So you’ve started your comic. You’ve been going for a while, built up an archive and printed a few issues. Great!
3. Tell People!
Now it’s time to get people looking at your work! If you’re like most, drumming up attention for your comic can be hard. Even the most outgoing person can find the idea of selling your own work daunting. The advantage is that Indie Comics are small and intimate! You’re not a big corporation with a giant advertising budget, and you shouldn’t act like it. Instead of flashy ads or blaring slogans, think about making friends. With Indie Comics, readers aren’t just customers. They are people invested in your art and story, who support you with hard-earned money and love your work enough to share with their friends.
Jason Brubaker compared building a readership with building a tree. “Just remember, you can’t build a tree in one day or a week or even a month. You have to help a tree grow. Well, you can build a fake tree that will look like a tree but it won’t grow on it’s own and bear fruit like a real tree.” Reach out to people through Facebook, strike up conversations on Twitter with comic creators, post to Tumblogs devoted to comics (like fyeahindiecomics), go on comics forums online. Meet fellow comic creators in your area by attending or organizing meet-ups. Visit local comic book stores and ask if they’ll carry your work.
Some people just make comics and hope that if they are brilliant enough, they will just be discovered. That works sometimes. Many comics became popular after being mentioned by a bigger comic or getting reviewed. Wouldn’t it be great if your comic got that attention? Definitely! It’s pretty simple too. The secret is to let people know you exist. Contact review sites and ask if you can send in copies of your comic. Send a friendly email to your favorite artists sharing your work. Do anything it takes to get your comic noticed. The best way to tell people about your comic is just that…tell people.
4. Never Settle!
Getting people to read your comic or visit your website is the easy part. Keeping those readers and making fans out of them…that’s hard! It’s impossible to predict or control how people will respond. You may have placed the ad with your target audience in mind but if they’re not interested in your genre or style, they won’t stay.
What you can control, however, is the quality of your work. “Marketing will help bring new eyes to your site . . . people don’t generally STAY on the website unless there is more to keep them interested.” (ShadowMyst) If your perfect audience stops by; they may leave if your comic isn’t updated regularly or the quality is lacking. Always have something new to show. If you’re a webcomic, you can post sketches, have a blog, wallpapers etc. I first met Reed Gunther creators, Shane and Chris Houghton, in 2009 when they had three issues of their comic available for sale. I met them multiple times over the next two years. At each convention they attended, they always had new mini-comics to keep people interested between new issue releases.
Eventually, you will find a formula that works. A style you like, an attractive format, a voice that comes naturally. Don’t let yourself fall in a rut. As you master some skills, keep improving others. Take an anatomy class to brush up on drawing people or write a story in a genre you hate. In an interview with Willamette Week, Daniel Clowes was asked if he ever got bored with making comics. “. . . with Velvet Glove, I had to keep that style going for 150 pages, and that got really tiresome.”
The freedom of Indie Comics allows for continual growth, both personally and creatively. Use this to your advantage and never settle on what you only think is the best you can do.
Next week: Magical Secrets to Comic Fame & Fortune pt 3 (The last!)
Sheika Lugtu lives on the internet and draws comics just for you at OMGcow.com. Ask her stuff or just say hi via email.