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Pitching, analyzing, and marketing your webcomic (a #WebcomicChat compilation)

Pitching, analyzing, and marketing your webcomic (a #WebcomicChat compilation) published on No Comments on Pitching, analyzing, and marketing your webcomic (a #WebcomicChat compilation)

Because Twitter is hard to backread, much less search, I’m doing more WebcomicChat answer roundups. Multiple topics per batch, this time, since I’ve fallen way too far behind.

(Also, they’re consolidated! Which is why you won’t always see all 5 prompts.)

April 29: Elevator Pitches

A headache. (See this Webcomic Woes.)

…which is why I keep using different context-specific promo descriptions at the start of every new chat, instead of having a stock one that works everywhere.

But I'm A Cat Person ad

But I’m A Cat Person does pretty well with “it’s about broke queer millennials with battle monsters,” but Leif & Thorn resists summaries. A one-liner that focuses on the romance makes it sound unfunny, and a one-liner about the comedy makes it sound non-dramatic, and “it has some comedy, some drama, and some romance!” just sounds uninterestingly vague.

Leif & Thorn ad

It used to be easy to do a quick head-to-head comparison of different slogans (or anything else) on Project Wonderful. RIP ;_;

Haven’t yet made enough via my Google AdSense experiments to start doing the same there.

June 3: Analytics & Demographics

My only target audience is “people who like the same stuff I do.” Which is part of why these comics are hard to market, since that’s not exactly a recognized and analyzed demographic…

The age range (for both BICP and Leif & Thorn) is at least 16+, since they have content not suitable for little eyes. That’s about as targeted as I get.

(Fanservice! …and if you’re not a fan of it, you’re probably off reading something else.)

Just the built-in stats in CPanel. Used to lean on the Project Wonderful ad stats for a quick look, but, well. Haven’t made the effort to install anything more complicated.

Twitter also has stats! Mostly what they tell me is “nobody clicked the links in your tweets.” Experimenting with hashtags has…not helped much. Tagging general webcomic accounts that do retweets can make a difference… sometimes… sparingly.

A lot of what analytics tells me is… unsurprising. The most popular pages are the front page, followed by the 3 or 4 strips directly preceding? Never woulda guessed.

(Data from mid-July 2018. Also near the top: the script that runs whenever you load a WordPress page, and the scripts that run whenever you load a wiki page.)

When I wasn’t sure how many people were even reading these blog posts, I didn’t use any high-tech data analysis, just posted this low-stakes low-effort poll. It drew some of those readers out of the woodwork to comment.

If we’re talking about reader demographics, those should really only matter to advertisers. The important thing for the creator is that they’re in the demographic of People Who Like This Work.

Say your kid-friendly comic is getting a lot of adult readers. Sure, they’re probably enjoying Adult Content from other sources — but they’re visiting your site because your content appeals to them as-is. Don’t mess with that.

June 23: Pitching Comic Projects

Including answers for a matching discussion from WeHeartComics!

A couple of anthology projects. So far, all polite rejections. (Not counting the ones that are unanswered as of this posting.)

Not sure if there’s anything I could’ve learned. In the one case that offered individual feedback, it turned out to be a matter of “your pitch made it to the final round, where we liked everything there but didn’t have space to print it all.”

I got a couple of pieces into the Webcomic Almanac zine (no longer on sale) — but it was to benefit Project HOPE, not the contributors, so I don’t believe they rejected anyone.

The benefit is, if you get accepted, someone else handles a bunch of administrative stuff – running Kickstarters, promoting the work, maybe selling at cons – that you don’t necessarily want to do.

Also: payment! The exposure part is nice, but if I want exposure for no money, I’ll get that by posting stuff on my own site/DA/Tumblr.

(Fundraising for a worthy nonprofit, see above, also counts.)

Some people talked about the value of community with your peers at this point, but that’s something you should be able to find in lots of other places. Right now I’m enjoying threads on the SpiderForest forum. Some users have pitched things to the collective (with or without getting accepted), but it’s not at all a prerequisite.

