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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Another Source of Stories..With Built-In Backup

This is going to be a short one, I assure you.

Endorsements can help your book get some level of publicity, just enough to kick off a notch of interest from people. No, I'm not talking about getting a good word in from a highly-popular comics star, but that can help, too.

In a couple of previous posts, I sort of raised the flag in favor of graphic novels for and about women. But that's not the only avenue you can explore.

You can also create a story around a social cause. A cause you, as a creator, firmly believe in.

This is an opportunity for you, as an artist, to look within yourself and see what you are most concerned about as a freethinking and responsible citizen.

Is it discrimination? Animal rights? The environment? Poverty? Abortion? Child abuse? Homosexual rights? Religious tolerance? There's more out there to choose from, but you have to exercise honesty and genuine compassion when zeroing in on that social issue that gets you reeling.

Once you have completed your graphic novel, send copies to local or state chapters of organizations involved in that cause, and ask if your book is something they could support. They don't have to spend anything--an endorsement is enough. A review in their publication would be better. And if they're willing to give at least a one-sentence seal of approval, it's enough to add meat to your press releases. They might even ask you to be a speaker in one of their regular gatherings.

A few notes:

1) The social issue has to be something you believe in and support. This would ensure that your passion will take you through the writing and art stage. Also, choosing an issue you support as opposed to something that's merely 'hot and controversial' will help boost your credibility, and not make you look like you're an opportunistic milkman.

2) Your story has to present both sides of the issue, good and bad, pros and cons, with your thesis shining through by the story's conclusion. Thus, a lot of your time needs to be spent on research--reading, observation, even interviews. But remember that you're still out there to entertain and exercise your art and craft as a storyteller. You don't want to be perceived as hawking propaganda.

3) The tricky part is to make the social issue integral to the story, and not the story itself, unless that's what you want. Again, remember that you are first and foremost a storyteller. While you must inform, you must also intrigue and entertain.

4) Once you've chosen a social issue, check far and wide to make sure there are formal and sizeable organizations who rally about that issue. If there aren't, try and find another issue to talk about. The objective, after all, is finding the numbers who can back you up. This doesn't mean that your cause of choice isn't worth your time and effort. You're still starting out and trying to get your name out there. You can go back to your original choice once you've gotten your feet wet with your first book.

5) You can talk about more than one issue in your story, but it is imperative to have one main issue, that which is integral to the story. Having too many issues of equal weight will eventually cancel each other out, and it will be more difficult to find one organization to support it.

6) Your stories can be of the superhero genre, too, though arguably it would a stretch to incorporate a social cause. Some causes that can work with the superhero genre are:

a) Soldiers Who Are Minors
b) The Disabled
c) Media Ethics
d) Age Discrimination
e) Death Penalty
f) Drug Abuse
g) Immigration

For a list of social causes, here's the Yahoo! directory.

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