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1. On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, Valiant

ComiXology’s Chip Mosher of Marketing and PR moderated a panel with Jeremy Atkins of Dark Horse, Dirk Wood of IDW, Mel Caylo of Archaia, and addition Hunter Gorinson of Valiant Comics with the goal of sharing tips and pro experience with indie creators and future marketers on Friday, March 29th at WonderCon. The result was quite an entertaining panel featuring their professional blunders and secret discoveries about he ins and outs of comics promotion.

mbrittany gorinson mosher 300x160 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantMosher started out by asking for the embarrassing stories each had accrued in their work experience, “professional blunders” that contained teachable moments. Atkins admitted to the cringeworthy common mishap of hitting “reply all” on an email and copying a person specifically to be excluded from a conversation, with plenty of sympathetic groans from the audience. Mosher’s own tale of woe was equally relatable, reading an e-mail from Emerald City Con and then forgetting to reply afterward, thereby losing booth space for BOOM that year. Wood was more circumspect about his failures, noting that “25% of marketing is what I would call blunders” that can lead either to success or to a “thud”, and that he finds it impossible to tell which will happen in some circumstances. Persistence, he advised, is the key to forge ahead despite an unpredictable market.

Caylo dredged up his own worst moments with a story of “drunk tweeting” from the wrong account, declaring his love for someone, a tweet that remained up on a company account overnight whereas Gorinson stuck to the ever-present bugaboo of typos in press releases regardless of how many times the releases are checked before sending them out. Wood’s observation that some blunders can have positive results prompted the panel to consider whether they had similar lucky moments. Wood, particularly, “stumbled into successes” by having random, unlikely ideas for promotion like sending Godzilla costumed promo agents to “smash” stores, something that met with great success. The panel quickly turned interactive, fielding questions from the floor, and the first question, probably also the first on everyone’s mind, was how to run PR and marketing strategies on a shoe-string budget.

mbrittany caylo gorinson 300x142 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantMosher wittily commented, “This guy thinks that we have budgets” to his fellow panellists before Caylo took up the question with what became perhaps the strongest message of the panel event: “It’s all about relationships”. He suggested that those seeking press for comics go to shows, have e-mail conversations that are “not always pitching”, so that it’s easier when you do want to ask a favor to bring it up. He also added that “offer giveaways” on sites that increase “cross-promotion” are a very smart move. Atkins, who was particularly earnest and animated throughout the panel suggested that Twitter is a major player in promotion for building and continuing to cultivate professional relationships, including the retail industry in your list of contacts. Wood spoke to the indie creator’s situation trying to get books distributed. “Nothing speaks louder than a consignment situation”, he said, and pointed out that Top Shelf started through delivering consignment issues to comic shops, “giving books” to shops and allowing them to sell them rather than seeking solicitation. This involves “relentless beating of the pavement” since there is “no replacing grassroots”.

Atkins used this idea to springboard into a gambling metaphor: “In gambling and in life, you only win when you can afford to lose”. You shouldn’t expect return immediately, he warned, but trying different approaches and continuing to do so as long as possible is key. Mosher had strong feelings on the subject, reflecting on the example of a student protester who brough the New York Stock Exchange to a standstill by busking for dollar bills all day, then throwing a hundred bills onto the exchange floor. It was the perfect example, for Mosher, of “getting attention at low cost” and using the least resources to garner the “biggest impact”.

mbrittany atkins wood 1 300x159 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantGorinson focused on knowing your material and audience to get attention. Knowing the pitch well, and the many angles from which it might be interpreted, breaking out of narrow genre definitions, for instance, may win the day. He recommended top comics news sites as vehicles for spreading the word, as well as working “with anyone and everyone”, including small blog sites. Mosher’s experience at BOOM confirmed this premise. Starting out publishing only 4 to 7 books a month, he scoured blogs, put people in press lists, and sent them PDF review copies in an era before most comics companies were using PDFs in this way, and thereby grew a press list of 400 contacts.

Wood added that looking at comparable publishers and types of titles to the comic you are trying to circulate is a good starting point, looking to see how and where they are doing their marketing and focus your attack in that way. A common pitfall the panellists all agreed on is when creators send a pitch to a company for a comic series that’s a 12 issue proposal or longer. Companies aren’t willing to take the risk, they advised, and a 3-4 issue format is much more appealing at the outset of a project.

