Promotionally Speaking

The Almighty Dollar…
Posted on Monday, December 27, 2010 1:49 PM
As we wrap up the holiday season, everyone is either staring at their empty wallets or avoiding their mailboxes, awaiting those holiday credit card bills. For comic book creators, plans are being formed for the new year. How will you afford the costs associated with producing, printing AND promoting your comic or web comic?

Prior to even just a year ago, creators were forced to either scrimp and save or borrow the money to make their dreams come true. However in 2010, a new way to raise these funds emerged. Similar to the telethons of yesteryear, three websites help creators in a variety of mediums and industries by giving them a venue to conduct fundraising campaigns. The concept is simple – creators of every genre, medium and industry showcase their project or event, set a fundraising goal, offer pledge incentives and supporters donate money towards the project, entitling them to the incentives posted by the creator. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Ummm not really.

Before embarking on this particular adventure in the creation process, the challenge includes not only what website to use but also the timing and the incentives. For new projects from unknown creators, the incentives offered are probably the most critical. What can you offer that will encourage people to contribute to your project? But before we go there (which will be next week’s blog BTW), let’s compare the three websites that provide this amazing and ingenious service: Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and SoKap.

Kickstarter.com was the first on the scene offering this online fundraising service. Besides comics, Kickstarter offers fundraising options to Art, Comedy, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Food, Games, Journalism, Music, Photography, Technology, Theater and Writing & Publishing. Remember the fundraising goal I mentioned earlier? Well, this is what sets Kickstarter apart from the others. You see, with Kickstarter, the goal creators set must be achieved in order for the pledges to be paid out. If you choose this service, you will need to pay even closer attention to your incentives and promotions (see next week’s blog). The other difference with using Kickstarter is your project needs to be approved before you can post it and you must be set up on Amazon’s Flexible Payment Service. Because of their all-or-nothing approach, other payment methods are off limits.

Now on to IndieGoGo. I have been promoting campaigns on both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo but I have personally used IndieGoGo to actually set up a campaign. While my campaign is going slower than anticipated (see next week’s blog on timing), I found IndieGoGo to be very easy to set up. Projects do not need to be approved, you can post videos and pictures and most importantly, when supporters pledge to projects, creators keep all the funds raised. The difference occurs in the fees assessed. Kickstarter charges 5% to all successful campaigns PLUS fees assessed by Amazon. For transactions less than $10, Amazon charges and additional 5% plus 5 cents per transaction. For transactions greater than $10, Amazon charges 5% plus 30 cents per transaction. IndieGoGo, on the other hand, structures their fees differently. Since you do not have to actually achieve your fundraising goal, IndieGoGo assesses their fees based on that factor. Upfront, each pledge a project receives is assessed a 9% fee plus the fees assessed by Paypal. If the project is successful in achieving its fundraising goal, IndieGoGo retroactively refunds 5% to the creator. Pledgers also have the option to pay with a credit card and IndieGoGo electronically transfers the funds at the completion of the campaign.

Let’s now discuss the new kid on the block…SoKap.com. SoKap stands for social capital and it embraces the concept of crowdfunding by combining the best parts of Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. On SoKap, creators have the option to categorize their project into one of the following: Start-up, Project, Events and Market-Ready. With the first three categories. the system is similar to Kickstarter in that the set fundraising goal must be achieved in order for payout to occur. With Market-Ready campaigns, payment is instant as those projects are for products already in existence and creators use SoKap as a storefront. All projects on SoKap need to be approved and all funds raised are in Canadian dollars. The fees associated with SoKap are comparable to the other two services: 5% plus 3% credit card processing fee. SoKap uses neither Paypal or Amazon for their payment processing. SoKap does offer a feature that so far is unprecedented. In addition to setting up various levels of pledging, creators can also pay commissions to supporters who help promote their fundraising campaigns. The down side to SoKap is it is new; many creators either don’t know about it or its project-approval process is very slow. Only two projects so far have signed up to use this service, while Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have thousands of campaigns runnimg.

Before launching any fundraising campaign, I suggest reviewing the features and benefits of all three sites. Depending on your project, one may offer features that are more crucial than the others. And as I said earlier, there are other factors to consider as well. Join me next week as we discuss goal-setting, incentives, timing of your campaign and effective promotion options.

Why is self publishing taboo?
Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 11:44 AM
After working in the comic book industry for four years, I have come to learn one thing. The number of self publishers is growing by leaps and bounds, and the respect for them is improving. Most importantly, the tools needed to be a self publisher are more readily available. If this is the case, then why hasn’t the same tendency migrated to the fiction and non-fiction genres?

