Once you’ve published your comic – either in print or on the web or digital device – how do you promote it? In addition to selling it via sites like Smallzone and submitting to larger comic retailers such as Forbidden Planet and Forbidden Planet International, you could also make your own online virals — consider creating a YouTube ad, for example.
There are also a number of web sites and print titles that publish reviews of British comics and this thread in the the 2000AD forum has plenty of other tips for creators.
What follows is not an exhaustive list and additions are welcome. We strongly suggest that you check with the sites to see if the book you’re producing is the kind of title they’ll review. For example, some listed are obviously manga-oriented (we’ve put these in a separate section) and at downthetubes, we focus on British comics titles.
The Emperor makes the good suggestion that, before sending a web site a physical copy of your comic you might want to get in touch and ask if they accept PDF versions for review. “It saves posting something to the US”, he says. Good idea!
He also suggests it is also worth bearing in mind that an interview or feature might also be as useful as a review on the sites listed below. “I suspect you’d need to be getting a bit of a buzz around your comic first but if so some of the British sites might talk to you. Of the others Comics Bulletin has done the occasional interview, like this one (I suspect because Rob Williams was getting interest from Cla$$war, or perhaps he just dropped them a line), and Comicon.com also do interviews about British comics. There have been a few on Markosia titles (mainly Tony Lee’s) as well as some 2000AD stories, like this for Low Life.
“I am unsure if they have any specific criteria or whether it is down to creators being proactive (Tony Lee and Rob Williams seem to crop up most often). It is important to remember that most sites are on the look out for new material, so don’t be shy about contacting them, they can only say no (and that doesn’t reflect on your work – it may just be they are running at full capacity, for example).”
• Broken Frontier (www.brokenfrontier.com)
While this is a general comics news site that also covers US and digital comics, Broken Frontier has done a few reviews of 2000AD trades and the occasional prog review. Lowdown Editor Andy Oliver has also covered Cla$$war recently. It might be worth someone contacting him and seeing what he is and isn’t interested in.
• Bugpowder (www.bugpowder.com/trs2/)
Send a sample copy of your comic to Jez Higgins, 26 Sandon Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B17 8DS. The best British indie/small press comic site.
• Comic Book Review: (www.comicbookreview.co.uk)
From the same people who give you Those We Left Behind, Comic Book Review is a site dedicated pretty much to any comic books they want to talk about, past, present or future. That is the only agenda – so in 2009 you can expect coverage of The Walking Dead, Unknown Soldier, Crossed, Captain Britain & MI13, Herogasm and whatever else floats their boat. Stuff with ‘zombie’ in the title works on occasion, but not always.
• Comics Bulletin (www.comicsbulletin.com)
What used to be Silver Bullets, this site regularly reviews comics of all types and print runs. Kelvin Green semes to be the man to get in touch with there when it comes to British comics coverage, according to The Emperor. “It’s a good site to target,” he feels, “as it is one of the big comics sites and, unlike [US comics sites] Newsarama and Comic Book Resources, is happy to cover the smaller publishers (as they do a much wider range of reviews that either site).”
Comics Bulletin also has a column, Comics Britannia, that covers British comics, although it has been a little infrequent recently.
• The Comic List (http://www.comiclist.com/index.php/newreleases/comiclist-for-this-week)
A list of the comic books, graphic novels, and other products that should be available in your local or online comic book shop this week. Probably best to send PR rather than physical copies of your title.
Although we cover the mainstream British comics press, we also like to promote British indie titles – small press and large. Contact us for postal information as to where to send review copies or simply send a PDF of your comic (or a link to a PDF) along with publishing info: price, where to get copies, information about the title and a web site link. Thanks.
Please note, downthetubes is edited by volunteers in their spare time and we don’t get a lot of it some weeks. It may take a while for a review to appear.
• Forbidden Planet International (www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/)
An absolute must, since FPI may also decided to sell your title. FPI has been very supportive of the British small press in recent years and the editorial team there have received much praise and deserved kudos for their hard work.
• Geek Syndicate (http://geeksyndicate.wordpress.com)
The GS boys Barry Nugent and Dave Monteith produce a superb weekly podcast, celebrating and commenting on all aspects of geek life including comics, books, movies, tv, games, tech … and booze. It’s critically acclaimed, irreverent, touching, intellectual, nonsensical, fairly drunken, incredibly sexy, hilarious…er… and stuff.They’ve done reviews on the air when they haven’t been able to do some reviews on the site.
• Hypergeek (www.hypergeek.ca/category/columns/small-press-sunday)
• IndieReview.co.uk (indiereview.co.uk)
There is the UK independent comics publishers’ portal and community website.
• Indyworld (www.indyworld.com/altcomics/index.html)
US-based alternative on-line E-zine
Recently-revived by Barry Renshaw (see downthetubes news story), now purely online: fab British indie title. Barry tells me he’s very keen to ensure it resumes giving British small press the best coverage possible.
• Smallzone (www.smallzone.co.uk/)
100% Indie stuff and they have a few offshoots such as ” Incoming Fanzine” etc You should definitely send a copy to Shane Chebsey who runs this site as he also distributes indie titles in the UK.
These sites tend to lean toward reviewing graphic novels rather than comics.
• The Book Bag (www.thebookbag.co.uk)
The Bookbag features books from all the many walks of literary life – fiction, crime, graphic novels and anything else that takes their fancy. “At Bookbag Towers the bookbag sits at the side of the desk,” say the webmasters. “It’s the bag we take to the library and the bookshop. Sometimes it holds the latest releases, but at other times there’ll be old favourites, books for the children, books for the home. They’re sometimes our own books or books from the local library. They’re often books sent to us by publishers and we promise to tell you exactly what we think about them.”
