On Business: Don't be Bob Smith

By | Monday, October 03, 2016 Leave a Comment
I use ComicBookDB.com to keep track of my comics collection. When I first saw it around a decade ago (!) I didn't think the crowd-sourcing model would work well enough that I wouldn't have to enter data for almost my entire collection, but I will admit that I was very wrong about that. As of today, I've entered a little over 3,000 issues myself over the past ten years but my collection stands north of 19,000. And most of what I've entered were either extended runs of a single title where I could basically copy one issue repeatedly and modify just the date and issue number, or relatively obscure independent comics that almost no database would be expected to have. But most of your regular Marvel/DC/Dark Horse/Archie type books get written up within 24 hours of their release, so a lot of books are listed if you just want to check off what you have.

I was doing some of logging of those really obscure issues yesterday though. I had a small pile of minicomics and indie books that I'd picked up at a variety of conventions over the summer. Not only were many of the titles not included in the database, but even many of the creators had not been noted yet! No big deal, though. Adding creators is pretty easy and, unless you're trying to log in some huge anthology, most books are pretty easy as well.

as long as I have all the info.

That's the problem I sometimes find myself up against... no information. Yesterday alone, I was trying to track down creators who only listed themselves by nicknames. "D-Man" or "Mel-L" or whatever. Now unless you have a popular website tied to that name (which you don't, because why they hell would you be selling minicomics if you did) I don't have anything I can do with that.

Or listing the names of the creators but not saying who did what.

Or having your website but not listing out your work.

One of the things I've heard complained about with regard to webcomics is that the creator has to do a lot of stuff BESIDES making their comic to be successful at it. But the same holds true for indie comics as well. How do you expect people to find your work if you're not promoting it on your website? If you expect any/all of your sales to come exclusively from tabling at small, local conventions, you are going to get completely lost in the crowd.

Let me throw this scenario out... You're tabling at a show. Some people come up, look your work over, chat with you a bit. They seem interested and friendly, but they ultimately walk off without buying anything. Now, if you're smart, you've still given them a business card or a bookmark or something with your name and website on it, so they can look you up later. And maybe they'll buy something from your online store, or check back periodically to see what show you'll be at next. (Because you've got both listed on your site, right?) But if the information on your site is vague or out of date with regards to your work, that person is going to be skeptical about sending you money.

Or how about this? Tabling at a show. People scan by your table, stop only briefly, don't say anything, and move on before you have a chance to talk with them. You write them off as people who wouldn't be interested in your work anyway. But maybe they were mildly interested or just shy, and made a mental note of your name to look you up later. Even if they're memory is impeccable and remember precisely how to spell your name, Google still has to send them to your site. That might be a little easier with an unusual name ("Sean Kleefeld" has been a fantastic name in that regard!) but if your name is Bob Smith, that will be infinitely harder. (For the record, I used to actually work with a guy named Bob Smith. I've never been able to find what he's been up to.) You need to make sure your name is as Google-able as possible, and with a more common name, you should focus on your name combined with the titles of all your books.

Let me make it simple for you. On every comic you make, include the names of all the creators, their roles in making the comic, their websites, the comic's website, the price (trust me, any retailer who you want to re-sell your work will curse you if you don't have the price on there) and, ideally, the publication date. (So if, by chance, your website falls to the wayside because you got tied up with regular, paying job and/or a family or whatever, the reader won't be as pissed off if your comic was published several years ago. If it's got a current date and your site is jacked, well... let's just say that doesn't inspire professionalism or confidence.)
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