As you may have heard me talk about on this blog and on my Facebook, I have recently taken on two novelist clients. One is self-publishing and the other is seeking a publisher, with self publishing set up as a Plan B. For my self publishing client, Keith & Sandra Johnson and their book, Paranormal Realities II, I have spent the better part of this last week researching blogs and review websites. I was shocked and (at first) irritated to find that 80% of the bloggers and reviewers outright refuse to review self published work. Fortunately for my sanity, I have not faced the same obstacle on the comic book side so I set on a quest to find out why. To understand the aversion to self publishers, I emailed a few of these bloggers who refuse to review the works of my hard-working clients. Before I received their responses, I sort of prepared myself for their wrath. I knew what they were going to say but I kept an open mind. Here is what they said, paraphrased:

We do not review self published work because we find most of them are not edited, to the point that as soon as you start reading there are spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. Some are so bad that you cannot even figure out what they are trying to say. In addition, most of the books we’ve received are not organized and designed in a professional manner.

Now I am not going to rebut their claims because I’ve seen it for myself. But I’ve also seen it on the comic book side as well. To quote from my previous blog, “For writers, every word you put down on paper is a reflection of you.” Well it seems as if the unedited words of those before have become a reflection of every self publisher. But the question remains how do we change that perception that all self published works are garbled pieces of garbage?

Most novelists have chosen to give up and seek a publisher, who they can hold accountable for the editing and graphic design of their works. I say if the comic book industry can tackle this obstacle, so can the fiction and non-fiction industry. But we all need to work together. Networking has been the major solution for comic book creators. Writers have paired with artists who have photoshop skills. Those skills have helped to assemble their final product for print. Why can’t the same thing happen on the prose side? Graphic designers, you could have a pretty lucrative business just offering your services to design books for novelists, without charging an exorbitant amount to each.

The next step to fixing the problem falls on the writers themselves. I won’t repeat all of the advice I gave in my last blog; I will just say “Read my last blog.”

The final step falls on the shoulders of bloggers. I know you get swamped with requests for reviews. However, instead of refusing to review self publishers all together, could you maybe spotlight one self publisher a month? While you have seen so many properties that are “a mess,” there are so many that are great works. Those writers have taken the professional steps to produce quality products; they have just chosen to retain their creative rights, control their distribution and handle their own marketing. Their efforts are admirable.

I would love to hear the opinions of others on this topic. My senses tell me it is a hot topic. Please feel free to share your thoughts!

Makingthe First Impresion
Posted on Thursday, November 18, 2010 3:10 PM
Wow – what was wrong with me when I typed that subject line?? Hopefully you all are still reading this blog!

Those of you who know me know my typing sucks. I am an excellent speller and have an excellent handle on grammar. And I can spot errors in books a mile away. My problem is two-fold: 1. like I said, my typing sucks, and 2. I try to type too fast. So I have to make the extra effort to check my work. And I still make mistakes. In fact, I have had to backspace a dozen times just to type this paragraph.

When you produce a comic book, graphic novel or piece of fiction, the way in which your present your story is often more critical than what you say. Frequent spelling mistakes, even minor typos, cause your brilliant, thought-provoking story to be a jumbled mess with little to no credibility. Poor grammar and paragraph structure could mean the difference between your work being published and being tossed in the trash. And if you’re a blogger like me, these preventable mistakes could impact the successful delivery of your message.

Hopefully if you are an author, or a blogger, you aren’t rummaging through every piece of writing you’ve ever completed. My intention in discussing this topic is not to make you paranoid; it’s to make you conscious. If you know you don’t fit the profile of an excellent speller, grammar expert or professional typist, there are steps you can take to ensure that your work is spotless and picture-perfect. Here are some that I practice and suggest to friends and clients.

1.Always type your work in a word processing software that has a grammar and spell check. Make sure these options are turned on. Let’s say you use Microsoft Word, this software will check your work as you type. A red line under a word means you spelled the word wrong. A green lime under a word, phrase or sentence means a grammar error has occurred, mostly likely an incomplete sentence. And, a blue line, I noticed just recently, means you have potentially used the wrong word for what you were trying to say, i.e. hear vs. here.
2.When you have completed your writing, read your piece aloud. Now this technique is going to take some practice. Since you are the writer, your natural inclination is going to be to read what you meant to say and how you know it should read. So you need to train yourself to read word for word exactly what is on the screen or paper. In doing so, you will pick up on grammar mistakes and missing words instantly. But again, the trick is you must read aloud word for word.
3.Bring in a second set of eyes. This tip is most critical for publishing writers, prose and fiction. If financially feasible, hire a professional editor or proofreader. It has been established that one of the primary deficiencies of a self-published author is the lack of professional editing. In my opinion, there should be no difference between a self-published and a third party published author when it comes to the quality of your content. Now for bloggers, this tip may not always be the logical advice. Often your posts are too frequent and timely to take time for a third party review. In that case, rely heavily on tips one and two. I suggest that you not type directly into your blog spot, but copy and paste from a word processing software as mentioned above.

