Throwback Thursday: Originally posted June 2013
So I’m going to clip a bit from this post here:
which was written by MCA Hogarth as part of a Q&A post she did about her writing/business/personal.
Mostly, I wonder—how can I have the biggest impact in supporting you and your work? The biggest impact you can have is telling other people about the work, or buying it for/lending it to them, or telling a reviewer to review it. There’s a huge difference in impact between me trying to do those things and you all doing them; people are far more likely to be interested in, buy, recommend, or review work that a friend tells them about (or even a stranger!) than if the author does. (It’s almost as if they think they author might be biased! :) ). So overwhelmingly, tell other people about it.
This is great info and something both darcsowers and I have been beating our heads over trying to figure out how to encourage this.
The reason? Ads don’t work. Oh, they kind of work. But really, between Ad-Block plugins for your browser, and the inherit defensive blindness that people have developed for anything that resembles a 486x60 pixel space, ads end up costing more than it’s usually worth to bring people to your material. I am not sure of the numbers across the board, but at best, I’ve seen is a 2% click rate, and more often, a .2 to .5 % click rate. (At best, 1 out of every 50 people check the ad, but more likely it’s 1 out of every 200-500)
But word of mouth? That has a huge impact. It’s personal, and it comes from a trusted source, and not just from a banner that is admittedly trying to sell you something.
So the big question is. How do we promote this behavior in readers? (Bribes do not count!)
Encouraging folks to share your work with others is probably one of the hardest parts of this gig. I know a number of folks enjoy what I do. But, for some reason, they seem reluctant to share this enjoyment with others. Maybe it’s because they feel a long-form comic is harder to share compared to a gag strip. Perhaps they worry that their friends will decry them for liking a comic with talking critters in it. (I’m still never sure how rampant the supposed “furry hate” actually is.) Or, most likely, they don’t even think that I would need any help at all.
I’m noticing that, for one reason or another, people seem to think I can take care of everything. While I can handle a lot, I do need some help now and then. And getting the word out to others is a skill I’m really lacking in. Part of the reason I create the digital downloads of the issues and make them available for free is to encourage folks to share the comic with others. It seemed like a fun thing to do that folks would enjoy. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how effective it’s been for getting the word out.
For those of us working without access to a big studio advertising budget, word of mouth is our best method for sharing with others. The more encouragement and response to our work that we see, the more enthused we are to continue creating that work for you to enjoy. Everyone wins.
Matt and I watched a documentary called Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines last evening. It was a very interesting look at the need for female role models in comics and other media.
The documentary pointed out something in media that I hadn’t picked up on but now that I’ve been made aware of it, I’m realizing how prevalent it actually is… the idea of the strong woman sacrificing her power, and often herself, for the sake of the male. The man comes on the scene and the female character suddenly doesn’t need to be independent because he’ll protect her. Or, worse yet, instead of doing as the male character and learning to control her abilities, she lets her fears get the best of her, making the ultimate sacrifice to prevent her powers from harming others. Yeah, so noble.
If the male character can be shown harnessing and taming his power, why can’t the female?
That’s what Moraine’s story is about, her learning how to control this potentially devastating power. A lot of folks have been calling for Moraine to send a nuke through the gates and vaporize Fey. The thing they don’t get is that Moraine is the nuke. Yes, she can destroy Fey, but Britain would be gone as well due to the amount of power she would need to draw to wipe out all of Fey. There would be nothing left, on both sides.
We know Moraine doesn’t want to kill everyone around her. She cares for people. Yet, I don’t want her to pull the “I must hide away / end my life to save others from my power” move either. So, I need to show her mastering her strengths. But, to do that, I also need to show that her strengths are dangerous. Hence what I did in pages 9 and 10 of this issue.
As I said, I wanted to give the impression of insanity, primal power, and vulnerability. As a former literary student, I know nudity is used as a device to illustrate the concepts I was going for. So, I used a known powerful device to highlight a point, figuring my audience would be mature enough to understand the difference between nudity as a loss of sanity, control, and protection and nudity as something intended to titillate. Apparently, with some folks, I was wrong. I’ll admit, it’s more than a little upsetting to have the message I’m trying to convey subverted by folks going on about how sexy Moraine is. It’s even more so when I realize that even if she wasn’t nude, someone would still pull that crap. It’s happened in the past.
The most sickening thing of all… they seem to think they’re giving me a compliment by doing this. Look, if I’ve purposely shown a character in a way that’s clearly intended to titillate then yes, it’s a compliment. When sex isn’t the point of the image, you trying to turn it into the point is a slap in the face. So, if the image makes you “excited” for some reason, please don’t tell me. Kay?
There are many reasons why we need strong female figures in comics and media. One of the reasons is so when a writer shows a female character dealing with issues and overcoming obstacles, the first thing out of folk’s mouths isn’t how “do-able” she is.
We need strong role models for the young women out there. We also need to be able to show these role models and have their stories and struggles not be devalued simply because they’re perceived as good looking.