A follow up question from the audience regarded strategies to capitalize on the rash of superhero movies and growing movie fans who might never have read a comic. Several panellists felt that there’s no one single approach to bring film fans into comics, but a more surefire method is to “start them young”, reaching young readers with comics visual literacy. Mosher agreed, stating that there are more kids comics today than in the past decade, and comics continue to have unique qualities of storytelling that continue to appeal as a child grows up reading them. Gorinson added that Free Comic Book Day is an excellent opportunity to “get into as many shops as possible” and reach new, young readers. Mosher and Caylo both returned to the subject of cross promotion between films, tv, and comics, like the inclusion of ashcan comics in dvd box sets to show fans what comics alternatives are available for their favorite products.

mbrittany small press alley 300x180 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantA direct marketing question from the floor focused on the similarities or differences between selling comics and other products, like household items. Atkins felt there was very little difference at all, except that it’s more possible in comics to “know who that person is” you are targeting since “They are me, or some version of me”, as a comics fan. He continued with some other salient advice, such as “You have to believe in what you’re selling” and believe that you are “one of the best advocates for it”. Gorinson felt that marketing comics is different from marketing other consumer products because he often feels an “obligation” to live up to the quality of the work he’s promoting in his own efforts.

Gorinson and Atkins also suggested doing some research into major news sites to find out who on staff might be a comics fan, “finding” that contact, or locating dedicated geek blogging attached to news sites. Atkins and Mosher commented that using social media makes reaching out to news writers more and more direct. Mosher admitted that not everyone may have the desire or “skill set” to promote their comics properly despite attempts, and in that case, he advised, you should find a friend who thrives on that kind of work and collaborate on promotion.

The final big topic addressed by the panel, and one which inspired some lively reactions from the speakers, was the use of transmedia and multiple media formats to draw attention to comics. Caylo said that it’s all about “synergy” between comics, films, and related video games, based on his work at Archaia. Atkins clarified, however, that adding transmedia content to promote comics, such as an app or video game should still be “meaningful to the overall story.

mbrittany artist alley 300x256 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantI posed a last question to the panel before it came to a close, wondering what the biggest pros and cons are to using social media as a promotional tool. Gorinson replied that you have to be “clever” in different ways to use social media properly for this purpose, while Mosher commented simply, but with some emotion, “Trolls!” as his biggest con. Caylo was the most personally engaged by the question and gave the following run down: social media’s benefits are “accessibility” and the quickness and “ease” of getting the word out about your product, especially when doing it for free. The “dangers”, however, are that “You are open to trolls and people who want to bait you”. “Ignore them”, he recommended, since once they “engage” you, they’ve “got you”. Block them if necessary, and learn to take “the bad with the good” when it comes to social media.

The panel was surprisingly lively, with all the panellists more than willing to share from their personal struggles to find the golden balance when it comes to marketing with limited budgets, and each expressed an obvious commitment to the survival and growth of worthy comics through good strategies and trying innovative methods to see what works for each book and each particular situation. Building personal relationships, watching out for the wrong kind of blunders, and learning from them when they occur, were paramount for these indie publishing marketers.

 

Photo Credits: All photos in this article were taken by semi-professional photographer and pop culture scholar Michele Brittany. She’s an avid photographer of pop culture events. You can learn more about her photography and pop culture scholarship here.

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.

 

 

 

11 Comments on On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, Valiant, last added: 4/28/2013
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2. Meet The GennY 2012 Finalists: Part 2

The GennY Award recognizes best practices of those who have applied new and innovative techniques to connect and communicate with youth. The 2012 award will be given to one exceptional marketing campaign at the Millennial Mega Mashup next week, but... Read the rest of this post

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3.


Gift by Andrea J. Buchanan

Gift is an exciting new project being released today, from Andrea J. Buchanan, author of The Daring Book for Girls.  Gift is a new multimedia paranormal YA novel which includes music by Fredrik Larsson, as well as art, videos, triggered events, and a graphic novel story. There's even a soundtrack and a playable Minecraft map available for download. Gift is not being promoted specifically as a transmedia project, at least not that I've seen, but with the variety of media included, and the addition of other media like the Minecraft map, it seems to me that it could qualify as one.

The enhanced ebook with the full feature set is only available for iBooks on iOS devices, but the story itself is available for a variety of ebook platforms, including Kindle, Nook, and Google (you may be able to buy the Google book from your local independent bookseller).

I haven't read Gift yet, but plan to. I just wish I had an iPad so that I could have the full experience.

0 Comments on as of 3/27/2012 1:12:00 PM
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4. Scholastic Teams Up with Ruckus Media Group to Launch New Transmedia Imprint

Scholastic is teaming up with Ruckus Media Group to launch a new children’s transmedia imprint–utilizing different platforms to tell stories. The new imprint will also explore backlist titles with these new tools.

The Scholastic Ruckus imprint will publish books for all ages (from infants to teens) in a variety of platforms including print, eBooks and enhanced eBooks. The imprint has several projects in the works and has titles slated for release in 2012. What Scholastic authors would you like to see enhanced eBooks from?

