PR: What Not to Do: Asking Reviewers to Jump Through Hoops

Got an email the other day looking for a review for a self-published graphic novel, which I won’t name because that isn’t the point, but it came from outside the traditional comic industry. The email didn’t bother to answer the questions I request from review submissions, instead sending me to their website. That’s ok, I don’t want to be dogmatic about following my guidelines, so I clicked over only to find all glossy taglines and video teaser, no actual information.

The email mentioned that their hardcover would be out in two weeks and hoped I could “take a look” with a “free viewing license”. I responded with my mailing address. They didn’t take the hint, sending back instructions on downloading some proprietary DRM viewer with an attached license. The note said that if I liked it, then they would send me the print version.

At that point, I bowed out. I am not going to install some random software I’ve never heard of in order to look at your comic to give you free promotion. Who knows what kind of hooks it would put in my OS or how hard it would be to get rid of it afterwards? I was getting a skeevy feeling from the beginning, anyway, since the graphic novel supposedly dealt with a situation that the submitter sold snake-oil-style products to handle. I suspect the whole thing was some kind of “creative” guerrilla advertising method.

Here’s the lesson: If you want coverage for your project, you need to make it easy for the press, not more difficult. I don’t want special software or little-known formats. I prefer print, although I’ll take online, but if you don’t trust me not to distribute or copy your PDF, don’t send it to me. I can’t do an accurate review anyway if my experience differs that much from that of the average reader’s.

If I don’t already know you or your work, you have an uphill battle. Like someone advertising a job opening these days, I get more submissions than I can manage, and if your project doesn’t strike me, I am looking for ways to rule you out quickly, to avoid wasting the time of both of us.

If you put out a comic, you have a ton of competition. You are battling against brand name superheroes and addictive manga and critically praised graphic novels and free webcomics for your customer’s and my time and attention. The state of the world is that I have more great comic work to cover than I can handle. Current count: 50 books on review stack, 20 more coming in. These are outstanding, diverse works by known, reputable, quality artists and writers. This is a wonderful problem to have, because I look forward to reading all of them, and I’m thrilled by what awaits me.


7 Responses to “PR: What Not to Do: Asking Reviewers to Jump Through Hoops”

  1. Meg W Says:

    good for you!

  2. Thom Says:

    So…uh…my plan to require a reviewer to drive to a small town in Louisana, slide a card under the door of the bathroom of the local gas station, then wait at the local diner for a special pie that has a code for you to take to another small town (in Wisconson) and deliver to a guy waiting at the coat check of a specific hotela who will give you a key to a PO Box where you will find the password to download a PDF to print out and mail back to me for the review copy to be mailed to you would be a bad idea???? ;)

  3. Johanna Says:

    Ha! I can see someone creating a plan like that as part of some kind of promotional stunt, actually.

    I hope the point that came through is that it’s a really tough time to get noticed, because we are living in a new Golden Age of comics. There’s never been more good works available, both new and historical.

  4. James Schee Says:

    If I promise to not set the hoop on fire, can I get reviewers to jump through once?:) Thom’s idea would be a cool thing to do at a con, though more for a private party then a book probably.:)

    Weird thing about owning a Mac is how much stuff online doesn’t work for it, as I’ve seen various companies (and even government agencies) requiring Active X controllers and the like.

  5. William George Says:

    Johanna, I have a comic I’d like you to review as well.

    But first I’d like you to write and draw it for me because doing it myself is difficult and time consuming?

    Okay? Thanks!

  6. Russell Lissau Says:

    How about getting press releases that don’t have the 5W’s and the H? If you want me to promote your book/movie/event/etc., at least tell me who’s involved, what it is, when it is, where it is, why people should care and how to learn more.

    For most of the journalists I know, releases that don’t have the 5 W’s go right into the trash.

  7. PR: What Not to Do: Badger Reviewers Into Ignoring You » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] talked before about how dumb it is to require reviewers to jump through hoops before you let them see your comic. I understand that some small companies may be paranoid about [...]

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