For writers, every word you put down on paper is a reflection of you. It is often the first impression you make to a publisher, editor and even a potential fan. Over the past few weeks, I have had access to a number of scripts submitted to a publisher in efforts of securing a writing position. It both shocked and disappointed me to see that many of these “resume” scripts were unedited and riddled with errors.

A special note to comic book writers: It is important to edit your scripts before handing them over to your artist. But it is just as, if not more important, to proofread your story after it has been lettered. In fact, it should be proofread by at least two people to ensure it is error-free.

I hope these tips are beneficial to you in your writing endeavors. I have done a ton of editing and proofreading in the last few weeks. It is a very tediouys process, especially with prose. But there is nothing more rewarding than to read a book or a graphic novel that is perfect, especially to the creator. Oh and the promoter likes it too!

Will You Draw My Comic?
Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 12:37 PM
Hey Folks!

Sorry the blog is a few days late! Time is getting a bit tight the closer we get to New York Comic Con. I’ve also had the chance to speak to a few potential clients. Keeping fingers crossed – I’m getting closer and closer to my goal.

But now on to our topic for the week – turning your well-developed concept into a live comic!

When choosing an artist, there are so many things to consider. Primarily, you should definitely have a good visual idea of the style of art you are looking for. When you send out your solicitation for artists, you will get bombarded with portfolios and samples of candidates’ works. It can be very overwhelming. Knowing what you’re looking for can streamline the process.

Once you have that visual expectation planned, it’s time to send out a solicitation for submissions. To see the candidate’s prior work, you can decide to accept attachments or links. My recommendation would be links. Attachments could clog up your email quick. When submitting to work on your project, artists should also specify their page rate. We’ll talk about budget in a minute but it’s very important to capture this info at the submission phase. Once you’ve composed your announcement, I’d suggest utilizing Facebook, DeviantArt.com, DigitalWebbing.com and WorkInComics.com to distribute your announcement.

The next thing to consider when selecting artists is determining if they can draw your characters. If your main characters are simple humans, this may not be as critical. But if you have a horror, science fiction or fantasy property, knowing your selected artist can best represent your character is just as important as seeing examples of previous work. The best way to accomplish this is to audition your candidates, but not everyone. Like the American Idol auditions, you will receive submissions from everyone from talented artists, folks with potential and those who think they can draw. The best way to approach the process is to select the top 5 or 10 candidates and audition them. Make sure you give them a deadline.

Now – about page rates. Creators, you will receive submissions from artists with page rate standards ranging from miniscule to astronomical. Before even considering a candidate at the page rate level, you should already have an idea of what you can afford and what you can’t. If your intention is to work collaboratively and not pay the candidate, please say it upfront in your solicitation, The number of candidates you receive may be less but you may find the quality to be just as good and the passion to be greater. And please, do not post in your solicitation that compensation will be in the form of sharing profits. Guess what? In small press/self publishing, there are VERY LITTLE profits, if any. By offering this form of compensation, discontent and frustration will eventually develop, leading to resentment. Be honest with your candidates and think outside the box. Offer them comp copies so the artist can sell them at conventions. This is a much better alternative than offering them something that may never happen.

Before I end for this week, I’d like to speak directly to the artists.

Creators put criteria in their submission guidelines for a reason. If you want to be considered for the job, it is in your best interest to follow those guidelines to the letter. Also be professional. Don’t just send an email with a link to your work without introducing yourself and at minimum, indicating what job you’re applying for. And lastly, price yourself based on your talent and your credits. If you have no experience in sequential art but want a shot to try, don’t price yourself at a $100 a page. It’s likely you will not even be considered.

In the coming weeks, this blog will be used for press releases and other assorted news, gearing up for NYCC. SJS Comic Promotions will be in Booth 641, representing 6 studios. If any studio is looking for representation at New York Comic Con, the deadline is this Friday, September 17th. Please send me an email to inquire.

