Comic Non-Sans: Self-Advertising

Try harder next time, princess.

I believe there is, to some degree, this mentality out there that the only proper “meaningful” attention for any project we do as webcomickers is the sort that comes willingly and unaided from others — bloggers, other webcomickers, what have you.  That pushing yourself to others is some degree of arrogant, that you have to earn your attention passively and that not getting noticed for that is either some sort of slight or an indication that you’re not so grate akshally.

I’m a bit ashamed to say that I am, and always have been, one of those sorts.  The sort that goes “Lumme, I’ve been at this for almost ten years and there are young upstarts who have been at it for two or three and have all sorts of love and affection and yes, even money.”  I’m here to say that that is almost entirely my fault, and if you’re anything like me, then in your cases it’s pretty much entirely your fault, too.

One of the great things about Intervention — besides eating caffeinated marshmallows and hearing Michael Terracciano’s tapeworm joke — was picking up advice at random from the successful sorts, and even from the unsuccessful sorts.  And one of the things I found myself saying in a pot-to-kettle sort of way was:

No one’s gonna advertise for you.

Yes, there are webcomics out there done by teams; there are those who have three or more people working at them, who have separate webmasters, separate people handling promotion, eksettara.  But how many of those are there?  (No, seriously, how many?  I have no idea.  I just know there are some.)  The majority, in my experience, are one- or two-person ventures, and that entails a lot. You pay for your own web space, you run and maintain your own site, you do all the work on all your pages, you work your own tables at cons, and you get your own damn tea and biscuits.  To plenty of people with a few minutes and a bit of extra pocket money, it might occur to them that they make their own banner ads as well … but not all of us.

There is, I’m learning slowly, no shame in going up to someone with an interest in webcomics and going, “Hey, I’ve got this thingy I do and you’ve got this thingy you write.”  Provided it’s done properly.  You can’t sit in your corner and pray.  Now, as I learned from sitting a panel with some other lovely bloggers, it helps if you have a reason to go out there and push yourself: hitting a landmark number of comics, being regional, having some thematic similarity to whomever you’re approaching.  But the point is to do it.

Sadly, though, I’ve seen the flip-side: the obsessive pushers.  And when I say I’ve seen, I mean I’ve encountered personally.  It happens everywhere.  My real-world job, when I’m not striving to become Conqueror Of All Media, is working at a news website.  And I’ll get calls from people who want me to write articles on them. (Never mind that that isn’t my job.)  I’ve directed them to relevant fellow employees or said, “Sorry, we’re not currently doing anything involving that,” but I admire them for giving themselves a push — and often find myself wishing there was a legit way to help them out.

Then you get the pushers.  I have gotten calls back from people three times a week — three times a day — asking if I’m sure I can’t do anything for them.  To quote the good Dr. House, “Perseverance does not equal worthiness.”  It goes from admirable to annoying pretty quickly.  And I do believe a lot of the reason there are webcomickers like me out there who hesitate to self-promote is the fear that we’re gonna be That Guy.

The tricks, then?  Have something to show when you promote yourself (don’t be like my photo up there; make yourself look at least marginally together).  Have a reason for your target to take an interest in you.  Don’t be afraid to be active, but step back and think about what might annoy you personally.  Have business cards.  And most of all, don’t get emo and gloomy if you don’t do any of that stuff and find you’re not getting readers.

tl;dr don’t be like me.

Posted on October 5, 2010 at 00:07 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Webcomics · Tagged with: ,