Questions about Getting Reviewed

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Questions about Getting Reviewed

Postby JSConner800 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:25 am

Hey everybody. I'm in charge of public relations for our webcomic, and while thinking of new ways to get exposure for our work, I thought of seeking out reviews. Steel Salvation did really well at W.A.Y, and I'd like to see how it would fare on serious review sites, if such a thing exists. This is where my ignorance of the webcomic community shows itself again, but I'd like to correct that sooner rather than later. My first question is this: how much content, roughly, do you guys and gals recommend before we seek critical reviews? Our comic is story-driven, about four to nine panels per strip, and currently at 19 (almost 20) strips. I know 20 strips is enough to put up our comic in the Comic Pitching forum, but I don't know if it's enough for a reviewer to really dig into. I suspect we might be better off waiting until part 1 is complete, which will be another 30 strips, but I'd like to know if anyone has any advice on that front, because I don't really want to wait around too long. Not for any practical reasons, mostly just because I simultaneously crave and shun attention, so I'm always anxious for feedback on the things I create and then impersonally dump onto the internet. I can wait as long as I need to if it's for the good of the comic, though.

Second question: where might we find a place that does critical webcomic reviews, and how would we go about laying Steel Salvation on the chopping block? Do you have to know a guy who knows a guy? Do you have to send a nice cover letter with a link to your comic? I don't know how formal/informal or inclusive/exclusive the process is, so if this is something to keep in mind for the future of our comic, I'd like to be filled in on the basics. I suppose it depends on the site or the particular reviewer, but I wouldn't even know where to start. Anyway, if you've got some tips for me, I'd really appreciate it :D
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Re: Questions about Getting Reviewed

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:31 am

Personally I'd suggest waiting until you have a full chapter/part done, basically it's best if you're able to tell a complete story episode so that the reviewer has a better understanding of your storytelling abilities.

As for looking for reviews, I'd suggest you start by asking LC to review it for Webcomic Police, you will get an honest but constructive review.
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Re: Questions about Getting Reviewed

Postby LibertyCabbage on Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:33 am

1) Review sites aren't a good way to get exposure because they don't get much traffic anyways, at least not compared to webcomics. io9.com's the exception because it's a more generalized site, but from what I've seen, they only "review" (more like, summarize the plot of) webcomics that are already popular. You'd get better results bugging your co-creators to do fan art or guest comics for other webcomics since a front-page shoutout on a high-traffic webcomic would be nice. Twitter and Tumblr also have some potential for free pageviews (and possibly Facebook as well, but it seems to be on the decline). Paid advertising gets much better results, though, of course.

2) I think having a smaller page count is actually better because it speeds up the review process. The apparent reason for having the 20-page minimum isn't so much being able to judge the story as just that inexperienced webcartoonists constantly abandon their projects, and having 20 pages at least demonstrates a minimal level of commitment. I think it's BS when people say you have to read a lot of pages to tell if something's high-quality or not, but I'll probably write an article on that soon to elaborate on it since it's an issue that keeps coming up.

3) I suggest waiting on a full chapter (or equivalent in page count) before advertising because, as I mentioned in the previous point, a lot of webcartoonists are (understandably) flaky, and it's normal for potential readers to be skeptical about new webcomics, because getting attached to a story and then having it stop updating is disappointing. So, I think potential readers are more likely to turn into regular readers if they get the impression that you're in for the long-haul and are comfortable with the rigors of webcartooning. Exhibit A of this is how webcomics that have been running for 5-plus (or, better yet, 10-plus) years tend to have high readerships even if the quality of the strips or pages is low.

4) All you gotta do is ask a reviewer (like me) for a review, or post in the Smack Jeeves reviews subforum (which doesn't require hosting on SJ). I can post a list of all the webcomic reviewers if you'd like, although I have a low opinion of all of them besides the Webcomic Police people and El Santo. Speaking of which, maybe I should set up some kind of review request section on the WP site to make this kinda thing more convenient since there are multiple reviewers involved.
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Re: Questions about Getting Reviewed

Postby JSConner800 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 11:23 pm

Awesome, thanks for the advice, guys. I was mostly pursuing the reviewer route because it seems like the cheapest (and potentially easiest) way to get the word out, but it sounds like the results we'd get would be pretty much equivalent to the time and effort put in. Unfortunately, my co-creators don't read a lot of webcomics, so it'd be hard to get them to do fan art for one of the comics I read, but I don't see how any artist could object to some Dr. McNinja fanart. We have a Facebook page where we post concept art and whatnot, but I don't think we've gotten a single stranger to like the page, so that's been kind of a bust so far. We have a Tumblr, but we haven't really done anything with it yet, and twitter is still a remote possibility, even though none of us care for the idea.

