Learn a Lot More About Target Audiences and Marketing Your Comic

My review submission guidelines (which, yes, are still valid, even though they’re four years old) ask comic creators and/or publishers to tell me briefly about their target audience, among other things.

Target Audience

It’s sort of a trick question. I get people emailing me whose book is clearly aimed at young adult males (like themselves), for example. You’d think that they might realize that a middle-aged woman like myself may not be the best reviewer for their book, but they get starry-eyed imagining the press coverage instead of thinking through the marketing. The right person talking about your book is more valuable than more wrong people talking about your comic, I think.

Which is my point of asking the question. What I said above aside, I’ll read almost any comic, if I have the time (which is the limiting factor these days). I just want to know that I’m dealing with someone who’s thought about selling their comic successfully. I want to deal with professionals, not hobbyists, and not opportunists. Who wants to sample a promising new title only to never see a second issue because the artist put all their effort into creating the first issue instead of realizing that this is a business and you have to think about surviving the long haul?

Honestly, these days, if you want to tell continuing stories, put it on the web. No one’s going to be able to find issue #4 of your self-published serial once Diamond drops it or you get overwhelmed by the bills from #1-3. If you love print, tell a story that works for that format *as it is today*. That means something that’s satisfying in one package, in a format that you can easily ship and sell online.

But I’m digressing. I started rambling on this topic because I read another great piece by First Second’s Gina Gagliano. (I hope the publisher considers collecting all her advice to creators in one volume — it would make a terrific how-to book.) The latest explains target audiences, how they’re determined, and why they’re important. An excerpt of her advice:

If you’re in the middle of writing something and you’re not sure whether it’s a serious non-fiction project aimed at adults or at three year-olds, probably something pretty strange is going on with your brain. … As people immersed in the publishing industry 24/7 who have target audiences categorization modules at the front of our brains all the time, we at First Second definitely recommend that if you’re sitting at a table with your pen and a blank sheet of paper going, ‘I’m going to write a great teen novel!’ that the first thing you do is put down your pen and go read some teen novels and then interact with some teenagers.

Similar Posts: Before Watchmen: Nite Owl Gives Some Odd Advice § Thom Zahler With Some Basic Comic Advice § Superhero Comic Sexism – A Futile Fight? § Free Comic Book Day Links & Limits § Audience, Fans, and Marketing to Women


3 Responses to “Learn a Lot More About Target Audiences and Marketing Your Comic”

  1. David Oakes Says:

    So what’s *your* Target Audience?

  2. Johanna Says:

    Fair question. I aim to write for people like me — comic readers who are bored with the obvious and ordinary choices, who are looking for good comics regardless of genre or publisher or format, who appreciate the medium more than one particular genre. And those outside the expected young adult white male demographic, too.

  3. Tara Tallan Says:

    Thanks for pointing out this article– her advice is very helpful. I’ve had a hard time trying to come to grips with my own so-called target audience. I’ve always considered my audience to be people like me– adult women– but people have been telling me for years that they think my comic is for kids. And indeed if cons are anything to go by I do seem to sell a reasonable proportion of books to young teens or to parents looking to buy for their kids. It really leaves me scratching my head, wondering how to market it.
    At least I now know, after reading Gina’s remarks, that if I ever do approach a publisher, not being sure about this target market thing isn’t going to ruin everything. :-)

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