With Issue Two of our digital comic IN MAPS & LEGENDS now out in the wild, awaiting your download, I have a little time to catch my breath and take a quick look back. (Well, I don’t really have a little time, as I’m jamming away at the script for Issue Four and making tons of notes to issues Five through Ten. But I digress).
I wanted to share some publicity and promotional tips that artist Niki Smith and I have been using to get the word out about our digital comic. You can see some of the results of this work on the PRESS page of our comic’s website.
Here’s a list of the various sites and tools we’ve been using to promote IN MAPS & LEGENDS:
Gotta have a website. Ours is at http://InMapsAndLegendsComic.com, which Niki set up using WordPress, and the site is our virtual headquarters. We use the site to announce the latest issues that are available, share links to all the different places you can download issues, and give you more about the comic if you haven’t read it yet. There’s even a link to a free preview of the opening 8 pages at Comixology.
We also promote two digital comics each month in the footer of the website, as a way to pay it forward. So if you have a digital comic you wanna promote, send me a link in the comments section or via email.
We have a Facebook page for MAPS, where anyone can click the LIKE button and add the page to their Facebook pages. We update the page a couple times a week, sometimes with sketches or finished art from upcoming issues, sometimes with relevant links about the comic, maps, or anything else that pops up. We also spotlight one of our favorite comics out there right now every Friday. So go, join up, and leave a note on our Wall, okay? (As of today we have 211 people who like the page, and it’d be great to see that hit 300 or more.)
Want to set up a Facebook page for your own comic or book? Just click the “Create a Page for My Business” link at the bottom of the MAPS page, and take it from there. Note – Facebook pages are different from Facebook groups; get the explanation here.
Twitter and Facebook are great tools for getting the word out quickly about new issues and other news about our comic, and I especially like Twitter because you can share links to relevant articles or websites. We don’t have a MAPS-specific Twitter profile, but Niki and I both tweet about all sorts of stuff — writing, comics, art, books, and yes, even cats — on our own Twitter accounts. We both try not to be spammy about MAPS stuff, but we do include links to interviews, reviews, and so on, where relevant.
4. Project Wonderful:
I hadn’t heard about this online advertising site before, but Niki gave me a great education in it. Now I use it every couple of days to get ads on a two or three dozen other websites. You can set up graphic ads of all sizes to run on participating Project Wonderful sites, such as other comics sites or writing sites, and people can click the ads to come to your site. Some ads cost a tiny bit per day, but the cool thing is that a lot of the ads are free. It takes a bit to figure out the interface, but if you just do some searching and experimenting with bids of $0 for your ad, you can get some free advertising pretty quickly. Also, as a publisher, we get a revolving series of ads at the bottom of our site (the one on the far left, and the one on the far right).
To get started with Project Wonderful, you’ll need to register at the site. Then you can host ads on your website (as a publisher), and create ads promoting your comics (as an advertiser).
UPDATE: I finally got around to doing a whole blog post about Project Wonderful, including a how-to for setting up free ads.
5. Paid ads:
In an effort to be economical, we haven’t invested a lot of money on paid advertising — you’d be surprised at how pricey ads can be for websites with a lot of traffic. But when we do have some extra change rattling around, we try to do some targeted ads, especially when a new issue is about to come out. We’ve had some good luck with the occasional paid ad with Project Wonderful, and we’ve also run a couple banner ads with TopWebComics. Their site gets a lot of traffic, and for ten or fifteen bucks, we can slap a banner up there and watch the traffic spill over onto our site (which we track with the free StatCounter application, of course).
To learn more about pricing with TopWebComics, check out their Advertising Information page.
6. Press Releases:
As a tool for getting all your critical information onto one “page,” nothing beats a press release. Before each release, I put together a short overview doc written in the “inverted pyramid” style — first paragraph has the crucial information (what’s getting released, when is it getting launched, what’s new or special about this release), with additional info added (in short paragraphs) after the lead paragraph, always with the potential interviewer, journalist, or reviewer in mind. I also try to include a one-sentence “solicit text” that gives a quick synopsis of what happens in that issue.
The best way to explain the press release is to give you a link to the first two releases for MAPS: Issue One and Issue Two. You may want to look into registering, for free, at PRLog.org. The best place to look for who to email and how to email someone at a comics-related site is that site’s About page.
After I’ve got the press release done and up on PRLog.org, I fire up gmail and start customizing the text of the release and sending it out to potential interviewers or article writers. I try to be brief and friendly and not inundate them with too much info. Sometimes I’ll send the whole press release, sometimes a much shorter version, depending on my relationship with the person (have I worked with them before? have we done interviews or articles with their site before? do they have guidelines for contacting them? If so, read em!).
Some folks are super-busy, and they may only have time to do a quick copy-and-paste from the press release/email, so don’t include any spoiler info or “secret” links in that email — that may end up on someone’s website tomorrow!
I do the same thing for reviewers as I do for interviewers and article-writers. A customized version of the press release goes out to people who review comics, preferably on a comics-related site like Comic Book Resources versus some guy or gal writing their own comics blog (although some of those sites can be great resources, so do your reading and check out all avenues).
I include a “secret” link to a site where we have all of Issue One online, in its entirety, for a potential reviewer to quickly check out. I also offer to send the reviewer hi-res PDFs of Issues One and Two, and of course include links to our website.
This is the part that takes some time — Niki and I both track a variety of online forums that discuss comics, digital or otherwise, as well as writing and books and reading devices. I try to add to the conversation and not just jump in every few weeks with a plea to buy our comic. Even though it’s time-consuming, adding comments and tracking multiple conversations, ultimately it’s worth it, because we’re building our readership and adding to the conversation about comics and literature, and not just acting like a spam-bot about our own comic.
This one is the hardest for me to keep up with on any sort of regular schedule — Niki’s much better at it than I am (hangs head in shame and starts logging onto various ebook and comic forums).
10. Guest art:
Speaking of Niki’s contributions, she also adds to the conversation by doing occasional guest art for other comics. Not only does that give us some new Niki Smith art to check out, like her recent contributions to “Steampunk Soiree” and “Honey and the Whirlwind,” but it also gets the word out about MAPS. Other creators are always more than happy to link to your site and plug your comic when you do the same for them.
And ultimately, that’s what it’s all about — enabling everyone to continue working on their comics and books and building a community around our creations. It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of work. I can’t complain.
So… any promo tips you comic and ebook creators would like to share? What’s worked best for you? Thanks!