by Gary Scott Beatty
Gary Scott Beatty runs Aazurn Publishing, is publisher of “Indie Comics Magazine” and recently wrote the comic book retailer story “Number One.” The first alternative comic he produced (They were called “underground” then) was on his high school’s ditto machine, after hours, without permission. His Xeric Grant Winner “Jazz: Cool Birth,” a jazz club murder mystery, was inspired by ‘50s album cover design. He also colors and letters for the industry. Find out more at Gary Scott Beatty.com.
Maybe you pay a marketing firm to keep your name in the public eye, but most of us indie creators depend solely upon our own devices for promotions.
Becoming savvy about good marketing practices will put you in a better position to compete with the big publishing houses who, let’s face it, will be able to outspend you every time. That means you need to be smart about your time and money. If you take nothing else out of this article, remember this phrase: target market.
TARGET MARKET. Your target market is the market, buyers and potential buyers, of your book. Put thought into who these people are and keep them in mind every time you decide to spend time or money promoting your project.
There are many places to spend money advertising comics. When considering shelling out your hard-earned coin, always ask the question, “Does this reach my target market?” You will be surprised how often the answer to this question is “No.”
Flip it around, and you can use this knowledge of your target market to promote your own books. For example, I chose the name “Indie Comics Magazine” for Aazurn Publishing’s flagship pub because that is exactly what it is: a large publication full of independent comics. Our target market is readers interested in independent comic book stories. I could have called it “Megacosm” or something, but that would not have communicated, simply and clearly, what we are.
That’s exactly what every stage of your marketing should do: communicate, simply and clearly, what your book is. People are too busy and impatient to dig through paragraphs of information. If you make them work at it, they will go away, and your marketing fails.
PARAGRAPH DESCRIPTION. I cannot stress how important it is for you to write and memorize a short paragraph description of your book. In the movie business, this is called a pitch. It grabs your audience and makes them want more.
Short is the key here. Picture you, behind a table at a convention. Someone comes to the table and asks about your book. You reply with one sentence that interests and intrigues them. They ask questions, they open the book to look at it, you make a sale.
Now picture the same scenario. You reply with a comprehensive plot outline naming every character, city and star system in your book. Around the fourth paragraph, their eyes glaze over — and you’re not even into the second chapter.
“Jazz: Cool Birth” is a murder mystery in a ’50s jazz club, with art inspired by ’50s album cover design.
As of this writing, I’m still developing the pitch for “Number One,” a comic retailer story exploring 50 years of comic book history. The tag line is, “Comic shop owner isn't a job, it's a CALLING.” By the time you see an ad, or see me at a convention, I’ll have it down.
This paragraph is every bit as important as the name of your book. Used together, with a “closer” (Where do I buy this book?), they steer potential buyers toward your book.
Do you have your target market in mind? Good. Next are some tips you can use without spending money. They take time to set up, but once they are in place, you have a system that can be added and altered without hardship.
THE LIST. All marketing begins with a list. You can't get more targeted than people who have signed up to hear about what you do. There are many ways to LEGALLY collect emails for your fan list (No one likes spam and if you spam emails, you will drive fans away). Some legitimate websites are set up to help, like MailChimp. The Indie Comics Magazine Fan List can be joined at the website http://indiecomicsmagazine.com/.
Note that the time to start a mailing list is not when you release your book. You need to build a mailing list over time. Today is a good time to start.
Facebook is, essentially, a list that can be used for your marketing. What's great is you can post video, pictures, etc. over time. Schedule posts so you can spread them out over the last three weeks before your release, to reach the widest audience, and keep it entertaining.
I discovered that if I join Groups on Facebook, I greatly expand the number of people who see my posts. Just be sure your posts are relevant to the Group -- read the "About" section before joining. Then, post to your timeline, then "share" that post with your groups. The more "likes" and sharing a post gets, the higher it stays on the page, longer.
Post artwork and/or writing (Strong panels of art are better than whole pages -- make sure they kick!). Fans love to see sketches and preliminary drawings.
Be sure your paragraph description (above) is at the end of anything you post!
CALENDAR SCHEDULE. People tell me all the time how organized I am. I’m really not! I simply keep a large desk calendar with notes on it. I refer to mine every day so I don't skip important tasks.
I have scheduled dates to send news releases, post to Facebook, send to my fan email list, post on chat rooms, etc. If I'm not deep into talking up the latest Aazurn Publishing book, I'm letting potential customers know what I do. There's always something on the calendar!
Review copies and news releases should go out to media weeks before customers can order from Diamond (Note, the date Previews is delivered to comic shops is never the first day of the month!). If your publisher sends news releases, ask how you can help expand their efforts with interviews.
The last two weeks before Previews (or your independent release) is crunch time to reach readers and your fan base -- any earlier and they may forget to order! After Previews is in comic shops, contact retailers you've established relationships with to see what you can do to help them sell books (and convince them to order).
EMAILS AND CORRESPONDENCE: You are in business! Unless you are replying to some rabid fanboy, your full name, email and website should appear on every correspondence (Phone number is up to you). Make it easy for people to get back to you!
Place your paragraph description (above) at the end of all your correspondence, beneath your address and contact information. I save mine on my desktop so I can pull it up quickly and easily. This is the paragraph I've been using:
Order the comic book retailer story Number One in July 2014's Previews comic book catalog, under Aazurn Publishing!
When Diamond lists it, I’ll add the order number. Nothing confusing about that paragraph!
GOOGLE ALERTS. Track when your name comes online with Google Alerts! I have alerts set up for my name and the names of my products. Google sends me an email when their crawlers run across them. Without this I would have never heard about any of my online reviews. I'm also able to respond if someone mentions me in a chat room. You never know where your name is going to pop up online! Honestly, this should be mandatory for anyone tracking their career. http://www.google.com/alerts
There is no secret to marketing. These are the same systems Don Draper had in the ’60s, using modern tools. Be clear, concise, and entertaining, and appear in as many places as you can. Always conclude with a way to “close” the sale.
Spend money if you can, but the free and organizational tips in this article are the foundation for any marketing program. Use them!
Gary has set up Indie Comics Magazine to offer independent comic book writers and illustrators a place to show their work and gain some name recognition in print. Find out more about it at IndieComicsMagazine.com.
Comments on our can be referred to Gary at gary -at- comicartistsdirect -dot- com. All artwork copyright © by its respective artists and publishers.
To find out about how to appear in INDIE COMICS MAGAZINE, Visit Indie Comics Magazine.com and click on Submissions!
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