Comic books have evolved into the graphic novels popular today reaching out to a more diverse and mature audience. Rich storylines illustrated with artwork offer something for just about everyone. This unique format is able to stand on its own as a single novel, however, graphic novels tend to span over a series. Many who read them are also in the habit of acquiring a collection.
Online print-on-demand or digital channels of distribution prove extremely promising now that many readers will download to tablets. Diamond Distribution, the comic store direct market distributor, makes it hard for independent writers to even be listed unless they are generating a certain amount of monthly revenue. Publishers expect YOU to promote your book if you are an independent creator. A major plus for graphic novels are that they are not limited to comic vendors as far as direct marketing goes. The following is a list of ideas on how to go about promotion of a graphic novel once it is published.
· Research graphic novel related web sites and community message boards. Become a fixture on the forums and if there is a blog community there, post some entries and make sure to comment on others’ posts. Build some online cred this way, so you have a good base market warmed up to you already. Some popular online hangouts to start with are: ArtBomb, The Pulse on Comicon, Absolute Write, Comic Book Resources, Media Bistro and The Comics Journal.
· Get a website or blog specifically to showcase your graphic novel. Update with news, show off your art and share any tantalizing press. Have a free preview download and create posts that are of the “behind-the-scenes” variety. A cast-page with the main characters and brief descriptions of them will give a nice sneak-peak and builds some background for future readers and a reference for those that are already reading.
· Get interviews and novel reviews. You may want to start with contacting local reviewers at newspapers, magazines, blogs or websites. Offer a free digital copy and give a brief description of your novel. Kirkus has reviewed many graphic novels and is a highly regarded source. If you have a healthy advertising budget you should be able to foot the $400-500 review cost.
· Word of mouth, as in conversations – don’t be too shy to let people know that you are a writer and have recently written a book. Have a business card with your site or blog address on it where they can see a preview of the content in your graphic novel. If you can carry a printed version with you, do so. Having seen it will solidify the book in their minds and many will likely spread the word that they met a published writer and it will grow from there.
· Of special consideration in how to promote graphic novels depends on your target readership. If you want to reach a specific audience, find out the channels of communications best suited to target this group. Focus on those especially.
· Crowd-sourcing is a highly accessible and easy way to start getting the word out while also funding your initial startup costs. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFUndMe campaigns have proven time and time again to be effective and provide a way for independent creatives to get their work to the public while involving said public in their production. Called “backers”, the crowd-source investors are often customers getting a sneak-peak or calling dibs on what is to come. If you look at current campaigns on such sites you will note that the trend is towards giving something special as a thank you for supporters. It is, in a way, the pre-sale before the main launch. Graphic novels are made up of both illustration and creative writing. Signed posters or postcards and even downloads of digitized bonus material are great rewards that also help those that help fund you use as marketing tools. It is a win-win.
You do not have to limit yourself to online sources, having a fundraising event is something that has been around much longer than the internet, and it can be very fun and create quite a buzz in your community. At a live event you can have costumed hosts representing the characters from your novel and even have a video presentation or live reading/ re-enactment of scenes from the graphic novel you are promoting.
Reading this information focused on self-promotion of a graphic novel is just a start in getting your work out there and noticed. Sometimes after you get set up self-publishing and run some campaigns on your own publishers and agents start to show interest. At that point you will be empowered to pick and choose whether to branch out and explore the options they offer or not. The best thing is being able to maintain total control of your work and how it is represented. If you get the ball rolling on promotion you will already have set the stage for how the public will be engaged in your graphic novel. And then… time to consider your series and even possible spin-offs.