All the time you spend writing pitches that get rejected is time you could be spending on other things. Like making comics and sharing them on your own terms.

The requirements can bend you out of your artistic comfort zone, which could be a benefit or a drawback. For instance, my standard MO involves color, but the last submission I finished required grayscale…so I figured out how to make it look good in grayscale.

It’s definitely a drawback if you contort yourself too far. It would be stressful and draining trying to come up with ideas for an anthology where the basic theme bores you, and editors will notice that you don’t care about the idea for its own sake.

Finally, if you get a conditional acceptance, where the editors want to change your project before they’ll print it…that could also go either way, depending on what kind of editing they want. And on how much you’ve already drawn.

Have a timeframe for when you’re going to make the final selection, and send out emails during that timeframe. To everyone!

Individual feedback would also be nice, but even if you can’t give more than a polite form letter, don’t leave the rejected people hanging.

Honestly, I’m still struggling with this one. Short stories are intrinsically hard. If I care about the content enough to draw it, I inevitably come up with more material than a short-form would cover.

You would think, given how I do lots of standalone Sunday strips for Leif & Thorn, that a fun and engaging one-off would be more doable! But it’s hard to keep that energy going for 4, 6, 10 pages, without needing more worldbuilding and/or character development than you have time for.

…granted, this is a problem with lots of other writers’ short-form works, too. They leave me cold because they feel underdeveloped.

It would be great if more people got around that by writing multiple self-contained stories about the same world and characters. And I literally just brought an anthology of those for Narbonic, so my money’s where my mouth is.

Resources for Making Webcomics

Resources for Making Webcomics published on 2 Comments on Resources for Making Webcomics

A post that I plan to keep adding to, as cool new things keep crossing my path.

Artistic resources!

29 Panels that Always Work – the Wally Wood classic, expanded

Artist-Advice, Art-Tutorials, and Help-Me-Draw on Tumblr

Blambot – free quality fonts

Color harmony posts: by gigi d., by Justin Oakford

Fantasy map generators: Polygon map generator, Mapgen4, Azgaar’s map generator

Howard Schatz’s photos on the diversity of athletic body types (that link has the women; there’s a matching lineup for men)

MightyDeals – heavily-discounted graphic-design bundles with fonts, tiled patterns, and other resources (don’t be too pressured by the countdown clocks, they tend to rerun the same “limited-time deal” a few weeks in a row)

SenshiStock, Tigers-stock, and my stock & patterns on DA

RoomSketcher – for creating handy modelinteriors

Worldbuilding Stack Exchange – Q&A for writers/artists needing references for science, geography and culture

…and Bing Images for all-purpose reference-image searching. (I know, I know, but Google keeps making itself deliberately harder to use.)

RoomSketcher model vs. final panels: Rowan’s bedroom, Thorn’s living room.

Productivity resources!

5 Simple Website Blockers – Apps you can use to limit your access to distracting parts of the Internet

Website accessibility resources!

Smashing Magazine – fonts, layouts, coding, and general design advice

W3C Markup Validation Service – checks your code

Browsershots – how does your site look when loaded in a hundred different browsers?

WAVE – evaluates different measures of site accessibility

Worth checking: whether your site is still legible to colorblind users.

Webcomic podcasts!

ComicLab, with Dave Kellett, Brad Guigar, and Scott Kurtz. They’re old friends, which means sometimes they’ll wander off into a ten-minute digression about shopping habits or renovating their houses, but they’re also old pros, which means they have a lot of useful thoughts about comicking. Tends to focus more on the business side than the artistic.

ComixLaunch, with Tyler James and a variety of guests. Specifically about Kickstarter, more generally about the business of comics. Goes pretty heavy on ads, but offset by having lots of good advice and listener freebies/discounts.

Dirty Old Ladies, with Spike from Iron Circus Comics, Kel McDonald, and Amanda Lafrenais. Also friends, all with different levels of experience, covering both business (Spike is on the Actual Publisher level) and creativity (their digressions come in the form of ten-minute summaries for projects they want to work on).

Two of them have erotic comics in their repertoire, thus the title. It’s kind of misleading because they aren’t the only focus — they just come up when it’s relevant.