Basically, it sounds like we should just keep plugging away until we finish part 1, and then we can worry about building an audience. I agree that 20 is a pretty decent show of commitment (we just hit that milestone tonight!), but with a slow-burning story like ours, you'd need the full first chapter to get a good idea of how the story is shaping up and how all of this setup is beginning to pay off. It's true that you can tell the quality of a comic within the first 20 pages or less, but more strips will certainly give a reviewer more to talk about, since as Scooby said, a complete chapter will better demonstrate our storytelling abilities. Hell, I watched Breaking Bad when it first aired, and I could tell it was a quality show, but it had a pretty slow burn for its first season, and I couldn't appreciate it at the time, so I fell behind and stopped watching. It wasn't until the end of the second season that people started to get hooked, and it took me until just now to go back and watch it from the beginning. Now that I can see where they were going with all that family drama and back-and-forth bickering, I can appreciate the first season for laying down the foundation that the rest of the show is built on.

Okay, I'd better cut the Breaking Bad talk short. I could go on for awhile. The point is, I agree that you don't need a huge backlog to write an accurate review of a comic, but at the same time, I think that some comics can benefit from having a greater number of strips available to read. I also think our comic falls under that category, so I'll just be patient and get our first chapter out there before seriously pursuing an audience. We're still having fun with it, so it really doesn't make much of a difference whether anyone else reads it at the moment or not. No need to write up a list of reviewers, LC. I trust your judgment, and if you don't think they're worth the time, then we won't bother. I'll certainly be contacting you once Prisoner of the Dust is complete, though. And I'll look into this Webcomic Police thing, too. They sound like they mean business.
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Re: Questions about Getting Reviewed

Postby LibertyCabbage on Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:43 am

JSConner800 wrote:Awesome, thanks for the advice, guys. I was mostly pursuing the reviewer route because it seems like the cheapest (and potentially easiest) way to get the word out, but it sounds like the results we'd get would be pretty much equivalent to the time and effort put in. Unfortunately, my co-creators don't read a lot of webcomics, so it'd be hard to get them to do fan art for one of the comics I read, but I don't see how any artist could object to some Dr. McNinja fanart. We have a Facebook page where we post concept art and whatnot, but I don't think we've gotten a single stranger to like the page, so that's been kind of a bust so far. We have a Tumblr, but we haven't really done anything with it yet, and twitter is still a remote possibility, even though none of us care for the idea.
I think the main strategy for teams is for the writer to handle non-comic stuff so that the artist/s can focus 100 percent on the pages. Advertising's a pain in the ass, though (especially if you're on a tight budget), and if there was an easy way to get popular, I'm sure more people on the forums here would have popular webcomics. In any case, you should probably check out this thread on free advertising for ideas.

JSConner800 wrote:Basically, it sounds like we should just keep plugging away until we finish part 1, and then we can worry about building an audience. I agree that 20 is a pretty decent show of commitment (we just hit that milestone tonight!), but with a slow-burning story like ours, you'd need the full first chapter to get a good idea of how the story is shaping up and how all of this setup is beginning to pay off. It's true that you can tell the quality of a comic within the first 20 pages or less, but more strips will certainly give a reviewer more to talk about, since as Scooby said, a complete chapter will better demonstrate our storytelling abilities. Hell, I watched Breaking Bad when it first aired, and I could tell it was a quality show, but it had a pretty slow burn for its first season, and I couldn't appreciate it at the time, so I fell behind and stopped watching. It wasn't until the end of the second season that people started to get hooked, and it took me until just now to go back and watch it from the beginning. Now that I can see where they were going with all that family drama and back-and-forth bickering, I can appreciate the first season for laying down the foundation that the rest of the show is built on.
It might be worth keeping in mind that the top 5 webcomics have all been going for eight-plus years (with the creator of Oglaf getting her start in print back in the '90s). So, it really takes a while to build up an audience, especially if you don't have crazy-good artwork that's going to "wow" people from the start.

JSConner800 wrote:No need to write up a list of reviewers, LC. I trust your judgment, and if you don't think they're worth the time, then we won't bother. I'll certainly be contacting you once Prisoner of the Dust is complete, though. And I'll look into this Webcomic Police thing, too. They sound like they mean business.
The ones that aren't so obscure are sites with names like The Bad Webcomic Wiki, Your Webcomic Is Bad and You Should Feel Bad, and Shitty Webcomics. So, I think that kinda explains where webcomic criticism's at. The Webcomic Police is an attempt to have webcomic reviews that are actually good.
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Re: Questions about Getting Reviewed

Postby JSConner800 on Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:39 pm

[quote="LibertyCabbage"]I think the main strategy for teams is for the writer to handle non-comic stuff so that the artist/s can focus 100 percent on the pages. Advertising's a pain in the ass, though (especially if you're on a tight budget), and if there was an easy way to get popular, I'm sure more people on the forums here would have popular webcomics. In any case, you should probably check out this thread on free advertising for ideas.

That's probably for the best. I'm over a year ahead on scripts, so aside from commentary, doodling storyboards to help out my artists, and socializing on forums, I don't have much else to do for the comic at the moment. We'll definitely look into advertising at some point. I read a thread that you guys posted somewhere that seemed to indicate Project Wonderful was a fairly good deal, and I see a lot of other webcomics advertising through them, so that's probably where I'll go.
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