I’m Von Klaus. I’m a trained screenwriter and comic book author, but most importantly, I am nobody. And while being a nobody in comics I just launched and succeeded in grabbing almost 60 grand with my first ever publishing effort. The question a get daily is: How? Being a name helps but in the end what moves books becomes a lot more complicated and nuanced than that. So I’m here to guide you. We’re going to break this down into my greatest tips so that you, a fellow nobody, will have the tools you need to squeeze success out of your publishing efforts and maximize your books potential to garner an audience of loyal fans for many books to come.
1. PRETEND YOU’RE A PRO
From now on you’re going to pretend you a comics pro about to unleash their greatest creation upon an unsuspecting, hungry for fresh meat, indie comics world. From now on you’ll behave like a pro as you make and polish your book, but more importantly you’ll behave like one when you start interacting with your newfound audience. You’ll also have a confidence to you that will help convince others to support you. Professional decorum will carry you further than you ever expect.
2. BECOME ARTIST, BUSINESS TYCOON, AND CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE
One thing I learned right away when launching my campaign was that I was no longer just a comic book author. I was a salesman. I was also a customer service rep. To do a campaign right you have to become more than just a hopeful artist. Two things people have told me since my campaign launched was that I ran a great campaign because it was both well put together and I was good with customers. That’s what playing multiple roles and doing them well has done for me. Nothing brings customers back or instills good will better than good customer service. You have to be able to interact in positive ways with everyone and answer every question that comes your way with the same fun and attitude you’re using to sell your comic. It all connects in the end so realize this and then live it. You have multiple hats to wear to do this right. Fail in even one area and it can hurt your campaign. Which leads to another important skill when running a good campaign: Listening to your fans. Listen and really consider what they say and see if they have a good point or not. Try to always give them what they want and you’ll have customers for life.
3. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
What genre is your book? Is it a combo of two popular genres? Don’t over think it or assign too many genres – that makes it harder for customers to understand your book and that can cost you sales. Figure out one or two at the most genres for your book and then ask yourself “Where can I find this audience and sell them my book?” For me I knew it was both horror and comedy for Monster M.D. I also reached out the the indie comics world and asked for support. I ran ads on horror websites. I got promoted by different horror and comic twitters. I went to horror and comic forums and posted about my project. Knowing your audience is the key to getting people that want your book through the door.
4. HAVE A KILLER LOGLINE
Your logline is how you compact your entire story (or the setup) in a compelling way in one to two sentences. It’s a handy thing to have to put at the top of your campaign so backers can understand your book and what it’s about extremely quickly, which can help sales. It doubles its value when you’re pitching your book over social media, and when talking in Youtube interviews, as it makes it easy to communicate your story and idea to an audience and hopefully get them to check out your campaign page or dive into their purchase. A good way to look at a log line is that it: Communicates the main character, what they want, what they are up against, what happens if they don’t get what they want. Can you cover your story in one sentence? Be able to. Loglines are an art unto themselves so I highly recommend searching loglines from famous movies, and famous movies that share the genre of your comic, online to study. Remember, a lot of great movies made it through to the pitching floor in front of producers or even sold because they had such incredible loglines. Don’t stop working on yours until you feel like it’s a line that could very well convince someone to buy your book on the strength of the line alone. For that matter have a killer TAG LINE too! The tag line is the line on the poster that entices you to see the movie. For instance, IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM. Alien has a great memorable tagline. For Monster M.D. I went with: EVIL NEEDS A CHECKUP. Use this tagline to sell the hell out of your book. It makes it look more professional and captivating to have one.
5. PRACTICE PITCHING
For me, a pitch is a good martini. It’s one part knowing your story inside and out, and one part passion with a twist of performance art. It’s telling a story and selling something at the same time. It’s generating excitement to know more from your audience. Just like loglines, pitching is also an art that must be mastered. Practice it when alone or with people who won’t stroke your ego and give you genuine feedback. Hell, watch youtube of pitches to learn what works and what doesn’t. For me, pitches are about taking the listener on a journey with twists and turns with my tone of voice acting as a rudder for their emotions. You don’t hope they love your story, instead you take them on a journey that makes them love it. Use elements from your genre in your pitch. If it’s horror I want you to scare me. Comedy, make me laugh. Practice until it becomes second nature so that you’re ready for any interview or even someone on twitter asking you about your book. Pitches are what sell scripts in Hollywood – so sell us on your story. Do not be humble. Sell us the greatest story ever told according to yourself. Be excited. Be confident. Be charming. Be the force that makes your story resonate with an audience. The elevator pitch is shorter than most people realize. It’s the most basic breakdown of your story as to be told under 60 seconds. Personally, I am for less than 30 seconds. To me a good elevator pitch is so short and sweet that it does exactly what they were invented for: Snagging the interest of a movie exec who thinks they’ve heard it all before. If you can win over a jaded movie exec, you’re ready to win over a large audience.
6. STUDY THE GREATS AND COPY COPY COPY
When I started prepping my campaign for Monster M.D. is immediately went to look at other successful comic campaigns across both Indiegogo and Kickstarter. I pulled out a note pad and jotted down what each campaign did that I liked and what they did that I didn’t like. From there a form of a campaign stared to take shape. I looked especially close at successful campaigns for comics within the same genre as mine. How did they appeal to so many fans? What were the perks? What was the language like throughout the campaign? How much art was shown? How long and well done was the trailer? What kind of graphics did they use? I took everything I liked from campaigns like Cyberfrog, Graveyardshift, Jawbreakers, Red Rooster, Bigfoot Bill, and Lady Death and from there formed my own version of the ‘ultimate’ campaign for Monster M.D. Then I walked away from it for a while and came back with fresh eyes to edit out what sucked and add in what made it better. Steal what you love. It’s a campaign, not art in the Louvre. Use it to your advantage. My campaign looked so good that it beat out campaigns done by other comics pros and that wasn’t cause I’m some brilliant campaign expert – as this was my first ever campaign, it was because I presented even more pro than the pros. I had more appealing fun stuff going on and really focused on winning over my audience. I worked very hard on my trailer for Monster M.D., which is nothing special, but I’m always amazed at how many people come to me and admit to copying my trailer because I gave all the info for my book in a succinct and exciting way with cool images. Upon finding out they copied me I always tell them “Good move”. You need to copy what works from other successful campaigns like yours and make it your own where you can to have a campaign that stands out and gains fans.
