Indie Comics Promotion

By | Friday, October 13, 2006 Leave a Comment
There were two indie books I was looking for this week at my local shop: the Girl Genius volume 5 trade paperback and Dr. Id #1. Both of which are being published basically by the authors themselves, and I wasn't entirely surprised that my local comic shop guy didn't have either.

What surprised me, though, was that evidently Girl Genius wasn't even out yet! He said he had four other people already specifically request it a while back. It should be showing up any day now, and he ordered one extra copy that he'll set aside for me. Which is great, but I only knew about it because it's been up for sale on the author's web site for at least a couple of weeks now. Obviously, that was a kind of pre-order situation, but it doesn't say that on the site. Given that it's a small press deal, it didn't wholly surprise that I hadn't heard about it earlier.

Dr. Id he hadn't even heard of. Not surprising, honestly, since it's the authors' first comic and they've only got one issue of the one title slated for publication so far. In fact, the only reason I knew about it myself was because I was tooling around on the Internet looking for information about the author for wholly different reasons! noted that the book did come out this week, but obviously that doesn't mean any given comic retailer ordered copies three months ago. I'm going to check another shop on my way home later today to see if they picked it up.

My point, though, is that we've got two books here that I have a distinct interest in already, and I had to do a fair amount of virtual and real legwork to just try to figure out how to get a hold of them. Neither book would've hit my radar at all if I weren't actively looking for something by their respective authors. So how, may I ask, do they expect to generate enough sales to break even?

Phil Foglio is probably not terribly worried about it. He's been around long enough and developed something of a following in his own right. With his Girl Genius series in particular, he's figured out a business model that seems to work for him and, as long as his readership doesn't bottom out entirely, he'll probably be fine financially.

I'm not sure that Adam McGovern has the same luxury with his Dr. Id though. He's not a complete unknown, as he's a regular contributor to The Jack Kirby Collector, but I think the audience of that magazine is maybe in the thousands. And it's not necessarily an audience who would, with any guarantee, go out and buy his comic just because of his name. Nothing against Adam, by any means here, but I don't think he's done enough shilling to really promote the book. I think I've seen one interview on Newsarama, but again, I only ran across it because I was looking for info about him.

And that, I think, is the biggest problem indie creators have today. They can have all the great ideas in the world, and do a brilliant job executing them, but if they can't get their message above the din of DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse noise, they're effectively dead in the water. An indie comic creator needs to be more than a creator, they need to be a salesman and a marketing guru as well.

One final note... I do want to help both Adam and Phil out, even though I don't know either of them personally. Next time you swing by your local shop, go ahead and buy Adam's and/or Phil's book. If your local shop doesn't have either, ask them about it and see if they can't order it for you.
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