The SpiderForest Podcast, with various members of the SF collective, plus guests. Each episode includes an interview and a moderated roundtable discussion, so it’s less banter-y, but organized well enough to move along nicely.

(I have more discussion about individual SF podcast episodes over on their forum.)

What not to do!

How Not To Run A Webcomic, a collaborative project that ended in 2006 but is full of solid still-relevant advice.

(…give it enough time and I might add some personal complaints to this one.)

Erin Reviews: The Gateway

Erin Reviews: The Gateway published on No Comments on Erin Reviews: The Gateway

Just finished listening to The Gateway: a 6-part podcast series about “Teal Swan, a new brand of spiritual guru, who draws in followers with her hypnotic self-help YouTube videos aimed at people who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.”

(So if you don’t want to read a long post about those things, you should bail out here.)

I’d never heard of Teal before this, and I still don’t know anything about her beyond what’s in this report. But I do know a few things about psychiatry that aren’t in the series.

And based on that…I have complaints.

Continue reading Erin Reviews: The Gateway

Hey, who wants to see another Lesbian Pride Flag design proposal?

Hey, who wants to see another Lesbian Pride Flag design proposal? published on 8 Comments on Hey, who wants to see another Lesbian Pride Flag design proposal?

It turned out I had a lot of feelings about what this should look like. So you’re getting a design. With history! And symbolism!

First, there are two existing lesbian flags that I wanted to pay homage to:

The labrys lesbian flag, designed by Sean Campbell in 2000:

Looking at all the flags that have taken off in the decades since then, it’s clear that stripes are the way to go. Still, the symbolism in this one is excellent, and sets a high bar.

And the lipstick lesbian flag, designed by Natalie McCray in 2010:

You’ve probably seen a version without the lips used as “the lesbian flag”. And let’s be clear, it has a great aesthetic. It just doesn’t translate so well to everyone in the community who isn’t hella femme.

So here’s my Lesbian Pride Flag proposal:

If you want a specific name to distinguish it from its predecessors…call it the lesbian community flag.

And here’s what it means!

Pink stripes:

  • Shoutout to the gradient design of the lipstick lesbian flag; represents femme lesbians
  • There’s two of them to represent pride in f/f couples
  • And to represent the harmony between “liking women” and “being a woman”
  • And, because the lighter shade echoes the pink from the trans pride flag, to represent that this includes both cis lesbians & trans lesbians

Pale yellow stripe:

  • Echoes the nonbinary and intersex flags, to represent that this includes nonbinary & intersex lesbians
  • Echoes the middle stripe in the pan flag, to represent our attraction to nonbinary lesbians
  • It’s a sandy, beachy shade of yellow, because Lesbos is an island

Lavender stripe:

  • Shoutout to the color of the lesbian labrys flag
  • Honoring the reclamation of the “lavender menace” symbolism
  • Represents the importance of lesbians being feminists, and lesbian issues being part of feminism

Blue-black stripe:

  • This one’s for the butch lesbians
  • It’s at the base of the flag because it’s buff enough to hold all the other stripes up
  • I experimented with plain #000 as another shoutout to the labrys flag, but a brighter stripe worked better with all the other colors, which represents how when all different kinds of lesbians band together we look awesome

Also available: labrys/triangle variations! You can click all these flags for stupidly-high-res versions. (Thanks to Pride-Flags for the high-quality labrys.)

So there you have it, the lesbian pride flag, circa 2018. Just in time to celebrate the third anniversary of the US legalization of same-sex marriage. Maybe too late for any of this year’s Pride parades…but there’s always next year.

If you like it, feel free to use it — put it in graphics, print it on a shirt, knit it into hats, whatever — without restriction.

#LGBTWIP 2018 recap/roundup post. With pictures!

#LGBTWIP 2018 recap/roundup post. With pictures! published on 3 Comments on #LGBTWIP 2018 recap/roundup post. With pictures!

In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, or even if you do: here’s the complete-and-expanded version of everything I wrote about Leif & Thorn for the #LGBTWIP question meme this month!

