Promoting Yourself Locally

Click Image to Find Out More About Free Comic Book Day!

We talk a lot about Social Networking on Twitter and Facebook, or even getting out and commenting on other comic sites to get your name out there.  But we often forget the biggest tool we have, and it’s right in front of you: where you live!

Yes, your own town. “What?” you say?  “I live in a little one-horse town, how is that going to help me?”  Well, I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond then a tiny fish in an ocean about to be swallowed up.  Any town, regardless of where you live, will  help you grow your business.  Letting local businesses, neighbors, community leaders and the like know you’re doing a comic and promoting it will give you a helping hand more than you think.  I did a small press release last year about how I create my comic from my home and my college’s Alumni association picked up on it, mentioned it in one of their publications and suddenly I have a bunch of Illinois State University Alumni reading my comic… and more importantly, spreading the word about my comic.

One of the ways you can put your name out there is by participating in Free Comic Book Day held on the first Saturday in May each year. Go to your local comic store and ask if you can be a part of the day.  They’ve heard about it more than likely (if not, get them involved!)  as it’s a great promotion to get folks to come into their shop to not only pick up a free comic, but also the opportunity to SELL them comics as well.

I am doing an appearance at a comic book store this year and I’m able to set up my own little table, sell my books and do sketches.   I will have book markers promoting my comic that I will give away free.  The store owner was not aware of my comic, but once I showed it to him, he liked t he idea of having a local artist (even little ol’ me) in his shop.

So, go to your local comic book store and get ready for May 7th. Even if you don’t have anything to sell, at least have some business cards made up (you can get them really cheap or even for practically free on some websites).  Then do sketches and commissions and talk up your comic.  You don’t have to be great at drawing caricatures and the like, just do your style as more than likely it will be better than what the person you’re drawing it for can do!

After that, do a press release on how the day went. Get a photograph of yourself at the shop and send it to the local papers, or even your college’s Alumni association.  Who knows, maybe one of your old drinking buddies would like to read your comic!  Worked for me!

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14 Comments

  1. Glad to hear you locked up an event, Byron! I look forward to reading that press release on how it went for you! Last year, Larry’s Comics in Lowell, MA was nice enough to have me be a part of their Free Comic Book Day celebration. Not only did I make some decent coin (no table fee = good profit), I got to meet some other artists who were at the event, and connect with local comics fans.

    I’ll be doing it again, this year at Comically Speaking in Reading, MA, and am much looking forward to it.

    • Tyler: Now see, I live locally to all these places you mention, but had no idea they even existed. … but then again, I’m leery that a gag a day type comic (like mine) would fit into these kinds of venues. o.O

      Byron: Good article, hopefully those reading it will mention local comic activities going on in their areas that others may not know about!

      • Well, here’s the thing, Jynksie (and this could be a WHOLE other post)…

        I try to meet the comic fan in the middle, something I don’t see a lot of webcomics or indy comics folks doing (much to their detriment, me thinks.)

        Plenty of indy folk go into conventions or events focused solely on what they want to sell. They make it about them, and not the attendees. And more often they are disappointed when people walk by their tables and aren’t interested in their books or merchandise.

        I recognize this…most people going to cons or showing up at a Free Comic Book Day event aren’t going there in hopes of discovering my stuff. They’re going for what they know and what they already like (which is mostly superheros and pop-culture icons.)

        This is why I do the free sketchcards of popular characters. I can bang them out in a few minutes, and give people a little something of what they already like. I’m confident that most will also dig my stuff as well, so this gift gives me a great opportunity to get them more acquainted with my work.

        Let me ask you something, if you don’t think your gag-a-day stuff will appeal to a comic shop venue, than what venue would it appeal to? If you can’t answer that or can’t think of one, then you need to work on your strip more, to build it into something you’re confident in.

        Free Comic Book day pulls in a large audience, many not even regular comic shop attendees. The one thing they have in common is an openness to reading comics. And if they walk into an event and see a good time going on, and a local artist doing cool stuff, there’s a good chance they’ll at least give you the chance to pitch what you’ve got. And really, that’s all you can ask for.

