The webcomics blog about webcomics

I Am Intensely Of Two Minds About This

Got a press release in the mail and while it did a lot very well, it did something that I think is … overblown. Ultimately, I think it’s a misunderstanding of what one element in here means/implies, and that this could have been better if we’d left it out. Let’s break it down:

[Identifying information redacted]

A webcomic about [description]

TAIWAN – Monday, 1st of March, 2021

Under embargo until Thursday, 1st of April, 2021

Taiwan-based first time comic creator [name] is excited to announce that our manga style fantasy comic, [title], will be available in English, Spanish, and Traditional Chinese on Patreon starting 1st of April, 2021, and available at [URL] for free starting 8th of April, 2021!

[Title] will be available on Patreon for early page releases, with the top Patreon tier also getting exclusive behind the scenes and in progress works. All patrons will additionally receive discord access to chat with the creators. But the comic will not be hidden behind a paywall — [title] will be released weekly for free on the main site.

Follow the titular character, [name and details], as she tries to manage the power of an ancestral spirit she wasn’t prepared to receive. As she ventures from the broken tatters of her own small tribe into the larger world on a quest for revenge, she learns how much bigger the world is than herself, and how deeply entrenched her enemy really is.

Key Points

  • A story of magic, monsters, gods, and a girl gifted with the strength of many.
  • Watch [name]’s powers grow as she learns to control the link with her guardian spirit.
  • Experience a harsh world of scarcity and loss.
  • The friends and enemies she makes along the way shape her as she grows — for better or worse.
  • A long but finite story with weekly updates.
  • Patreon is available, but not a requirement to enjoy the comic.
  • Writing by [author, who also sent the release].
  • Illustration by [artist].
  • Chinese and Spanish translations by [translator].

We hope you’ll join us, and [name], on this journey!

Press Assets
Please see this google drive folder for press assets: [URL]

About [creator]
[Name] is a first time creator trying to break into the wonderful world of comics. To learn more about [creator], please visit [URL].

Okay, here’s what’s good:
There’s a lot of information here, with a couple of grafs of useful information, and that bullet list of key points, which somebody who is busy can use to construct a puff piece that looks like they wrote it, but really was constructed out of the creator’s preferred talking points. For somebody that’s super busy, that’s useful.

Also useful is that link to visual assets, which would save somebody looking to embed some images in a story the time of locating, copying, and formatting them; again, for the busy toiler in the content mines, very helpful¹.

But if you’re that busy in the content mines, and looking to save that much time as you crank out a tidy 600 words to try to make your $50 for the day, you have to ask if this is where you want to spend your 15 minutes of effort:

[Name] is a first time creator trying to break into the wonderful world of comics.

First-timers don’t have to do all this — you provided a couple of preview images, a couple of pages (which are mostly single panels), and not enough reason to tell me why you, [Name], are worth an embargo. Major publishers sometimes ask that reviews be held until 2-6 weeks before release of a book from an established creator, but I’ve never received an embargo request from them. You also don’t embargo a story until day of release unless you’re a major, established, recognized name.

Keanu Reeves co-writing his first comic? Yeah, that could benefit from everybody racing to get their stories out on the morning of the same day. Somebody that can’t point me to their prior work, or even a quick peek at the first couple of installments? They can’t benefit from a day-of embargo (and those that can aren’t sending out notices a month in advance because that’s how embargoes get broken²).

As a new creator, you want to start drumming up interest in advance of launch to give people a reason to follow you, because honestly? That reason isn’t in the press release. I think that at least half the stories I’ve read in the past decades could be described by the bulleted talking points without filing off the serial numbers, and while the preview images were nicely done, they don’t show how they work as comics. They were closer to pin-ups.

I don’t want to give the impression that I’m shitting on [Name], but the dateline, the embargo, all the rest? It’s like getting a rando online sliding into your DMs to say they’ve got the greatest! idea! ever!! but you’ll need to sign an NDA before they’ll talk to you.

The directives to only use this particular version of your logo on light backgrounds, and that version on dark backgrounds, with size and proportion requirements? Ain’t happening. The store that’s already built with merch before launch (including merch not with the comic on it, but your studio logo)? Likewise. You’re starting at Square One; the next step is Square Two, but you’re trying to jump to about Square Seventeen. It’s not going to be taken seriously.

The hustle and confidence are admirable, but you’re going to have to earn the clout you’re faking-until-making (which is not a bad thing; dress for the job you want, not the one you have and all that) by showing your work. You saw how the very biggest, coordinated PR campaigns are formatted, but you aren’t in that league yet. You may or may not ever be there. But take a look at the most beloved webcomics by new creators that you follow and look to see how many launched this way. I’ll make the Toby Ziegler bet that the number is zero.

So what would I recommend for [Name]? Sure, a major comics or pop culture site won’t pay attention to your release unless it’s in this format (but then, they aren’t going to pay attention to an unknown anyway), but niche blogs like this one? Send folks like us a quick email that introduces yourself, not in the third person, tell me that you’ve got a project you’re readying for launch, tell me where I can direct readers to see more of your work before the launch date, and thank me for the consideration. I may or may not run it, depending on a zillion factors on the day.

Worry about t-shirts with your studio logo on them when people beg for them, not a month before launch. Oh, and for a title? Maybe choose something that doesn’t have 65 entries on the Wikipedia disambiguation page, including 13 from arts & entertainment, and 4 from some of the largest properties in modern pop culture. All the work you’re doing to get noticed will be lost in that background radiation.

But the number one factor to get me to write about something day of launch or even before? Show much something of you in the work³, and prior work, that gives me confidence that it wasn’t 98% of your effort spent on the launch and the remainder on everything else. This isn’t about who’s first off the line with the biggest, most dramatic start; it’s about who’s still showing improving work after 50, 100, 150 updates, with a voice and POV that is unique and authentic.

Spam of the day:

MR HO CHOI wrote: I visited your website and saw your products. I have to say that I am very impressed with the quality of your products. Therefore, we would like your company to ship large quantities of your product to our country for commercial use.

I would be happy to ship MR HO CHOI samples of the pixelform opinions that I monger so freely. You can have all 1440 words here as a starter.

¹ And I hate to bring this up, but those super-useful assets? You didn’t enable downloading in Google Drive, so I have to take a screenshot to use them and the usefulness just dropped to zero. Might want to fix that.

² And you should know that honoring an embargo is entirely a function of how much an outlet is afraid of being cut off from you in the future. Unknowns don’t get to make those demands.

³ That’s the other thing with this form of press release: it’s about product, with all that implies. Product is designed according to an algorithm with precision to appeal to certain people. It’s soulless.

Also, isn’t an embargo, like, a deal two people make? I’ll give you an advance copy IF you promise to embargo? The writer gets something early in exchange for this promise. You can’t just say “Please write about my comic but NOT YET.”

The deal can be … and if you break embargo, you’re CUT OFF IN FUTURE, BUDDY but you have to have enough clout to make that unspoken quid pro quo actually sting.

An embargo can be unilaterally imposed. Governments can embargo exports to a given country or imports from it – just ask Cuba.

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