May 1: Introduce yourself!

I’m Erin Ptah, overworked & underpaid lesbian. I have well-managed depression, several webcomics, and a weakness for time-travel stories & vampires. (Separately or together, either’s good.)

May 2: Pitch your WIP

Leif & Thorn is a cross-cultural fantasy m/m romance w/a big ensemble cast. Really big. Current arc-in-progress sidelines most of the regulars, to focus on Hamilton with magic reincarnated lesbians.

Continue reading #LGBTWIP 2018 recap/roundup post. With pictures!

Leif/Thorn Soundtrack – Shelter From The Storm

Leif/Thorn Soundtrack – Shelter From The Storm published on No Comments on Leif/Thorn Soundtrack – Shelter From The Storm

We build castles with our hands / On a solid ground they stand / They’re our shelter from the storm / Keep us safe and keep us warm

An all-Eurovision Leif/Thorn mix.

(It had to be done. Multilingual songs are thematically on-point for obvious reasons, and “sparkly, magical, gay” is this world’s whole aesthetic.)

Featuring lots of language switches, steady heartbeats, and stormy seas giving way to bright skies.

Continue reading Leif/Thorn Soundtrack – Shelter From The Storm

Should My Webcomic Ads Explicitly Say “BL”/”LGBT”?: a case study

Should My Webcomic Ads Explicitly Say “BL”/”LGBT”?: a case study published on 10 Comments on Should My Webcomic Ads Explicitly Say “BL”/”LGBT”?: a case study

A month ago I set up a head-to-head comparison on some ad banners for Leif & Thorn, and figured other queer-webcomic creators might be interested in the results.

The question is, does it actually entice more people to click on your m/m comic ad if it says “BL” in the corner? Or could that label be a turnoff, since some people have bad associations? What about a more neutral label like “LGBT+”, does that help or hurt?

(…in case anyone doesn’t know, Boys Love is the term used in Japan for m/m comics, so it’s geared to appeal to the manga crowd. You mostly see it on ads for webtoons.)

So I threw together a Project Wonderful campaign and let it run. I’ll explain all the terms for readers who aren’t in the ad game. Or you can skip straight to the end for the final data.

Continue reading Should My Webcomic Ads Explicitly Say “BL”/”LGBT”?: a case study

New interview published on Art of Webcomics!

New interview published on Art of Webcomics! published on No Comments on New interview published on Art of Webcomics!

Go give it a read. I talk about the process of making the strip, advice for artists, and what I would do if I won the lottery.

By the way, if you’re looking for free ways to support Leif & Thorn: send a message to your favorite webcomic site or review blog, telling them to check it out and make a post about it! compiled this list of review sites a few years back; many of them are still active, and more have sprung up since. (Some of them take guest posts, too. Just in case any of you want to go the extra mile and write a whole review yourself. Which would be awesome.)

One more thing: vote Leif & Thorn in this poll to help it score some free ad space!

Quickie poll: What color should I make this character’s hair?

Quickie poll: What color should I make this character’s hair? published on 24 Comments on Quickie poll: What color should I make this character’s hair?

I’ve recolored this panel a dozen times and haven’t loved any of the outcomes, and it’s driving me nuts. Readers, what do you think?

The only serious limit is that he’s of United Islander descent, so the color has to be relatively bright and saturated.

He’s the head writer for magical-procedural drama MCLIS, if that helps. (In the criminal justice system, magically based offenses are considered especially heinous.)

ETA: After a few days of voting, #5 is the runaway winner. I mean, wow, none of the others even came close. Blue-tinted hair it is. (Keep an eye out for him in a few storylines!)

How To End Your Webcomic, for #WebcomicChat

How To End Your Webcomic, for #WebcomicChat published on No Comments on How To End Your Webcomic, for #WebcomicChat

Technically I’ve ended 3 webcomics. They’re all Hellsing fancomics — And Shine Heaven Now, The Eagle of Hermes, and Sailor Hellsing — so the full archives are collected on the same site.

Continue reading How To End Your Webcomic, for #WebcomicChat

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