By: Peggy Wood | @pswediting
About the Event:
Panel Description: Brian Pulido (creator/writer, Lady Death; publisher, Coffin Comics) has been a thriving, independent comic book creator for thirty years, and is known for his rabid “Fiend” base. Utilizing his “Philosophy First” approach, Pulido details his eight crucial rules so you get the inside scoop on how to develop a loyal fan base from scratch and develop a long career as a comic book creator.
This panel was hosted by Brian Pulido who hosted another panel last year, “How to Thrive as an Indy Comics Creator Now!” Once again, Pulido provides a list of rules that he believes helps people to build a loyal fan base.
Rule 1: Make memorable stuff that people want. Some creators hold on too long to an idea that they think should sell rather than seek out a new idea that will sell. If a new project isn’t selling after months or a few years of effort, it’s time to think about moving on to a new project. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep working on your passion project, just that it can’t be your main focus right now if the goal is money/success. Making small course corrections towards different ideas in the same project theme, or different projects as a whole is a lot easier than hanging on to the point of going broke. You need to find what works for your audience and develop that niche. “Sometimes you have young creators who have the energy, the excitement, and the drive but sometimes they hold on to that one idea just a little too long and if you do not get the market to respond to it–I say course correct and move on,” Pulido say, “Something for your consideration is that idea that you have, the one great idea, please give that up as soon as you can. You are in the business of ideas, so keep coming up with new stuff all the time, surprise yourself, make that just part of your talent because it’s never the one thing.”
Rule 2: Create a memorable brand. How do you put yourself together and present yourself? Branding should be an instantaneous identification. Something that, when people see it–they think of you. Maybe it’s the color pink (Elle Woods), or a rabbit with a bow-tie (playboy), maybe its a red and white ball with a black line through it (pokemon), etc. Develop your brand and make it memorable.
Rule 3: Build word of mouth! GET OUT THERE! There are several ways to spread the word–for example, you can get copies of your comic (maybe put on amazon and buy some prints with an advert to the amazon sale), set up a booth at local conventions and sell your work by hand there. Maybe stand at a busy street corner and pass out some advertisements. Whatever you do, it’s important that you treat the experience with the same energy and enthusiasm about the work that you want your audience to feel about you and your creation. Enthusiasm draws people in! Social media is another great resource. Pick a few platforms that speak to you–a main one and one more. Focus on those and put out messages on those everyday. Talk about your process, show it, and share it. Show scripting, show coloring, driving to pick it up from the printers, etc. Show them the work and let them in–people love it! Show it as an aspirational journey and adventure, not a stressful/horrible chore. Never stop. Share as many inspirational moments and messages as you can. Finally, try not to take it personally if you get rejected. It happens to everyone and there are always more opportunities out there.
Rule 4: Be your own public relations firm. That means you do everything from formal press releases, announcing what you are releasing into a given market (could be a convention, could be an online store, etc.), to query letters and beyond. This is a press release generation through Twitter, Instagram, and Blogging–so use it to your advantage!
Rule 5: Your email list rules. Your obsession in life should be to sign people up to your email list. Mailchimp, for example. People that sign up for your mailing list have taken one step closer to seeing your project become a success. Try to get one email out to the list with new stuff every week. Keep the news fresh, interesting, insightful–maybe have some sneak peeks, maybe tell them what’s going on with yourself or your publication–and show some genuine excitement for the work (or, don’t if that’s your brand). In the case of Pulido’s company, the email list is KING. It’s the most helpful for repeat business so they NEVER take off from the email list (even on holidays).
Rule 6: Be authentic. Be trustworthy. Be disciplined. If you want to tell stories, you need to be authentic to yourself as a writer. Following trends isn’t going to build you a loyal fanbase. It’s going to build you a house of cards that fall as soon as the next trend is up. But if you write stories that you want to tell, you’re sure to find others interested in the same. Additionally, telling the stories that you want to tell is going to keep your passion alive and that passion is going to keep you going when all else fails. If do what you say you will do, then you will gain momentum over time.
Rule 7: Work Hard, Stay Humble. With comics, if you put in the time and effort you will get better and you will gain that following. However, you need to remember Rule 1 and you need to stay humble as you do so. It doesn’t help to be jealous of another’s success, and it doesn’t help to be snobbish. Success doesn’t make anybody better than anyone else.
Rule 7.5: LOVE THE WORK It’s the profession you choose, so keep your passion and face what comes with it! If you can’t love the work, it’s time to find something else.
Rule 8: Repeat Rules 1-7. Like everything, it takes work. It takes time. And it takes passion.