Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Preorder This: Listen At Home with Octopus Pie

So here's the story. Last year, a bunch of cartoonists were picked up by mainstream book publishers (many of them imprints of Random House) because comics are so terribly hot right now. They must have literally expected the books to sell themselves, because I'm not aware of much of a marketing push (a lot of my non-comic reading friends have greedily devoured my Julia Wertz books and then demanded to know why they had never heard of her before). When word-of-mouth wasn't enough to send the books flying off the shelves, the publishers abruptly dropped their cartoonists, apparently convinced that while comics are "hot," they don't necessarily "sell."

Among the cartoonists who rode this publishing rollercoaster is Octopus Pie's Meredith Gran. In fact, after Random House delivered the bad news, Gran briefly flirted with the idea of returning to studio animation (which she studied at the School for Visual Arts). But, thankfully, she's joined up with the Pizza Island studio (How I'd love to be a fly on that wall!) and is keeping on with Octopus Pie. This means, however, that she's back on the self-publishing bandwagon and needs reader support. Gran plans to release Listen At Home With Octopus Pie in May, and rather than head over to Kickstarter, she's relying on preorders to foot the printers bill. It's not just about getting a pretty hard copy (although that cover is pretty) -- it's also about supporting Gran's work so she can continue working with these characters.

[Preorder Listen At Home With Octopus Pie]


Anonymous said...

Wow, that a) really sucks, b) is exactly the kind of boneheaded marketing decision I've come to expect from the publishing industry over the years. (It's not just comics. Not just the publishing world either, to be honest.)

During the < 6 months that I've been acting as volunteer publicist for a webcomic, and the longer time that I've worked in print media of various kinds, I've seen a striking correlation between running ads and people going to the website. It's not quite as simple as "buy adspace" --> "get readers", but it's unavoidable that if you want people to know about your product, you need to get the word out. And that usually costs money. It can be tiny amounts of money for large returns, with Project Wonderful, but you need to put the effort in. You need good ads--by which I mean ads that are both eye-catching and representative--and you need to target them to receptive audiences.

I post ads for the comic I volunteer PR for on websites I go to and comics I read, because I figure that if I liked it, other people who like the same things I do may also like it. Not rocket science! (Happy Yuri's Day, BTW.) And then I track performance. I don't do it with fanatical devotion to accuracy, because I'm not a numbers gal at bone and because winging it seems to work pretty well--but a rough tally of clicks versus cost versus page views, and a look at page placement, is usually enough to give me a sense if an ad is worth renewing after a week of running it.

But the inescapable fact remains: you can't trust to luck/chance/fate to do your marketing for you! I think that--getting back to the original topic of your post--by direct-marketing themselves, to receptive audiences of people who already know them and already support indy art and webcomics, the creators like Gran will have huge success compared to Random House...and Random House won't be able to figure it out.


Tom Dell'Aringa said...

Hey JM, I agree with you, and that's exactly the type of help I'm looking for. I would love it if you could contact, me - if only to chat about this. I could use your insight.

Also, the OP book looks great.



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