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

Snake oil wagon

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.

Snake oil wagon

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 customer 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.

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