The world is on the brink of disaster, and the only thing that can save it is....pandas. Yes, you heard right: pandas. These are not your average bamboo munching pandas. The pandas of The Panda Chronicles compete in the Olympics, appear on National Panda Radio, star in soap operas and compete on games shows.
The Panda Chronicles series stars panda about town, Bob T. Panda, his panda lady in waiting, Babette de Panda, the ever more rascally panda kindergarten, and to keep them all in line, Mehitabel the Cat.
I started drawing the cartoons about 5 years ago, when a chance encounter with an article about pandas reminded me of my childhood love of pandas. This led me to search out panda videos on youtube, and many (many, many, many) hours of videos of pandas on slides, pandas in cribs, and pandas eating bamboo later, I was drawing pandas as if my sanity depended on it. And perhaps it does.
I use current events as a spring board for the subject matter for many of my cartoons, in addition to jokes that are panda specific. (You can really only tell so many jokes about bamboo, or their 24 hour a year sex life, after all.) After I had developed a big pile of cartoons, I decided to start a blog, as my friends were starting to run in the other direction when they saw me coming with a pile of papers, deaf to my cries of, "but you have to read this one! it's really funny...oh well, and what do you think of these?"
Last year I felt that I had enough cartoons of high quality to publish a book. While I did get some positive response from some agents and publishers, none felt confident enough to sign me on. I decided to self publish and created a successful funding campaign on Kickstarter in order to publish the first book.
Besides getting some money to complete the project, being on Kickstarter added to my mailing list, and helped to make my Facebook friends Panda Chronicle supporters.
I am slowly finding my way towards marketing my book. I want the marketing to be somewhat intuitive and organic, meaning that it has to feel right or I won't do it. I definitely do not want to do things to market that annoy me when I see others doing those things. ( I really hate contests and things that rely on getting people to vote for you, especially when you are "encouraged" to vote multiple times per day.)
My 11 Point Marketing Plan, (with time frame following in parentheses):
1. Do more guest posting/ plan a blog tour Not in a "Hey! buy my book!" sort of way, but if i have a relevant cartoon/topic that I can write about. I've been doing some, but plan to do this regularly.(Ongoing with Blog tour happening by June/July)
2. I am taking a series of workshops on Indie Book Marketing from the folks of Duolit on tuning up my Facebook fan page, sending out better newsletters, and planning your own blog tour. The workshops are very comprehensive and easy to follow, and I've already made some improvements to my facebook author page, as well as gotten some very helpful hints about my newsletters. My big challenge here is to develope a FB posting and newsletter writing/sending schedule that I can live with. My day job is being a fine artist which has supported me for 25 years, and incorporating the newsletters into that part of my life is a neccessityas well. (Ongoing)
3. Add a website for The Panda Chronicles. I have been getting by with my blog, but now I would like to add some plug ins to direct people to Amazon more easily. (By early June)
4. Get more people to write reviews. Asking on FB, newsletters, kickstarter update page. (from here to eternity)
5. Tune up my Amazon profile/ sign up on goodreads (by end of May)
6. Learn how to use twitter (May/June)
7. Develop a media page for my blog and website. (By end of June)
8. Be more systematic about how i use my Facebook Fan Page. (per Duolit workshops)
9. Use more links when I post my cartoons on the blogs, especially on Wednesday, which is the heaviest vistor day. I am on a Monday/wednesday Friday Schedule with new cartoons on Monday and Wednesday and an "encore cartoon" on Fridays. (in the process)
10. Taglines: do some brain storming to find a really good tagline. ((by end of May)
11. Start following some of my favorite cartoonists on twitter, and see if I can get some notice from them. (starting now.)
Anne Belov has been a pandamaniac since childhood. Four years ago, a chance encounter with an Atlantic Monthly story on pandas reignited her obsession. Since then, her online cartoon The Panda Chronicles has been gaining fans in leaps and bounds. A serious painter, as well as a panda punster, Ms Belov resides in the Pacific Northwest where she presides over the Institute for Contemporary Panda Satire. Her main regret in life is that there is no MacArthur Grant awarded in the field of Panda Satire.
You can see what the pandas have up their sleeves…er…paws at http://yourbrainonpandas.wordpress.com