This is the third of a three-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 below to read Parts 1 and 2.
I've been recounting the valuable marketing advice writer and former Marvel marketer Jim McCann shared at a recent forum I attended. Jim gave out a lot of valuable information on how the little guy can market like the big guy. And, yes, a lot his tips assume you've been lucky enough to get into Diamond Previews, but the advice still applies to self-published comics. Whatever your marketing strategy is and however much or little your willing to spend or do to promote your magnum opus, Jim has one big piece of advice: Really hit the need for people to make pre-orders. In every interview and post, or on every press release or promo piece, tell where or how the book is available. If you do have a Diamond order code--that should be all over your marketing efforts.
Let's face it: Most retailers' and readers' ordering habits are set. They order from the big 4 or 5, and don't pay much attention to the back of Previews much at all. Even if you get yourself a glossy half-page ad, it's not likely to be noticed. If retailers don't order copies of your book, the new reader you are trying to reach, won't ever see the book on the shelf.
Okay, so that out of the way, let's focus on his tips for your three-part media push.
1. Books shouldn't break in Previews. You need to get the word about your book out there 3 months before it appears in Previews. It's difficult to get a listing in Previews if you are self-publishing--and if you're lucky enought to get an ad, don't count on the listing itself to get much notice. By the time Previews is in retailers hands, it's probably too late to get their attention. If they've heard something about your book, a listing may jog their memory and spur them to order. But if your ad is the first time they are hearing about your book, it probably won't even register.
If you're a small creator just starting out, it's important to repeatedly tell people how they can get the book: give your Website out whenever you can. Also be sure to tell people where they can get your book if it's for sale somewhere. Tell everyone you can about your book. Early. And often.
2. Hit with a big marketing push around solicit time and again at FOC. Okay, so you've been making the media rounds, hustling at conventions and even finagled a way into Previews. Next, you need to make a big push when the solicits are released by your publisher. Your talking points need to drive home the idea that retailers and readers should pre-order. Make another push around Final Order Cut-off (FOC). This is the last chance the local shop has to change their comics order.
If you're not in Previews, there's still something you can do. Hopefully you've created some sort of marketing plan. Three months before you plan to release the book, launch a big marketing push. Go big with your marketing efforts, whatever they are (tease with some art, maybe a cover preview), etc.). Get the word out. If you're going to debut it at a con, make sure you make that part of the story.
3. Lay low until 1 month before release. Jim suggests you cool it for a bit, but then strike again a month before your book comes out; and go even bigger the week before.
McCann's third point applies whether you're in Previews and bankrolled by a giant PR budget or printing your books at the copy center: make sure you are getting the word out there. And while you're doing that--remember: Set your book apart--make it stand out from what's on the shelves already. Get readers to want your book.