Here’s more from the release: “In addition to intellectual property from titles in the Ruckus library and new projects developed for both digital and print, Ruckus Media is aggressively acquiring rights to out-of-print backlist titles to publish in print or in e-book formats to be distributed by Scholastic under the Ruckus imprint.” What do you think?

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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5. Ypulse Essentials: Jennifer Lawrence As Katniss, Netflix Rules The Internet, Japanese Youth Culture

Check out the first photo of Jennifer Lawrence (in her role as Katniss in “Hunger Games,” bow and arrows and all. This may not be enough to silence her critics, but we hope the movie will be) (MTV) - Netflix accounts for nearly (30% of... Read the rest of this post

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6. Hungry?

Then get on over here for information about Simmons College's Center for the Study of Children's Literature's 2007 Summer Institute, Food, Glorious Food, held July 26-29. I've participated in several of these events and they are always enlightening, spirited, and impeccably managed. PLUS: Susan Bloom, Professor Emerita of the Center and I believe still mistress of the Institute, is one fabulous hostess and chef, and you know, given the theme, that she will be forced to outdo herself. So come for Alice Hoffman and stay for the cupcakes.

For those with more than a weekend's time on their hands, Deborah Stevenson, editor of the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, will be leading the summer graduate-credit course that leads up to the Institute. Deborah is the smartest person I have ever known, and the fact that she will always be two steps ahead of your question before you've even asked it should not deter you from taking this class. She's as funny as she is formidable, too.

One more point re food, children's literature, and Deborah. When we worked together at BCCB, Deborah figured out exactly what kind of book I liked to read while eating my lunch. I would hear her call "lunch book!" while waving a galley at me from across the office. I was thinking about this last week while watching a Law & Order re-run and eating pretzels. It was a good episode, and one I hadn't seen before (murder among Iraqi emigre caviar dealers), but as soon as I ran out of pretzels, I ran out of interest, too. It's the same with lunch books: they are books I can read only when I'm eating. As soon as I'm done eating, whammo, I'm done reading. It happened recently with a new Alias-knockoff teen paperback original. I guess it has to do with how much attention a book requires, and it explains why people who watch TV get fat--there's nothing on that would get between me and my food.

1 Comments on Hungry?, last added: 3/27/2007
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7. We Were There


Does anyone remember the We Were There books? There were two I read over and over: We Were There at Pearl Harbor and We Were There at Guadalcanal. I would have been reading them around 1964, roughly twenty-five years after the events in the books took place, which seemed to me like forever ago.

I'm thinking of them because tomorrow I'm talking to Norma Jean Sawicki's publishing class at Simmons; my topic, the last twenty-five years of children's book publishing. I was there. How weird. Now I know why Betsy Hearne was once initially resistant to giving the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction to a book set during WWII. She was there, so it didn't feel like history to her.

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8. Frontlist becoming backlist

Hearing Norma Jean Sawicki talk (see Tuesday's entry) about the massive debt behind the publishing industry's mergers and acquisitions made me feel much better about my Visa bill. It also made me think about how much more company is on top of what I personally see at most houses--I might know the editor in chief, the children's publisher, occasionally that publisher's boss, but most often a company goes up up and away into corporate dimensions we just don't see on the ground. Norma Jean and I had a good time talking about what that can mean for which books get published how.

The question that only came to me today is about how much frontlist becomes backlist, and how long it stays there. For example, what percentage of, say, juvenile hardcover fiction published five years ago is still in print? Ten years ago? What percentage of first-novelists get a second crack, and has this figure changed? When I look at the piles of new novels rolling in, I wonder how long an attention span any one of them can command. I worry about those forlorn first-in-a-projected-but-abandoned-trilogy books, their characters left at the breath of the Fire Dragon or in the mouth of the Imponderable Cave. How many books disappear, and how quickly? This is not to say that many of them shouldn't, and not soon enough, but have our expectations of a "normal" literary lifespan changed?

9 Comments on Frontlist becoming backlist, last added: 3/12/2008
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9. Kaimira animation test: sneak peek


I’ve mentioned the work I’ve been doing with BBC Worldwide to develop the Kaimira story for other platforms (such as TV, film, and gaming). I finally got permission to show a sneak peek at a direction we’re exploring for animation. When these are final, they’ll be part of a short animation test.

The disclaimers are: we’re still in exploratory phase, so any of this could change at any time. So this is just a peek at the process, not the final thing. Also, please don’t use the images without permission.

3 Comments on Kaimira animation test: sneak peek, last added: 9/18/2008
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10. Gen Y Highlights From SXSW Interactive

Today's Ypulse Youth Advisory Board post comes from Libby who reports back from SXSW Interactive on some of the youthier insights gleaned, trends spotted and more! Remember  you can communicate directly with any member of the Ypulse Youth Advisory... Read the rest of this post

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