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How to keep IDW Publishing from losing their shirt on the Forgotten Realms, Part 1: Building a Foundation for a Successful Comic Book Product Launch

IDW Publishing is currently publishing a lot of licensed properties I really enjoy. Things like GI Joe, Dungeons & Dragons, the work of George RR Martin, stuff with giant robots…wait a minute. It sounds like I’m describing Devil’s Due Publishing here.

Devils Due Publishing made a mess of its licensed property comics, much like IDW is doing now.

Sadly, much like DDP, I really don’t think IDW knows how to handle the promotion and marketing of licensed properties and, in the long run, I truly think it could hurt their business. At some point, the cost of failed licensing efforts could force them down the road that DDP has “blazed.”

Because of my love of the work IDW puts out (including some of the most amazing “Art of” books around!), and in spite of the fact that they completely ignored my last round of fixes for their site, I’ve decided to put together this series of articles focusing on doing a proper Internet product launch for their upcoming Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms series. Written by fantasy legend, RA Salvatore, and his son, Geno, the new Forgotten Realms series from IDW has a tremendous amount of potential in terms of sales, both in the comic industry itself and outside of regular industry distribution channels.

Unfortunately, as history has shown, if left to their own devices IDW will most assuredly mess things up. Let’s see if we can help them out with their problem.

Before I start getting crazy emails about not being able to do this or that, calm down. None of what I’m going to describe here is anything crazy or, truthfully, anything beyond basic Internet marketing steps. This is what should generally be done for any product launch online and, truthful, if you’re a mid-sized company (Boom! Studios and Ape Entertainment, I’m talking to you guys) you should automatically be doing all of this stuff. You’re not. But you should be. If you’ve got someone working on your website already, then you can do all of this work in a very short time and with no additional costs to your company. All you have to do is convince your marketing people to get off their asses and do some work.

OK, that may be harder than I thought.

The 7 Pieces for a Kick-Ass Web Foundation

The Forgotten Realms is one of the main product lines for Dungeons & Dragons and is a new series from IDW Publishing.

1. Build A Solid Web Presence: The very first thing IDW needs to do is develop a spot on their web page with more information about the new series. Currently, all they have for Dungeons & Dragons is a terrible single page with a couple of paragraphs talking about the proper and a single image of the core Dungeons & Dragons comic.

  • There is no information on when the comics are coming out.
  • No information on what has already been released.
  • No information on the individual series.
  • No previews or even cover galleries.

There isn’t even a link to purchase the comics in the company store beyond a small line of text that says “subscribe to D&D comics” that links to a bulk buy of issues 1-5. Individual issues are not listed and nothing comes up in their search bar when you look for “Dungeons & Dragons.” I guess they really don’t want you to purchase their product!

For a company trying to, I assume, sell or, at the very least, inform potential customers about a product, IDW fails miserably on all counts.

For their site to be successful, and for fans to learn about the new Forgotten Realms series, the new title needs its own set of web pages on the IDW Publishing website. In reality, they should have a group of pages dedicated to each of the Dungeons & Dragons series they produce, but that’s beyond the scope of what I’m talking about here.

Each page absolutely, 100% MUST HAVE calls to action for fans to purchase the product and a link to where it can be ordered/pre-ordered, preferably online. No arguments here, IDW executives. If you argue with me, I will have you murdered. Give links not just to a mass subscription page, but to each and every issue of the series itself, even if that issue has not been released. Product pages in your store should contain a solicitation, release schedule, cover images, preview pages AND links back to the web page for the individual issue, the product/store entries for other issues and the series “hub” page itself.

(For clarity’s sake, store entries will be called “Product Pages” and pages on the website itself will be called “web pages” or just “pages.”)

All web pages MUST contain links to Twitter and Facebook accounts for either IDW Dungeons & Dragons in general or the Forgotten Realms in specific. I’d also include a direct link to and mention of the IDW D&D forum. Give visitors as many ways as possible to connect to the product on a personal level. Expecting them to find this information on their own is a bad idea.

I’ve just been talking about the web pages as a group, but what specifically should those pages be? Here is what I have in mind for the Forgotten Realms set of pages on the IDW Publishing website:

Read the rest in my new book, “Comic Book Marketing 101,” now available as an eBook for only $4.99!

Comic Book Marketing 101 by Mat Nastos

Topics include:

  • Doing marketing analysis and research to maximize your comic’s potential for success
  • Developing a marketing plan
  • How to do a proper Product Launch
  • Hands-On case studies using the work of publishers IDW Publishing, Boom Studios and Moonstone Books! Learn from their mistakes!
  • And more!

For the Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Comic-Book-Marketing-101-ebook/dp/B005PPPRIU/
In multiple formats: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91945

-Mat Nastos, Super Genius
http://www.MatNastos.net

Article Series Directory
1. How to Launch a Comic Book Series: An Introduction
2. How to keep IDW Publishing from losing their shirt on the Forgotten Realms, Part 1: Building a Foundation for a Successful Comic Book Product Launch
3. How to keep IDW from losing their shirt on the Forgotten Realms, Part 2: Connecting with your audience

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Mat Nastos
TV, Film, comic book, fantasy & steampunk writer/director, known best for bad horror movies about giant scorpions, killer pigs & dinosaurs in the sewers. You can find his work on Smashwords or at his Amazon Author Page.

4 Responses

  1. Gerimi says:

    I love the title of the article… if there ever was a rousing call to action, unto itself, this is it.

  2. daniel Burton says:

    Great work as always, Mat.

    I don’t know how a lot of these big publishers operate as far as marketing, but from everything you’ve shared it seems like they work the same way that smaller publishers do–don’t work on marketing or even have much marketing production budget.

    Sometimes it’s not sexy work. and putting things on every page is a lot of work especially, when your entire team is focused on putting out product. And big companies have a lot of products. That’s a lot of pages. In order to do everything you’ve said, they really need a full-time internet marketing production person at the very least.

    The good news is they don’t have to do all of this at once. Just start on the easiest thing, get it done, celebrate, and then do the next one. By looking at the short term investment and the long-term payday, it really is a no-brainer to put marketing into everything we do. Eventually, it is all worth it.

    Small companies that do have marketing teams, usually are preoccupied in other marketing efforts or just don’t know how to do internet marketing effectively.

    Why do you think most big companies don’t invest in internet marketing?

    • Mat Nastos says:

      Daniel:

      Thanks for the comment. I think you over-estimate the time it takes to do a lot of the work I talk about. I mean, realistically, a lot could be done in even just a few hours a week. The issue tends to be the lack of business planning at all from the smaller guys — they sort of just leap in and hope for the best for the most part. This stuff can and should be started before your first issue is even finished (and a lot should be done before you begin production of the comic itself).

      For the big guys? They’re used to doing business the way they have always done it and it can be hard to justify doing extra marketing work. It’s tough to quantify up front, especially if you’ve never done it before. Why waste time or resources on this stuff when you can just keep doing things they way you’re doing it and get results that are always about the same? It’s very lazy. Plus, for the mid-sized companies, you’ve got a lot of marketing people who were hired with no experience or real marketing/sales knowledge. They were hired because they were good at talking to fans and retailers at conventions, or can maybe handle tweeting/Facebooking online. When you start throwing out even the most basic of marketing/sales techniques, it confuses and scares them. Why would they push for doing something that could get them fired? Instead, we get the brilliance of “Mark Waid is Evil” and things that don’t really generate new sales.

      -M

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