Publishing a Graphic Novel: Promoting the Unavailable

Beatrice is Dead is an upcoming graphic novel. As in, I currently have no product. What do you mean I still have to market?

Even though movie previews and advanced marketing for entertainment make complete sense, it never occurred to me that this sort of thing happened in the writing world. By now, I’ve grown a little more accustomed to ideas on building an audience; I have begrudgingly abandoned the fantasy that once you write a book everyone will buy it, of course, and you can quit your day job and get to jet setting.

Social media has provided so many tools for self-promotion and to garner support for products-in-the-making, it’s almost shocking when someone doesn’t grab at the opportunities available. Just look at Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter ($736,347 in crowd sourced backing so far!!!).

I don’t have a Kickstarter for my graphic novel, and I haven’t thought about creating one, but I have been considering tools to build readership. Because I’m a little weird about this stuff–I sometimes spot a sheen of ick on self-promotion and marketing–I decided that I’d take the “give them something for their troubles” route. Added value…whatever you want to call it. I’m not famous, I don’t have a massive fan base (and I only wish the county gift-wrapped a box of connections and left it at my front door by dint of a Los Angeles address). If I was going to ask people to “Like” the graphic novel’s Facebook page, I’d better give them a reason to do so.

It didn’t take much thinking to figure out what I would gift potential readers. I had advised a Facebook friend who said she was never able to write a short story without wanting to turn it into a full-length novel. I suggested she write short stories based on side characters in her full-length WIPs. The memory of that comment, combined with the constant stream of alerts to free reading on my personal FB page brought me to my answer.

I’d give the BID side characters a little of the spotlight through free (FREE FREE FREE!!, as it’s posted everywhere) illustrated flash fiction posted to the FB page every month. The stories would give people the opportunity to get to know some of the characters in the story, the mood, Robert’s art, and my writing style. Then, if they liked what they saw, they might click that Like button and spread the word.

Writing and illustrating takes time and I was afraid Rob would think I was trying to give him carpal tunnel with my ideas, but we’re both deeply invested in this project and are putting our all into it. Recently, I posted the story to Issuu as well. You can read it by clicking the cover above.

After posting the first short story, I took out a FB ad with a low budget, advertised the free horror stories, and we more than doubled our Likes in three days! Our audience is still pretty small, and I can’t afford a major ad campaign, but it’s only been a month and if we keep this up, posting quality illustrated short stories and taking out small ads, I’m hoping we can have a sizable audience by the time BID is in print.

And, now that we have our bookmarks as well, it’s time to step away from the computer and take our marketing to comic stores and events. Eep!