TMBMM #2 "Popularity, Spam and Success"
- Apr 16, 2012 5:56 AM
Hello everyone~, welcome to my second blog post in the Top Mistakes Beginning Mangaka Make.
This time, I'm bringing up a topic I hadn't intended to bring up until later... But in light of some recent events which I'm not going to mention explicitly, I thought it might be worthwhile to get this out in the open.
Again, I disclaim that these are only my opinions, and mine alone. I don't pretend to be an expert on any of these topics, and I hereby give you all the right to agree or disagree with what I have to say here. I also give you the right to share your opinions with me, I'd love to hear what you all think of this topic!
Other Posts in the Series
Top Mistakes Beginning Mangaka Make
(and how to avoid them)
2. Popularity, Spam and Success
Who doesn't want their manga to be popular? To be read the world over? To sell 15,000,000 copies in the first week of release?
It's always nice to log on and see that another few people have become 'fans' of your manga. It's a nice, warm feeling of appreciation. But what about when you take a look at your friend's page, only to see that they've got twice as many fans as you! Does that little tingle of pride sort of fizzle into a dull, concaving pull of self doubt?
Why do they have that many fans already!? They only started their manga three days ago! And mine is so much better in every way! I'll get three times as many fans as them, you wait and see..!
Well of course 'better' is all a matter of individual opinion, but I think you see my point here. The number of fans you have is not always relative to the success of your manga. Think of DeviantArt and it's user's comical quests for page views. You can be as 'popular' as anyone, but that doesn't mean your manga is any better or worse than someone's with less fans. Getting competitive and caught up in the numbers can easily sap the fun out of creating your manga.
Undoubtedly you'll want people to be reading your manga, though. Creating exposure for yourself is essential when you have a story to tell, whether it's just to collect those ellusive fans or reach out to that demographic who is going to love your manga. There is a right way and a wrong (well, seriously annoying way) to do this though. This brings me to the topic of...
Spam. We all come face to face with it at some stage in our internet lives. It's always the same old messages about super diets, pretend holidays, bereavement and inheretance claims regarding people who aren't even related to you, making certain bodily extremities larger... That sort of thing.
It's annoying. It's impersonal. And it's disappointing to open your inbox to find that the "3 new emails!" notification flashing there on the screen were nothing but people trying to sell you a (possibly imaginary) product you're probably not interested in.
So why people insist on trying to advertise their manga in this way is completely beyond me.
But is it Spam?
- Is it impersonal?
- Has the same/very similar message been sent to numerous other people?
- Is there any evidence that the poster has given any time or thought as to whether you might enjoy their manga or not?
Sure, it can work. I've seen it work, in fact, when I was new in a certain webcomic sharing site, I'd respond to messages such as "Hi, I like your stuff, come look at mine! [link]" with "Oh, sure!" Following with me actually taking time out of my coffee breaks to traul through someone's work which I wasn't particularly interested in out of obligation. Now, I just ignore and hide these messages. Especially if I see exctly the same message plastered on everyone else's pages.
Now, had these people approached me in a different manner; introduced themselves, said something relevent to my work, started a conversation with me.. I'd have been much much more inclined to go see what they were doing, and see if I could return the support somehow. In other words, what goes around, comes around. Just a suggestion.
"But Vervain!" I hear you cry, "I'm just a newbie here. I have to get attention for my manga somehow! Isn't the best way to do that to comment everyone on the whole entire site!?" Yes, of course you do, and no, it isn't. There are many manymany more rewarding and effective ways to do this:
- Get active! Post promotional artworks, browse the forums, talk to people personally and make friends. If you check out their manga and send a comment their way (no, not the same message to everyone telling them you read their manga and that you recommend they check out yours too), chances are they'll return the favor. If they're interested in it, hell! They might even read it! Isn't it better to have genuine fans who adore your work than a bunch of people who have stopped by with no hopes of them returning again? Perhaps they'll even affiliate with you!
- Network on other sites! DeviantArt is an obvious choice for reaching people with similar artistic interests, but also consider creating a twitter account and/or a facebook dedicated to your manga. Anyone who hasn't noticed the power of these social networking tools is living in a box. Even I have to concede that it might be worth my while to make a Facebook for my manga, and I detest the site. Apart from this, various manga oriented forums or other places you frequent on the web are perfect places to promote your work. Post about it on a forum, wear a link to it in your signature, make a youtube trailer about your story and watch the intrerest build.
- Purchase AdSpace! Not something I recommend to people who haven't got the money to splash, but placing a banner ad on the right sites is a surefire way to get your manga noticed and in the path of traffic. Please note how I've italicized 'right sites' in the previous sentence. You don't want to go about advertising your comedic shounen action series on a website dedicated to the cultivation of wine grapes, for instance (part of this is all about identifying your target audience, but that's a topic for another time)
Don't allow a lack of 'fans' to discourage you or stop you from creating your manga. Not here, and not on any other site. First and foremost, you should be crafting this story out for your own enjoyment, not for superficial popularity. You first, the people who enjoy your manga second, then everyone else.
And please don't spam people. In the long run, the tactic can be counter productive ( you might only be remembered as 'that person who spammed their manga to everyone' rather than 'the creator of the ____ manga' )
Remember, the real secret to success is persistence. The most successful mangaka are those who have seen their works through 'til the end, after all! (or, on and on and on and on and on and so on and so forth if you happen to be intent on writing something along the lines of Kochikame in terms of length, which I do not recommend...)