What more can we do to help retailers sell our comics?
The conversation about Eric Stephenson's ComicsPRO address has got me thinking about that. But then, I think about it a lot.
I'm going to throw a couple ideas out to get the ball rolling. I'd like to hear your thoughts — both on the things I'm bringing up, and about the topic overall. What can we as creators do to get more people into shops, and to encourage the people already in the shops to pick up our work?
Market your books to people who don't read comics. A number of us do this already (@RussellLissau): We go to horror conventions or anime shows or similar, and hand-sell our work to people who don't already read comics. For a lot of those people, that's where it ends. But some of them are inevitably going to read our comics, like them — and go into a store looking for more.
Ad campaign for pre-ordering? I'd love to see some kind of awareness campaign in comics for the importance of pre-ordering. Pre-ordering is so important for the life of our work... but such a small percentage of fans seem to do it. Personally, I feel like a lot of that has to do with a lack of awareness on the customers' parts.
Maybe we need a website (preorder-your-comics.com?) explaining how to preorder and how it helps YOU the customer out (which is really how I think we need to think of this: How does preordering add value to a comics reader's life?)? Maybe a nice ad (full page and half-page options) with a CC license, saying "Independent comics wants YOU to preorder your comics!" and explaining how to do it and how it helps you? And a matching poster/flyer that stores can post in their shops? (I think any ad or poster, to work especially well, is going to need to be really well-designed. Eye-catching and memorable.)
In-Store Street Teams? The accepted wisdom is that street teams don't work for comics the way they do in music and in marketing other products. I don't know how true that is. But recently I've been thinking about starting a specific street team: One composed exclusively of comic and book store employees. Lots of comic store employees like my work, and hand-sell it — I talked to four or five comic store people at Wizard World New Orleans alone. So I'd like to encourage that, and reward people at comic stores who make an effort to support my work.
What form would that take? Probably an email list to keep them aware of when my new books are coming out, maybe some talking points and "for fans of [similar titles]' comparisons, plus maybe exclusive posters/prints for the stores, bookmarks/post cards/business cards they can put out, and maybe something like an individually-signed postcard from me that they can put in the box of people who subscribe to my work, thanking them from me (and maybe giving them an exclusive free comic PDF or something?). That's off the top of my head. There'd need to be cool swag or free comics or something for the people on the street team, too.
Anyway. What do people think?