7. HAVE A PAGE COUNT
Showing your page count right off is a great way to sell your book without having to pitch or do a song and dance. A lot of people if they just like the art and see that you’re selling 100+ pages for cheap will gladly hop aboard. It instills confidence in your buyer that they’re getting something substantial for their hard earned cash. If people don’t know your page count they are less likely to feel confident in giving no matter what price you’re asking. Brag about your page count in promotions to help sell your book.
8. HAVE AT LEAST 5 PAGES OF FINISHED ART TO SHOW ALONG WITH A KILLER COVER
5 pages of your best and finished art will instill confidence in a buyer, but also make sure they showcase different elements of your story including but not limited to: Action, Horror, Sexy stuff, Comedy. Whatever best showcases everything your book is offering. And the cover? That will become more than your book’s cover. It will be the cover of your campaign as well. The image everyone associates with it so be sure to have it and make it a design that draws your audience in over just one that looks cool.
9. MAKE YOUR CAMPAIGN REFLECT YOUR PRODUCT
One way to communicate how great and desirable your book is isn’t found in the book at all. It’s seen in your campaign. My campaign needed to have the same fun and energy and darkly comedic edge as my book. Whether people were aware of it or not, I wanted them to be able to get my book without even reading it, and just looking at the graphics on my campaign. Every single perk had slick graphics and fonts that reflected the monster aspects of my book. My trailer was high energy fun. The copy telling people about the book had jokes and words that reflected my book and it’s unique style. I also made sure to show tons of art because just like my book, I wanted my campaign to be a feast for the eyes. A place where you don’t want to leave. You want to hang out and appreciate all the cool art and fun text. My invisible character Heidi even makes a little joke in the campaign that you won’t find in the book! All of this was inspired by and is reflected in Monster M.D. The campaign should immediate feel as fun as your book. Or as dark. As sexy. Whatever you’re selling – make sure your campaign communicates that visually and verbally throughout. It also creates a unity of branding and style that people appreciate and see as professional marketing whether they’re conscious of it or not.
10. HYPE DAILY AND CREATE NEW WAYS TO HYPE THE SAME THING
It felt not unlike juggling. Every day, multiple times a day I would hype art and sketches and concepts – whatever I could get my grubby fingers on so I had something new to use as a hook for someone out there while maintaining the fun levels on my twitter. I should have been making youtube videos but with my work schedule and job doing a lot of video editing for hours for all the videos would have cut too deeply into my production on the comic. I wasn’t about to sacrifice my books quality just to generate more people. I wanted the best book I could make, but you if you can schedule it in try to run an exciting youtube. The only reason I’m not going off about Youtube is that I didn’t really use it for my campaign so I’m trying to best show you what I did without it – even though having one is very, very important. I had to come up with new ways to use the same art which becomes a fun challenge. One day it could be a NEW PAGE, but another it’s a joke about the page, a caption contest to drive engagement, or a shout out to how great my artists are (and they are). Also, my book has the advantage of being monster based. You know how many jokes and Gifs and fun has been made with monsters over the years? It was one of the marketing advantages of my idea. Find Gifs on twitter or other interesting ways to generate hype daily. Memes are great too. One time I did a Heidi take over for a week or so to shake things up. Having a character from the book interact with fans on twitter was a hilarious hit with everyone. I’d say also look up how other comic pros promote their books but so many of them seldom do any real promotion these days. When you hit creative milestones like finishing the inked pages, or letters, or getting a finished page – tell everyone. Get them as entranced with your progress as you are. It builds excitement to see something being made.
9. WHILE YOU HYPE BECOME PART OF THE COMMUNITY
One thing everyone told me was that no one could go a day without seeing some Monster M.D. action. I had interacted with amazing people and artists for a while and had slowly become a small part of the community. And they were seeing my book and better they were passing it around. They were talking about it. They were becoming my first fans and from there you can spread out. I had so much fun hyping this because it was more than just ads, it was personal involvement with amazing people. Which reminds me of a rule to hyping: Positivity. Don’t take part in drama and the weekly falling outs people may have. Stay positive. Help take people’s minds off the drama with the fun of your book and it’s production or your campaign.
10. ASK TO GO ON YOUTUBE CHANNELS
People don’t seem to get it, but yes, you have to ask to go on Youtube channels. It’s how pros know to help you out. Pros are cool as hell. Go to them. Ask. Get yourself all squared away in all the stuff I mentioned above and go in there with a confidence that shakes the heavens.
11. ALWAYS BE OPEN TO LEARNING
If your first campaign fails, no worries. You will have learned a lot from it. Before you launch you’re studying up. You’re practicing different pitches. You’re dropping your longline and tagline like they’re hot. You’re making sure your campaign is perfect in every way. And the entire way, you’re open and learning. You’re paying attention to what works and what doesn’t and being honest about it. You’re learning way beyond what tid bits I leave your with here so that your next campaign will be even more astounding.
Thanks for reading. See you on the campaign trail.