Breaking into the industry

Mass market tips to sell your comic

The comic market works differently than mass-market. Understanding differencies will greatly help you selling your comic.

Kick-Ass crew at the comic shop.

Kick-Ass crew at the comic shop.

How mass market works

Mass market products can benefit from a wide range of distribution channels, retailers and shops. A typical example are smartphones. You can buy a smartphone everywhere: supermarkets, dedicated shops, technology shops, phone companies shops, etc.

Let’s analyze the buying process.
When you decide to buy a new smartphone, you:

  1. Browse the web for product reviews and comparisons.
  2. Ask friends.
  3. Visit one or more malls and try different devices, even without buying.
  4. You choose one specific product and go to your favourite mall again with the intention to buy that product.
Hey, Ben. I got a phone call from our local comic shop. The book you ordered when you were 17 has arrived!

Hey, Ben. I got a phone call from our local comic shop. The book you ordered when you were 17 has arrived!

The comic book market

The comic book market is a niche.
A lot of people love and buy comics, that’s for sure. But comics can’t count on a variety of distribution channels and end up in a well defined “fence”: comic shops, comicons and -for some big titles- newsstands.

Truth is, you don’t meet comic books outside these specific places. Common people don’t step into comics while they buy food at the supermarket or are looking for a new laundry at the technology store. Nor when they visit toy shops or walk along the “books for kids” shelves.

Worse than that, even promotion channels for comics are very narrow, except from dedicated catalogs (very hard to find a place in there) and internet (an ocean in which your advertising can easily sink).

The buying process of a comic book

Now, let’s compare the average behavior of a mass market buyier with a person who ends up buying a new comic:

  1. You “meet” the comic incidentally, because you’re browsing catalogs or a friend shows you a copy of the book. Another option is that you visit a comicon and bring home a reminder in form of a card, flyer and such.
  2. You visit the comic website and look for detailed information on internet forums. You want to be 100% sure the comic is worth buying.
  3. You order the book at your local comic store, hoping the distributor will ship it soon enough (In Italy, self-produced comic are delivered months after the order from comic shops!).
  4. Optional. You get sick of waiting for the retail chain to work. Hopefully for the comic author, you don’t give up and decide to buy online or at the next comicon. In both cases, you’re in a bad mood related to that comic. This is no good at all for sales.

Buying a non-mainstream comic through the established retail chain, usually ends up in a negative and frustrating experience for your potential reader.

How can I effectively sell my comic book?

Calm down. Take a big breath and go back to the lists you just read. Can you spot the difference? It’s all about the warm and human connection to the product.

With mass market products, you’re able to discuss them with friends. Probably, you already know and trust the brand. You can compare prices and buy in the shop you trust the most, assisted by a competent saleperson. All these details grow your confidence toward the product and give it a human touch.

You emphatize. Your opinions and decisions matter. You feel you’re considered.

To effectively sell your comic book, you must create a positive experience between the book and the reader.

Tips for a “warm sell”

  • Sell at comicons. Show off and offer a human and positive experience to people who approach you.
  • Smile, shake hands, be entusiastic. Turn persons into friends in a genuine way.
  • Follow up. Engage with your supporters in person, via social networks, emails… They’re your book’s best friends. Give them attention and give feedback to their feedback.
  • Reward them. Original drawings, signed books, contests and sweepstakes, behind the scenes… Don’t be afraid to share tips & tricks about making comics or to spend time chatting with your audience.
  • Look for new ways to distribute and sell. Don’t rely solely on the traditional distribution chain. Make deals and alliances with local whatever shops (not only comic shops) and chain shops. Offer a return policy and interesting percetage to retailers. Offer free shipping and goodies for big orders. Offer affiliation.
    To make it short: be creative about ways to order and purchase your book.