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Robert W. Hickey – Building a Fan Base

“It isn’t my job to build you a fan base.” The publisher.

Many creators believe that it is the job of a publisher to build a readership for their project or books.

Not true. 

Let’s look at different scenarios and see how creators and publishers can work better together to maximize sales and build a readership.

First, if you’re a creator working for a large publisher, you may think that it isn’t as important to work on building a fan base but you’d be wrong. You need to look long-term and remember that at some point in time may not be working with a large publisher. Instead, you may work with a small publisher or even self-publish.

So you want to develop a relationship with your readers using social media and conventions. This is to help you sell original artwork and other items for extra income when you’re working with the large publisher but also some of your fan base will follow you to your next project. The larger your audience, the more valuable you may be as a creator to a publisher on a future project that needs a kickstart.

The publisher on the other hand is not only looking to cover the costs of production of the book and make a profit, but also to get exposure for their characters. They realize that at some point you may move on to another project or leave the company and they still have to promote their projects and characters. 

So, is it in the best interest of the publisher to build an audience for a creator who may move on at some point and time in the future? No.

Now, lets look at a mid-to-small publisher. From my own experience, working with a mid-range publisher is about the same as a small publisher. Actually, a small publisher has more on the line and will sometimes put more effort into the project.

These publisher are doing the solicitations, advertising, printing and shipping of their project(s). Usually it’s only one or two people doing all of these jobs. Depending on how many projects they have some promotions being sent out as press releases to comicbook news sites and other outlets. (I would also send my own press releases this way making a direct connection with the outlets and allowing them to contact you for preview pages and future interviews.

A mid-range publisher will offer your book and most of the time expect you to promote and reach out to stores. They will do the basics to promote your project along with the many other projects they are offering. Remember, the mid-range publisher is looking to make money by offering several projects and make a profit from each title.

Like a larger publisher, they may hire you to work on their own characters or they may offer to publish your characters for either a percentage of ownership or a good part of the profits.  If your book hits a home run in sales, then you won’t have any problem getting whole series printed as long as it fits within their trade publication packaging system.

A small publisher can help you get your project in the distributor’s monthly catalog and make it available online and or by direct download from the publishers website. It’s easier to work with a small publisher but don’t expect them to bring much of a readership. You will have to do many of the things, press releases, social media and conventions yourself.

The difference between a small publisher and self-publishing is that the publisher helps to distribute and get the project printed.

Just do it online. The most simple way to get your project seen and build a fan base is to build a WordPress site and post it online. Remember, the more often you post helps bring the readers back to your site. The biggest benefit we have now is social media and sharing links.

So, it isn’t the publishers job to build you a fan base. If you want to be successful and have a long career in comics you need to wear many hats including that of a creator and a promoter at all times. One of the hardest things is switching from one to the other, but we will help by showing you methods that help you spend time creating and also build your micro fan base to help support you in your creative adventures.