce goes and is released and sold there. Simultaneously. People overseas, ( retailers and comics fans) may not know you or be part of our small local promotion, but by seeing your book they may/would buy it. Just by seeing the quality of the book on the shelves.
There is not known or unknowns authors but good or bad authors.
Continuity in the production and in the publishing is also the best advertising. IMHO.

As example, I didn't know anything about Kirkman's or the artist working with him until I saw "the walking dead, book one, chapter one" on the shelves of my overseas LCS store. No promotion or advertising whatsoever at the time.
But I saw it and I bought it. Just because I like it. I didn't know that at the same time , somewhere million of comics book fans would be doing the same thing.

JamesVenhaus
06-24-2016, 11:44 AM
As example, I didn't know anything about Kirkman's or the artist working with him until I saw "the walking dead, book one, chapter one" on the shelves of my overseas LCS store. No promotion or advertising whatsoever at the time.
But I saw it and I bought it. Just because I like it. I didn't know that at the same time , somewhere million of comics book fans would be doing the same thing.

What about "The Walking Dead" made you pick up the book? Cover art? Concept? Reading a few pages as you stood in the store? As I browse my LCS I often pick up a book based on the cover. Then, I flip through it and see if it grabs me. But, I can't do that for every one of the 200+ books on the shelf. I usually ask the people who work at the LCS what they are reading. Their recommendations rarely steer me wrong.

And, I know that there is no substitute for quality. If I want a successful book, I have to start with having a good book. But, how I get onto people's radar so that they take a chance on a pair of unknown creators and an unknown concept, is another challenge altogether.

My mailing list is getting a tiny bit bigger every day. (sign up here (http://eepurl.com/b3LXEH), if you like) and I'm reaching out to retailers one by one, asking if they will carry the book. In fact, I may be working with a small group of retailers on a retailer specific variant cover.

And, yes, I am writing other projects so that if I can hopefully build on the momentum of this so it leads to other publication opportunities.

Scribbly
06-24-2016, 03:39 PM
What about "The Walking Dead" made you pick up the book? Cover art? Concept? Reading a few pages as you stood in the store? As I browse my LCS I often pick up a book based on the cover. Then, I flip through it and see if it grabs me. But, I can't do that for every one of the 200+ books on the shelf. I usually ask the people who work at the LCS what they are reading. Their recommendations rarely steer me wrong.

Well, I never asked the LCS clerk about books unless it was something I was particularly looking for.
First, we need to ask ourselves why somebody would go on spend his/her time and money inside a comics store. Almost regularly? Looking for ...what?
Amusement? Curiosity? Entertainment? The unusual?
Comics is an acquired taste. No everybody goes for comics and the ones who do are a very picky audience with high standards to be satisfied. That is a call for concept's originality, and appealing ( Not necessarily great) artwork that matches the story. If the combination of these two elements has good chemistry the result could be a success. Worldwide.
I see the process of buying a comics book as an intimate event.
On comics I go for the TITLE first, then the interior artwork and finally by the whole concept. If "that "book had a different TITLE probably I wouldn't bother for peeking on it.
What we see in interior pages is what really count, the covers , even when important, are not really defining sales. IMHO. Usually awful comics books have great and amazing covers. If after a full reading of the story I got intrigued and satisfied I surely should would go back for more.
The writing is what moves everything but the artwork is the lure.
As in the movies, a big star name or cast could be a lure for attracting audiences but the solid story is the reason for watch the entire movie. Same thing with comics. And BTW, the cost of buying a comics or renting an Oscar's nominee movie is quite similar. So, as audience we always are expecting a good spectacle on each medium.
Congratulations.

Stewart Vernon
06-24-2016, 04:10 PM
The thing is... you have to sell to the retailer as much so, or perhaps more, than to the customer... especially when you are new!

The customer can't walk in and see your comic on the shelf to give it a try if the comic shop doesn't order it! And even from a known publisher, doesn't guarantee they order copies... and even if they do order at least a few copies of each issue from a known publisher... it might be literally that, just a few copies.

IF you want to sell more copies, people have to know who you are. Readers have to know your book is coming (before the order deadline for retailers) so they can ask their shop to order it for them... retailers have to know about it so they will be encouraged to potentially take a risk on you.

It is part continuing what you're doing already, making stuff and spreading it around... then part marketing to retailers and the general public your specific upcoming book.

Scribbly
06-24-2016, 04:34 PM
The thing is, retailers ARE the actual customers. The real patrons who really are putting money out their pockets for buying your book beforehand.
With no returns.

JamesVenhaus
06-24-2016, 06:05 PM
The thing is, retailers ARE the actual customers. The real patrons who really are putting money out their pockets for buying your book beforehand.
With no returns.

I agree wholeheartedly. That is why my retailer mailing list is almost as big as my reader mailing list. I've visited many of the stores in my area, and whenever I am out of town, I visit more. I leave them with the printed kickstarter version of the comic, and ask them to read it. I follow up and try to keep a relationship with each retailer. So, if they like it, and they think their costumers will like it. they will order it. I've offered to do signings / events in stores (So far I have 8 lined up, and the book comes out in March!) and I'll keep going. The big push comes when the previews catalog comes out (or a little before). At that time, I'll remind retailers to order, and ask my readers to go to their LCS and ask them to order it.

The whole marketing process is very grass-roots and very different for me. As a playwright, I try to get press when my play opens so people will buy a ticket. One article in a local newspaper or local TV news can sell dozens of tickets. But, when my book goes on sale, it is too late to do that kind of promotion. By the time the book comes out retailers either have already ordered it or they haven't. Its a whole new ballgame for me.