        If you’re local, I’d love to talk to you in person, either at the Boston Comic Con coming up, or swing by Comically Speaking on FCBD.

        • My audience is middle aged, menopausal men in the throws of a midlife crisis. So I’m guessing that my target audience would be found either at a proctologists office, a brothel, Byron Wilkins house, or a Harley dealership. *smirk*

          I’ll look for you @ Comically Speaking, thats just down the road a piece from me.

  2. For a gag a day comic what I have been doing is printing out high quality, two sided bookmarks with a fun front, and my info on the back. Then I take stacks to different libraries and drop them off for people to take for free. I print them on heavy stock printer paper (five per sheet), then I cut them out with a paper trimmer like this http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/412300/Swingline-SmartCut-Personal-Trimmer/?cm_cat=2000000351, only mine’s a little older (time to upgrade). I am spending about $5.00 for a stack of 50. Small price for good promotion.

    And, as silly as it sounds, I have just recently finished discussions with a company that does the place mats that you see at local restaurants. You know the ones with the coupons, puzzles, etc? I am going to be providing a smaller version of my strip for their mats. What they get: a fun comic on their mats. What I get: my web address at the bottom of my strip to be seen by thousands of people a day all over my state. I’m not sure yet what kind of turnover this will provide, but I can’t imagine that it won’t help. Cost: free.

    These are just a couple of the ideas I have been working on. Hope they help.

    • wow, that diner placemat idea is great! And I do live near Land of the Diners (NJ, PA), bustling with young adults who stay up too late and drink far too much free coffee (oh wait, that was me in HS and college). I may look into that myself. How do you find said company/companies Joshua? I cannot believe it’s FREE, too!

      I need to drop off my surplus of bookmarks at local comic shops. A quick google maps search gave me like 4 in my area.. BEFORE I get into Philly itself!

      Thanks for this post.. both Byron and Joshua… I am inspired to step AWAY from my computer this weekend and go find *gasp* actual PEOPLE to chat with at my local comic book shops.

      • Hello Dawn, actually the placemat idea came while my family and I were out eating and the place we were at was using them. The bottom corner of the mat had the companies name and phone number.

        So I took the mat home and called them the next day and talked to the owner (surprisingly not as big an operation as I had imagined) about my idea and the mutual benefits. He really liked the idea and saw the merit in it, so I sent him my web address so he could evaluate my feature and see if he thought it would be a fit. I got an e-mail back from him with the measurements and a deadline for a submission later that day.

        It seems like the company itself is kind of small, but they put their mats in a LOT of restaurants all over my state. And while talking with him he mentioned that he has some other small publications along the same lines that go out to a lot of places that he might want me to do some stuff for. So it could even blossom into other stuff.

        • that’s great Josh! I’ll see if I can find a company like that as well… you’ll have to let us know if you saw a spike in traffic.. or if any new readers actually say they found you via placemat, LOL!

          Thanks for sharing this idea, this is exactly what we encourage here at the Alliance ;0)

    • Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll on a place mat… would make for an interesting meal for sure.

      But, the place mat thing is a great idea! I’ll do a little research into that idea myself!

      I’ve actually considered bar coasters for my comic to give to local pubs for free as an advertising tool as well. Along the same lines, but just for a different audience.

  3. Bar coasters would be a great avenue for your strip. I think coasters of ArDuffle would just freak out the drunks.

    I’ll let you all know if the placemat thing produces any results. I won’t know for a while. I turn in my first one by the 14th of March and the mats go out a little bit after that. So it will probably be around a month before I notice any kind of traffic change from it, if any.

  4. Bar coasters? There’s an interesting idea! I could see 1977 on a bar coaster. Not sure if the margins would be worth it, but it would be pretty sweet to have as a freebie for people buying books at cons too. 😀

  5. That’s really beneficial advice, Byron! I’m trying to figure out how to promote things on FCBD this year, especially since I still feel like an out-of-towner here in Cali. I’m gonna venture out to a few stores in the area and see what they have planned and how I could get put on.

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