Research, Research, Research: Distribution: Diamond Comic Distributors Now What? Part One: Comic in PreviewsA column article by: Ace Masters
You have already achieved something by completing your graphic novel or first issue of you mini-series or series? Check.
You have achieved something by actually submitting your project to Diamond? Double Check.
You have achieved even more by getting your title accepted by Diamond for Distribution and now it will be listed in Previews? Hell yeah! Triple Check!
Achievements galore, you should be proud.
Now another waiting game begins. You have to wait for the Previews with your title listed to hit stores, then you have to wait at least forty-five days before getting your Purchase Order (P.O.) from Diamond. The Purchase Order is Diamond’s official order form they will send you that lists the details of how many copies of your title they are ordering, due dates for delivery of the order and terms of how much Diamond will pay for the order.
At this point the question becomes "Now What?"
Do you sit back and wait, agonizing everyday hoping and praying that Diamond orders a few thousand copies?
Not if you want good sales, or want anyone to know about your title.
"Now What?," has a simple answer: Use the time constructively.
Do NOT just sit and wait for the P.O. Now the real make or break point begins. Keep in mind that Previews lists thousands of items per month. Your title will have a listing on one page somewhere in the Indie section.
Your job just became threefold:
- Let RETAILERS know about your title.
- Let FANS know about your title.
- Follow up on your title.
Let’s start with number three this time, as this is the easiest to cover, and depending on what format your title is, could be quick and easy, or the first step in a long journey.
3. Follow up on your title
.Is your title a graphic novel or one-shot? Great. Right now you need do nothing more concerning this point. Get to work on letting people know your title is available for order now! Move on to number two and one!
If your title is not a graphic novel or one-shot, you have some extra work to do. Ideally, you should already have the second issue done and at least the third in the works, if not finished. Follow up on future issues quickly. DO NOT submit a first issue to Diamond for distribution just to get sales and see how it goes before working on the next issue (s).
2. Let FANS know about your title.
You should already have been doing a lot of promotion, letting people know about your title. You should have already started promoting with a minimum of a website, blog and with social media sites. And as covered in "How best you can use Diamond?" you should have already started exploiting Diamond’s services.
No matter what you have done to this point, it’s time to step it up big time to get the word out to the world that you are here.
The following are just some of the things you might want to do:
- Press Release - Remember the press release mentioned in "How Best to Submit to Diamond?" It’s time to send that press release out world-wide. First though, modify and do a little re-writing to include the Previews Page Listing and Order Number for your title. This is a must.
- Review Copies - Make sure you have preview copies available, PDF’s and some short print run copies ready for mailing. Get these ready, bag and board your hard copies and get them ready for mailing.
- Contact all media - Comic book media, local media and mainstream media should be in your cross hairs. Mail or e-mail your press package to everybody. If you mail hard copy press package to places include a cover letter telling them about yourself, your title - and that you are available for interviews, etc, - your press release, and an advance copy of the title.
If you send the press package by e-mail – most common these days – your e-mail should be the cover letter with links included to the press release and advance copy of your title. Do not attach PDF’s to your e-mail. Not only can that clog up some editors mailboxes, but many editors will delete e-mails with attachment without looking at them, for the fear of viruses. There are a few different way to include links to materials: you can insert links that only downloads directly from your website, or you can use services like yousendit or dropbox.
Comic Book Media is your main target, magazine like Comic Buyer’s Guides, Comic Shop News, Wizard and sites like ComicsBulletin.com., Comic Book Resources, etc,
Send your package out to all local newspapers and newsrooms. Local media loves a ‘local guy makes good story’ and you never know who might want to do an interview. All the publicity helps.
Mainstream media is your biggest target. Send your press package to ALL entertainment magazines, entertainment websites and major newspapers. Who knows Entertainment Weekly, IGN or the LA Times - which has their Hero Complex subside - just might take the bite.
Do this and you will get some coverage in the form of interviews, articles about you and your title and even reviews of your title. However, never expect to get any coverage. Ask for coverage and always make sure in your cover letter and press release to let everyone know that you are available for interviews and that review copies of your title (hard copy and PDFs) are readily available.
- Social Networking - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others should be exploited. Get on each of these and spread the word about your title and how it can be order. Put social networking to good use.
- Conventions - If there is a good convention being held while the Previews with your title is on shelves, get a booth if you can. Set up and promote the book, have preview copies for sale, hand out flyers and let everyone know the title is available through their local retailer. Of course you should try and work every convention around this time that you can.
Encourage potential readers to order through their store.
Keep in mind that conventions are also an extremely important networking opportunity to get to know stores, other publishers and even meet people from Diamond face to face.
- Advertising - If you can afford, get ads on comic book websites, in other indie comics and in magazines.
1. Let RETAILERS know about your title.
Here is the trickiest part of the game, getting the retailers’ attention. Every company out there wants the retailer to order their title. And there is no way every retailer can possible know about every title coming out.
By default most retailers order what they know will sell and what their customers subscribe to. Many retailers are adverse to indie titles in the first place and that is just a sad fact of the business.
What you need to do now is introduce yourself to the retailer and educate them about your title.
- Call Stores - Calling stores is a monumental task. If you don’t want to attempt to call every store, you can narrow it done. Make a list of all the major comic book chain stores in the country - Things From Another Word, Graham Cracker, New England Comics, Mile High - and major well know stores - Midtown Comics, Golden Apple. Then make a second list, choose the five largest markets - Chicago, Florida, Texas, New York/New Jersey and California - and call those stores.
Talk to the owner or manager, tell them about you, your title and let them know you are listed in Previews.
- Mail Promotional Package - You want to send out promotional packages to every store possible, including all that you called. Focus on the ones you called first, especially those who were receptive.
You package should include the following: press release, advance promotional copy of your title, poster version of the cover and a cover letter.
If you only have 50 copies of the advance promotional copy of your title, that’s fine. Send out as many packets as you can with the promotional copy. Once you run out, continue sending out the packet with the press release and poster.
However, retain some copies of the advanced promotional copy of your title back for your visits to local stores.
- Visit Local Stores - Visit every store in your area. Introduce yourself in person and bring promotional materials with you. Most stores are very open to putting up posters and place free promo items on their shelves. After all, if someone orders the title, it makes them money.
- Set local in-store signings - While visiting local stores, trying to set up a signing. Odds are that one store will agree.
- Post Card Follow Up - Two to three weeks after calling stores and sending out promotional material, follow up with a post card to each retailer. The postcard should remind them about the title and urge them to order it.
This cannot be stress enough: include the Diamond Order Number for your title and what page the title is listed on in Previews on everything.
This makes ordering the title easier for retailers. If you give them all the info they need when you approach them - in person or via mailed promotional materials - they don’t have to search for the info, they already have. Score one for you.
For readers it gives them an extra incentive to tell their local retailer they want a copy and they can give the retailer the order info if needed.
Remember you job is two-fold. You want to get the retailer to place an order for your title, so you want to make sure they know about it. The trickier part is the reader. Too often most people simply expect to automatically find your title on shelves and do not bother telling their retailer they want a copy.
When promotion to readers, you have to try - the best you can - to get them to go to the store and actually ask the retailer to order your title for them.
Diamond sent you the P.O. and you have fulfilled it. It’s Wednesday and it’s the day your book hit shelves, now what do you do?