You must have seen this: Comic book fans keep picking up issues they suspect are bad even though they’ve heard recommendations of other comics that are probably better.
Here’s the answer!
The Harsh Realities of Being an Indie Publisher
Here’s one of the biggest fact I’ve learned since becoming a publisher: Good reviews don’t generate sales.
One of our comic book series was hailed as “the best sci-fi comic on the market today” across the board and sales did not improve as a result. Nada. Zilch.
Why is that?
All right, people are wary of trying something new. But there has to be more to it than that, right?
I think I’ve found it!
Ever hear of ‘loss aversion’?
It’s a widely known economics idea, used time and time again in marketing to get more people to buy.
It basically says that when presented with an option of getting something great or not losing something, people would prefer not to lose rather than get something great.
Sound weird? I know. But it works!
Sure, the idea’s been tested to death and it works, but I wanted to try it myself.
On Twitter I was publishing a page a day of the TV pilot script for one of our comics.
When I switched from describing it this way (“Exclusive!” – a word showing gain) to describing what a person would miss (“Don’t miss out!” – a word showing loss) the engagement rate on Twitter tripled.
Three times as many people clicked on it or responded to it!
Three times as many! Just because of the phrase change. Just because the framing of it changed from gain to loss.
How Does This Relate to Bad Comic Books?
Think about it like this.
Why do most people buy all those massive crossovers, or the PR stunts like ‘Female Thor’, ‘Spider-Verse’, ‘Secret Wars’, ‘The New 52’, ‘Death of Wolverine’, and so on and so on?
Why are these such marketing successes and bestsellers?
Sure, some people think they’ll get great stories. But I’m betting most don’t. I’m betting most people know there are really good stories just a bit left or right of those stories.
I think it’s loss aversion.
People don’t expect to get something good, they’re afraid to lose out on something, anything.
It doesn’t matter what they’re afraid of losing. It could be they’re afraid to miss an important moment in the life of a character they love (rather than miss out on a good story). It could be they don’t want to miss out on the one interesting moment they hope will be there. Or it could be they’re afraid to miss out on the conversation everyone’s going to have about this new cross-over/series/whatever.
Let me repeat that.
People don’t buy these comic books by the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands because they expect them to be good, but because they’re afraid to miss out on something.
That’s how loss aversion gets us to buy bad comics. That’s why good reviews for new comics don’t generate sales.
What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let me know in the comments!
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