You might not want to read through a full review, so BookBag also offers a quick review which summarises what they felt about the book and tells you whether or not they think you should buy or borrow it. There are also lots of author interviews, and all sorts of lists – all of which you can find on the Features page.
• Grovel (http://www.grovel.org.uk)
Grovel has been publishing reviews of graphic novels since 2002. Although based in the UK, the site isn’t restricted to British books, offering honest book reviews intended to inform any comic buyer who reads in English. Grovel doesn’t discriminate against graphic novels because of genre, publisher, writer or artist – they aim to provide a balanced spread of reviews for all types of reader, whether they’re looking for fantastic superhero fiction or thoughtful true-life biography. “If we think a book is good, we’ll say so. And if we think it’s bad, we’ll tell you that too.”
• MyReviewer.com (www.myreviewer.com)
• SciFiPulse.net (www.scifipulse.net)
“I don’t have time to review every comic or book I come across,” says every busy webmaster Ian Cullen, “but have been known to review the odd title.” SciFiPulse has some great coverage of the US comics scene, too, including reviews and interviews. It has also recently launched its own podcast.
• Incoming (http://incoming.ning.com/)
An open community for readers, creators and publishers of small press and independent comics, with news, forums and galleries and more.
• PoopSheet (http://poopsheetfoundation.ning.com/)
A central meeting place for mini-comics publishers, artists, writers, readers and collectors. Our primary focus is mini-comics and their history, from their underground / newave “birth” in the ’70s to the current scene of today.
• We Make Zines (http://wemakezines.ning.com/)
An online community for zine makers and readers. Although there are many social networking sites out there, there is little that focuses on zines.
There is now a creators forum on the 2000AD site:
There is a tips and tutorials thread which might have useful things and there are other general threads for different aspects of the process. So for example The Emperor added this link to D’Israeli’s comics colouring on computer tutorials.
• Comics Mole (comicmole.wordpress.com)
Covers a lot of UK manga style work. Webmistress Vicki Paull explains she covers UK small press comics and also sometimes interviews their creators. “I’ll be covering both webcomics and print comics, and mentioning where some cross over into both formats.” Vicki is part of Bumblemoo Studios.
• NeoMag (www.neomag.co.uk)
Excellent anime and magazine published by Uncorked Media.
• UK Anime (www.uk-anime.net)
The UK Anime Net is one of the UK’s oldest online anime and manga magazines. Covering over a decade of developments, controversy and fantastic conventions, UKA attracts an average of 45,000 unique readers a month.
• Tripwire (www.tripwire-magazine.com)
Publisher Joel Meadows has given British comic creators plenty of coverage down the years.
Quarterly print title. Has published comics reviews in the past.
Offers regular comics coverage and has a reviews section
Don’t ignore you local newspapers. Send them a copy of your comic together with a press release that’s skewed to play up the local connection. Make sure, of course, that there’s somewhere local comic fans can buy your comic first! Some of my local press and radio stations have been brilliant covering comics I’ve been involved with in the past.
• The Glasgow and Edinburgh Events Magazine The List does a few UK based comic reviews (but not a lot). See if you local events guide might give you some coverage
• You could also check out the Skinny, the free Scottish and excellent pop/ culture paper (www.theskinny.co.uk). It’s only given comics limited coverage, but these may be similar titles worth tracking down.
Of course, as well as promoting your comic, you need to find places to sell it. You might want to consider contacting shops direct about your comic, especially if you have a specialist store in your town that’s willing to promote local talent. While selling via your web site (perhaps using payPal) or offering the comic in digital formats such as myEbook are good ideas, online sales are still actually quite a small percentage of the sale of goods (some business analysts estimate it’s between 4 – 5%), so having shops on board selling real print copies remains an important element of getting your work out there.
Selling your comic direct to stores is not easy. You have to convince them to stock it first, for one thing, and getting your cut of any sales is not always easy. Concentrate on stores near you first, ones you can easily get to and chase for money, before spreading your wings..
That said, your local comic shop could prove one of your best selling points if they’re on side. First Age Comics in Lancaster has carried both Spaceship Away and Eagle Flies Again for me in the past and both have sold well, as have other locally-produced ‘zines.
• The Master List (www.the-master-list.com) is an exhaustive guide to comic shops worldwide: here’s a direct link to the UK section. Bear in mind that while comic shops are always keen to ensure they’re included on such lists, if they go out of business they rarely let people know, so always check to see if a store is still trading before heading out to visit it.
The Emperor suggests: “Publicity is relatively straightforward but you need to go beyond circulating a press release and hoping someone will pick it up… basically you target comics readers and those who might be interested in the topic. Then if you have a solid “hook” in there you could punt the story out further, to sites like Bleeding Cool, which gets a lot of traffic and can raise your profile on other comics sites (I submit quite a few tips to British comics news there) and if you have a really big “hook” (often if your comic includes a high profile personality or touches directly on some newsworthy topic) you could consider dropping a line to the mainstream media. Wasted #7 sold out pretty quickly (which featured the first Vampire Vixens), so we must have done something right 😉
“Tables can be had at most comics conventions to anyone prepared to stump up the cash. The main concerns at the recent Ka-Pow one was because the price was so high a lot of small press publishers couldn’t afford it. However, throughout the year there are usually numerous small press specific ones as well as events like Bristol where they have separate mainstream and small press venues (but really there was so much crossover you’d struggle to work out where the line is drawn).”
With thanks to: Azurechan, Ian M. Cullen, The Emperor, Kevin Quinn, McScotty, Joel Meadows, Hubert Windell