Here at downthetubes.net we get a lot of press materials from a wide range of comic creators and publishers. Some of it is very good (thank you, 2000AD, Improper Books, SelfMadeHero, Titan Comics and Jim Alexander in particular, to name but a few who sent us information in the last week). Some of it is dreadful.
I thought it might be useful to outline some thoughts on Marketing Your Comic as a creator as part of our ‘Creating Comics’ strand. In this post, here is some advice on the perhaps most useful and underrated way to get the word out about your title – a Press Release.
I’m constantly amazed by the number of creators who don’t write press releases or supply imagery to the major comics news sites. Yes, some sites may well ignore indie titles in favour of press from big companies that will generate more traffic, but unless you send the material out. you’ll never know, will you?
I’ve seen creators increasingly rely on the vain hope that some media site might find their Page on Facebook or subscribe (and read) their twitter feed. They don’t. They can’t. I’m sorry, but we’re in information overload.
Your press release needs to state in the first paragraph: What, Why, Where, When, Who and How. Include you primary web link in that first paragraph.
The following paragraphs in your release – ideally just one page in length – repeat that information in more detail – outline the book concept, detail the creators (with web links if applicable) and, most importantly, how people can buy the book. If the launch ties in with an appearance at a comics event, don’t forget to mention it.
End your PR with quotes from creators and validations from names that will sit up and make the press person take notice. (Get permission from these people first to use their quote – and send them the PR when it’s ready, they might plug it for you!)
Include ‘Notes to Editors‘ (these probably will be on second page, so nothing vital should be included about your comic) – if you have set up your own company, outline there what the company is and what you are publishing
Already had reviews? Pull ‘one liners’ from these and include them with web links to the review if you have them.
Images: I suggest sending out medium resolution 1600 pixel width cover images and maybe three to four sequentials. You don’t want to overload the recipient’s mail box. THERE IS NO POINT SENDING HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGES. These are only useful to print press. Make sure you tell people high resolution images are available – and offer a PDF of the book, too. Don’t send it out automatically.
Why 1600 pixel width? Because 1600 pixel width images don’t count to a Google Blogger’s Picasa limit and a lot of people use Blogger. Why would they need anything wider, anyway?
Press Release Format: I personally hate PDFs. You have to open them up, select the image, cut and paste them into a photo comportion program… it’s a barrier to a speedy, quick post even if the site only runs that vital first paragraph. Send the press release in the body of an email as well as including it in a Word or .rtf attachment. Why make it hard for the lazier journalists to simply put up the PR as is (unfortunately, on one occasion for me in the PR’s entirety, including all phone numbers you wouldn’t expect proper journalists to include).
You want you message out there – the easier it is for the recipient to do that to fill a slow news day, the better your chances
Who should I send it to? Don’t mailbomb the main comic new web sites and send your PR to every address you can find. Try and identify who covers the kind of material you are publishing and target them, perhaps even with a personal email in the first instance.
For send out bulk mailings, consider using a service like MailChimp and get people to subscribe to a mailing list on your site.
Obviously, you should also run your press release on your own web site and post links or the story to your social media; but be careful how you use the latter. Don’t post your release on Facebook groups that have no relevance to the content of your comic (or planned comic, if you’re promoting a crowd funding appeal). Don’t ‘friend’ comic creators just so you can Direct Mail them with links to your project, either – they don’t like it. Social media is not a one way street – it’s about engagement, and if you want people to spread the word about your project, then you should help them promote theirs by return.
No-one’s run my release! If you don’t seem to be getting much of a response, target key sites and ask them if they got the release, would they like more information. This might prompt them to run the first PR if nothing else.
Always be polite. They don’t have to run your PR, and that might simply be because the person who received it wasn’t keen on the material. Perhaps this will prompt them to pass it on to another person the site. Also, bear in mind that many comic news sites (including this one) are not the person’s day job. They may be running it because they love comics, but the site doesn’t necessarily pay the bills (it certainly hasn’t paid many of mine, and I’ve been running this site since 1999!)
Can I send you my Press Release? I hope this article is useful. For those of you reading this who are British, I am more than happy to receive PR about a comic created in the UK or titles that involve British creators. Our email address is on our front page.
I set up www.downthetubes.net to promote British comics at a time when there was very little coverage of our comics outside of 2000AD and key creators back in 1999 and its ‘Britishness’ is its Unique Selling Point. It’s not because I don’t like comics from elsewhere, but US comics get very good exposure on the web already and, if you can read French, so do most bande dessines, in my view.