Friday, March 11, 2011

Six Errors New Creators Make in Comic Marketing: Words of Advice from Jim McCann

This is Part Two of a three-, maybe four-part series on the marketing advice former Marvel marketer and now writer Jim McCann (Return of the Dapper Men, numerous Marvel titles) shared with the Creators Workshop over at Comics Experience. Click here to read Part One.

Jim McCann says there are (at least) six common errors new creators make when marketing their comics.

1. Going out too soon. Don’t announce or promote until you have something to show off. Jim says, “If you don’t have a final cover to go with the project and some finished pages, you are not ready.” He recommends an info packet that includes the first six pages. Wait until you have those items, then create a pdf you can e-mail around (see point 3 below); use as flier or promo materials to give to stores and at cons; and post on the Web.

2. Not knowing your timing. Make sure you have factored in time for pre-publishing promotion: the pre-solicit announcements, solicits, etc. Know those deadlines and be ready to go. Get your info packet together (see number 1 above) and promote before it’s in Diamond Previews. (Waiting until Diamond comes out is way to late.)

3. Not knowing your audience. Who makes up the audience you are trying to pull in? And more importantly, where are they? Don’t try carpet bomb all the comics sites with your product. Or, rather, don’t count on your story announcement rising above the clutter. Take a minute to consider who is likely to like (read: want) your story and where can you connect with them. Don’t ignore the mainstream comics websites and fans, but zero in on your readers and possible avenues for press coverage.

Are you writing a specific genre story, say, a Western? Contact sites that promote Westerns—and not just comics. Moreover, find people who are jazzed about Westerns or zombies or whatever niche your story takes place in and get them onboard. Just like you will want to pitch your Western comic to an editor who does Westerns, you want to find reviewers and reporters who have shown an interest in your topic. They’re most likely to embrace something they have an affinity for.

4. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Make your own opportunities. Once you’ve found your “targets,” send write them. Introduce yourself and your book, ask them if they like to cover it. Be sure to send them the promo materials you’ve created or, hey, a pdf of the whole book if you really want to get them onboard.

5. Don’t get lost in the news. First, Jim recommends keep an eye on con schedules. You don’t want to begin your marketing efforts the week before, during, or even after the major conventions. The big publishers use up all the oxygen in the news cycle, and comic news sites have tons of material to post. Time your announcements to hit at a time when they might get noticed. It’s true that con season has become an almost year-round marathon, but here’s the major shows that will step on your promotion: San Diego, New York, C2E2, Emerald City, Heroes Con, and MegaCon (I mentioned this in a previous post if you want to read more). (As a side note McCann does recommend new creators attend both Heroes Con and MegaCon, which are great for small creators.)

Second, don’t release your news on a Friday—it’s a bad day for news because no one is paying attention.

6. Don’t be obnoxious at conventions. Offer people your product, but outrageous costumes and stunts are only going to piss people off. (That’s not going to sell books.)

Click here to read Part One.

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