Tiny Astronaut and I offered some books in our Etsy store with free shipping. We had a few transactions that week, which was encouraging, but no big dump truck full of money outside of our door to be found.
Still, that was one sale, and it was only for a few items. It stands to reason that we shouldn't give up on this idea until we've tried it a few different ways. Also, the difference between the items we offer in our Etsy store and some of my other books is that I talk about certain books an awful lot on the Art & Story podcast. So this week (Feb 23-Mar 02), I'm offering The Front for $12--$3 off the regular price.
Here's the interesting thing about hosting a podcast about the craft of making comics: Lots and lots of people may listen, but it doesn't mean that they're familiar with your work. I was listening to one of my favorite comics shows lately, and a listener participant openly expressed his ignorance of the host's publishing history. This says to me that you can attract a wide and enthusiastic audience with your content on a podcast, strengthening your brand as a podcast host and comics evangelist, meanwhile doing comparatively little to help spread awareness of your work as a cartoonist. I've seen little in the way of traffic spikes on my Make Like A Tree Comics website since starting the Art & Story Podcast over a year ago, even though I've used The Front countless times as an example of the practices and techniques we discuss on the show.
Please don't misunderstand me--I don't drop my projects' names on the show purely in order to drive readers to my sites. I like to think that I'm fairly natural and honest in the mentioning of my projects on the show. It helps to demonstrate that I practice what I preach, that I'm not a sophist. However, one might assume that an added benefit of doing so would be that some percentage of listeners would be driven to read the comics. At least I assumed as much.
(also in my defense, The Front took me 5 years to create, and was an intense learning experience in the craft of comics-making. Anyone might be tempted to talk excessively about a project that was such a large part of their life)
I think it probably has a lot to do with the fact that we use our work to support our points. In other words, the points we make are the content of the show, not the books we produce that support the points. So you can't blame listeners for not purchasing the book when it's not what they came for in the first place. We've done a few episodes that are essentially commentary tracks on some of our finished projects, and in those cases we've seen some spikes in traffic on our comics sites. But in those cases, the listeners' full understanding of the content depends on whether or not they've read the comics in question. I have no information on how many "reading fans" we've made through those podcast episodes, either.
So these next few moves are to test out the "sale" as what the marketing folks like to call a "call to action" on the part of your audience. Instead of reminding folks every week that we make comics at our respective websites, we're going to try creating incentives from time to time to invite listeners to become more active in their support of us as cartoonists, which in turn supports the podcast. I'm curious how this sale on The Front will go--as I said, I mention the comic practically every week on the show, so it's not likely that it will catch folks by surprise that it's out there in print. One might assume that this would increase the work's chances to have some strong sales during the promotion, but I'm going to try to remain cautiously optimistic about it for now.
And of course, I'll post the results here.