Mostly Marketing vs Money

posted in: comics, Conventions | 0

(I wanted the trifecta of alliteration in the title)

The other day at the dojo, one of the ladies asked me, “What is the best way to buy your comic and help support you?”

I froze, because I did not (and still do not) have a good answer to that.

There are three ways you can buy comics from us:

  • Directly from us:
    • Pro: We make the most money, because we have no processing fees
    • Con: We’re homebodies, and rarely leave Albuquerque.
    • Con: What are the chances you’ll run into us and want to buy a comic right then and there?
  • From a local store:
    • Pro: it reminds local shop keepers that local comics do sell!
    • Pro: it legitimizes us in a way, and makes it easier for people to find our work if they can’t buy it directly from us.
    • Con: Because of the printing costs of our issues, the only things you’ll find in stores are our books, not our floppy issues, which until we get an Era book, means only AtGT and Vagus.
    • Con: Very few stores will do anything other than “consignment” which is a fancy way of saying we donate our stock to them, and never get paid. Once in a while, a store will offer a consignment rate that is irresistible, but that’s so rare as to not even mention it. (Also, speaking of “rarity,” occasionally a store will flat out buy our stock, which then erases this con. These stores are the best, and I love them!)
    • Con: The only stores we’ve contacted/been contacted by, are local to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. If you’re anywhere else, you’re going to have a hard time finding our books.
  • Digitally
    • Pro: if you buy it digitally, you get it right away and I don’t have to do anything! Yay!
    • Con: if you buy a physical book from Amazon, then they take a little bit of a cut (but only a little one so far)
    • Con: If you buy a physical book from Amazon, then I have to go the post office, and I am terrified of the post office. (But I’ll do it if I have to!)
    • Con: Because of their processing fees (even though it’s only a little one) I can only sell the books (not the issues) physically through Amazon, which again, means only AtGT and Vagus.

Mostly what I take from all of this is that I have no idea what I’m doing.

Okay, so that’s the… er.. “money” part of the post, so you know how I’m not making money. Marketing is… related? Unrelated? I feel so terrible: I went to school for graphic design and they forced us to do marketing research course, and it was the worst thing ever! I hated it so much that my grades dropped (I think I got a “B” for the course, or something awful like that!)

My entire comic book marketing plan has been (and continues to be) MAKE MOAR COMICS!

I suspect that’s not the path to success I want it to be.

I read a lot of articles/blog posts by indie writers and listen to a lot of podcasts about how to market ebooks. I keep thinking maybe “ebooks” are similar to “comic books” but I’m not sure if that’s true or not. (Seriously, if you know about this stuff, help an idiot out and tell me!)

Basically, I think the advice boils down to:

  • Write a series (check)
  • Publish them digitally (check – I’ve been doing these as webcomics for ages, and am now putting them on Amazon)
  • Drop the intro book price to permafree* (Sorta-check: I can’t figure out how to do this  yet, but I DID get dumblucky with the price matching dropping Era #1 to 99 cents)
  • Have a call to action (CTA) at the back, urging readers to review it. (Sorta-check: I did that, but I couldn’t get html coding to work, so… it may not work as well as I hope.)
  • Write more, and write like the wind (I suck at this. It takes me so long to draw stuff.)
  • Also there seems to be stuff about getting a newsletter together (check) and building a platform (I think that’s a website? If so… check? Although it could be a social media platform, which then… uncheck because the only thing I do is twitter.)

I’ve been trying to adapt as much of this to selling comicbooks as I can, but I’m, well, I’m not all that social media stuff. I mean, I sort of chat to myself on twitter, or if I can think of something short to say to someone in my feed, but other than that, I’m pretty much isolated in my studio.

Another thing I’ve been wondering about is, why should anyone bother buying any of our comics?

The few times I’ve told people they can read the comics (in their entirety) they almost always ask me, “How do you make money from that?”

Short answer: I don’t.

Long answer: Well, I mean, I guess I could put ads or something on my website, but that seems so tacky. And honestly, I don’t think people really read comics at my site (my jetpack stats are, well, kinda low. I couldn’t in good faith sell ad-space on my site. Like, six people looked at my site the other day.)

So what’s the point of having free webcomics on your site?

Having the free webcomics on our site allows John and I to tell people that if they want to check the book out online first and see if they like it, that’s cool with us. There’s a confidence that I feel, knowing that our comics are good enough that you’ll want them after you read them. (And it has worked a few times: we’ve had a few people see us at the start of a convention, take a card, read our comics, and then come back on the last day of a convention and buy our stuff! It’s super encouraging!)

On the other hand, now that we’re trying to sell our comics digitally on Amazon, I’m left wondering if maybe we should pull everything but the content for each “first issue,” that way people don’t get mad that they’re paying money for something that is (in a way, if you don’t mind staring at my website) “free.”

The way I tried to compensate for that was to put a heads up in the back of the digital comic issue saying, “While we know you can read this for free, we really appreciate you dropping us a dollar or two!”

And it’s true, we really do appreciate it. We don’t make much money from Amazon, but knowing that our work is at least worth a dollar has been incredibly flattering (and encouraging, which, we all need more of.)

Sorry this post is too long. I ramble a lot.

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