Promotionally Speaking Revisited
Small Press Celebrates 5th Annual New York Comic Con
Posted on Thursday, September 23, 2010 11:44 AM
Press Release
Small Press Celebrates 5th Annual New York Comic Con
Warwick, RI, September 27, 2010: In honor of the 5 annual New York Comic Con, comic promoter Susan Soares has announced plans for the company’s first appearance as an exhibitor. Soares, who owns SJS Comic Promotions, will be hosting six of her clients, some of whom will be debuting new and exclusive properties. Slated to appear at the SJS booth include:

•Dandelion Studios – Based on Cape Cod, Dandelion Studios is a small press publishing company under the direction of Rick Silva and Gynn Stella. Rick is proud to be appearing at NYCC 2010 to debut Stone #1. The 2nd title to be added to the studio’s Quarterstaff Comics imprint, Stone is a tale of ordinary people pressed to do the extraordinary for the sake of their friends and their country. It’s the story of a different kind of warrior. The kind you can believe in.
•DarkBrain.com – DarkBrain.com is a new web comic studio featuring over 240 pages of FREE content from 12 different series. Each comic has graphic novel quality art and a great story – plus voice-over narration, original music and user choices and preferences that change the story itself. DarkBrain’s publisher, Andrew Zar is eager to spread the word of his exciting venture at NYCC 2010 and will be available all weekend to greet fans.
•Fallenmage Productions – Mild telecommunications worker by day, cartoonist by night, Joe McGlone has been drawing since he was a kid and is currently trying to make a stab at it on a professional level. His latest published project is Leaves of Yggdrasil, a modern fantasy about growing up and self-discovery. Joe is also actively working on Beyond the Dark, an epic horror web comic available at http://www.beyondthedark.com. Joe will be appearing to celebrate the launch of Beyond the Dark on October 4th.
•Jolly Rogue Studios – Celebrating his 3rd appearance at New York Comic Con, creator Everett Soares will be signing copies of his nationally distributed graphic novel as well as his first issue of Valendor Chronicles, an anthology of short stories. Everett is also eager to share with attendees his newly-launched web comic, which debuted on September 19.
•Three J Productions – Hailing from West Haven, CT, Three J Productions is the brainchild of creator and publisher, Carl Herring Jr. Making his second appearance at New York Comic Con 2010, Carl is coming with a brand new series launched, The Enforcers. Carl will be appearing with the re-released Issue #0 and Issue One of The Enforcers series, as well as his 2009 release, Crime Wave Anthology Vol. 1.
•Unstoppable Comics – Celebrating his very first convention appearance, creator and publisher Jay Dee Rosario is appearing at the SJS Comic Promotions booth to debut Dragonstorm Issue #0.

In addition to the clients appearing at the SJS Comic Promotions Booth, the comic promoter announced Big Bone Studios, another client of the company, will be appearing at New York Comic Con. Big Bone Studios is a collaboration of like-minded individuals with a single goal – to create original, high quality, comic art and stories… and to take over the world. To celebrate their first appearance at New York Comic Con, Mike Desjarlais and David House have been working diligently on American Corpse #1. They will be offering a free copy of the Preview Issue to fans who stop by their Small Press Booth #355.

In addition to supporting her clients and meeting fans throughout the weekend, Soares plans to network with media outlets to arrange interviews for her clients. She will also be focused on meeting other creators in the Small Press section of the exhibit floor and Artists Alley. Creators looking to meet with Soares for a consultation can do so by either visiting the SJS Comic Promotions Booth #641 or contact her before the convention via email at susan.soares1971@gmail.com.

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I was interviewed!
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2010 7:06 AM
http://warriorinnkeepercomics.blogspot.com/2010/09/soaring-with-susan-soares-into-comic.html

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Press Release Writing & Distribution!
Posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010 12:50 PM
Just a quick blog post to let you know I am offering a Press Release Writing & Distribution Service to all exhibitors of New York Comic Con. The 2nd largest comic book convention is being held Oct. 8 to 10 and there will be over 300 artists on Artists Alley and over 80 small press publishers on the main floor. That doesn’t even include the premium and retail exhibitors. If you’re showcasing a special product or event, or debuting a new property, you need a press release to let attendees know you’ll be there ahead of time!

I am offering to compose your press release and distribute the release nationwide and to over 300 comic media outlets. I have a proven track record that these outlets post news that I send them. I’ve spent the last 4 years establishing my reputation with them to make that happen.

To take advantage of this special offer, send an email to me directly at susan.soares1971@gmail.com with a description of your company, information about your special announcement and media contact information. Deadline is September 24 and all press releases will be distributed the week of September 27.

Click here to pay for the service!

