- Posted by Johanna on November 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm
- Category: Meta
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.
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.