SIGNAL BOOST: The Power of Comic Retailers in a Single Graph
Interesting analysis dept:
We purchased some ads and sponsorships to promote UMBRAL Book One. Everything — clickthroughs, sponsor reads, the lot — points to theumbral.com, the official site, so we could track it.
I’m pretty happy with how it worked out. It’s impossible to say if it actually affected sales, of course. Advertising is a nebulous beast at the best of times. But from the clicks we got, it appears to have definitely helped spread awareness, which can only be a good thing.
But here’s what’s interesting. As you can see from the graphic, our hits were rolling along at a fairly steady pace. Every so often we’d peak or trough a little, but it was pretty steady…
…Until Page 45 made us their Book of the Month. (Page 45 is a prominent store in England.) That’s what the huge spike at the end is, there. And I checked; that spike is almost entirely direct/organic, not referrals from ads or sponsor pages.
THIS IS THE POWER COMIC RETAILERS HAVE. It’s hard to think of another entertainment industry, outside perhaps music in the ’70s with the traditional old record store, where an audience places so much faith in retailers and their recommendations.
Retailers know this, and good retailers use it to promote books that their clientele might otherwise miss.
Everyone knows there’s a new BATMAN book this month, a new issue of SPIDER-MAN next week, etc. But SHELTERED, or DEAD BODY ROAD, or SOVEREIGN, or UNDERTOW? Not many people know those books even exist, let alone their publishing schedule. And their best chance to find out is if their retailer informs them.
This is why comic creators ask you to pre-order; to tell your retailers you’re interested in a book; and why we focus so much of our own attention on reaching out to retailers, rather than readers themselves. Because the biggest problem almost all comics face is not piracy, or demographics, or any of that nonsense; it’s obscurity.
And that begins right on the retailer’s shelf. If a book isn’t there in the store, most customers won’t even know it could be, much less try to find it elsewhere.
The problem for retailers, in turn, is the sheer number of books released every month. It’s hard enough for a large retailer to keep up with everything published, let alone for the hundreds of small, independent stores that make up most of the direct market.
What’s the solution? Well, if everyone except me and my friends stopped making comics, that would be nice ;) But honestly, I have no idea. All I can do, as a creator, is keep on making the best books I can, and try to make sure as many people as possible know about them.
Beyond that, it’s in the hands of retailers and readers… but mostly retailers.