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Will You Draw My Comic?
Posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 12:37 PM
Hey Folks!

Sorry the blog is a few days late! Time is getting a bit tight the closer we get to New York Comic Con. I’ve also had the chance to speak to a few potential clients. Keeping fingers crossed – I’m getting closer and closer to my goal.

But now on to our topic for the week – turning your well-developed concept into a live comic!

When choosing an artist, there are so many things to consider. Primarily, you should definitely have a good visual idea of the style of art you are looking for. When you send out your solicitation for artists, you will get bombarded with portfolios and samples of candidates’ works. It can be very overwhelming. Knowing what you’re looking for can streamline the process.

Once you have that visual expectation planned, it’s time to send out a solicitation for submissions. To see the candidate’s prior work, you can decide to accept attachments or links. My recommendation would be links. Attachments could clog up your email quick. When submitting to work on your project, artists should also specify their page rate. We’ll talk about budget in a minute but it’s very important to capture this info at the submission phase. Once you’ve composed your announcement, I’d suggest utilizing Facebook, DeviantArt.com, DigitalWebbing.com and WorkInComics.com to distribute your announcement.

The next thing to consider when selecting artists is determining if they can draw your characters. If your main characters are simple humans, this may not be as critical. But if you have a horror, science fiction or fantasy property, knowing your selected artist can best represent your character is just as important as seeing examples of previous work. The best way to accomplish this is to audition your candidates, but not everyone. Like the American Idol auditions, you will receive submissions from everyone from talented artists, folks with potential and those who think they can draw. The best way to approach the process is to select the top 5 or 10 candidates and audition them. Make sure you give them a deadline.

Now – about page rates. Creators, you will receive submissions from artists with page rate standards ranging from miniscule to astronomical. Before even considering a candidate at the page rate level, you should already have an idea of what you can afford and what you can’t. If your intention is to work collaboratively and not pay the candidate, please say it upfront in your solicitation, The number of candidates you receive may be less but you may find the quality to be just as good and the passion to be greater. And please, do not post in your solicitation that compensation will be in the form of sharing profits. Guess what? In small press/self publishing, there are VERY LITTLE profits, if any. By offering this form of compensation, discontent and frustration will eventually develop, leading to resentment. Be honest with your candidates and think outside the box. Offer them comp copies so the artist can sell them at conventions. This is a much better alternative than offering them something that may never happen.

Before I end for this week, I’d like to speak directly to the artists.

Creators put criteria in their submission guidelines for a reason. If you want to be considered for the job, it is in your best interest to follow those guidelines to the letter. Also be professional. Don’t just send an email with a link to your work without introducing yourself and at minimum, indicating what job you’re applying for. And lastly, price yourself based on your talent and your credits. If you have no experience in sequential art but want a shot to try, don’t price yourself at a $100 a page. It’s likely you will not even be considered.

In the coming weeks, this blog will be used for press releases and other assorted news, gearing up for NYCC. SJS Comic Promotions will be in Booth 641, representing 6 studios. If any studio is looking for representation at New York Comic Con, the deadline is this Friday, September 17th. Please send me an email to inquire.

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I Really Want to Create a Comic!
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2010 6:40 PM
This seems to be the theme of the week for me and so I thought I’d write my weekly blog about this topic.

There are tons of creative people in the world, whether it be creative ideas or artistically creative. It’s natural for these people to want to do something and with that creativity. And it seems to be very common among comic book fans to have the burning desire to create their own comic book. An amazing goal nonetheless but there are so many pieces of the puzzle that many don’t realize.

This topic is such a huge one, I am going to break it down. Today I am just going to talk about the concept phase since this should be your first step anyway. Ok so you have this great idea. The first recommendation I would like to make to anyone who has an idea…write it down. Yup, the whole thing. Why? First this is how you will formulate your scripts and your plan. Second reason to write your idea is to ensure you have a fully fleshed out idea that has a beginning, middle and end.

Why do I have to have a plan?

Well you want your story to make sense, right? You also want readers to read your books. So some things to consider in your plan include:

•who are your characters, ie protagonist and antagonist
•how many issues will your story fit in
•will you write it in single issue format or graphic novel
•if it’s an ongoing series, will you write in story arcs and then collect them into a trade paperback

Once you have these questions answered, you can start writing your scripts. With a variety of different ways to write scripts, you have the ability to find a method that works for you. Check out http://www.scriptfrenzy.org/eng/overview for sample scripts and other tools to help you build your concept and story.

Next week I will discuss finding talent for your story. In the meantime, feel free to email me questions on the topic of building your concept.

Until next time!

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