I get occasional emails, usually suspiciously generic, saying “hey I love your comic, how do I promote mine?” Sometimes I write back and sometimes the person who wrote it actually says thank you. That’s usually a pretty good indicator of whether you upset them or not.
I didn’t get a reply to this one, but it’s the best way I know how to give this advice, so here’s my answer for posterity. (For clarity, the writer said that they didn’t think they’d get very far with their efforts. Their comic, a gag strip, wasn’t bad at all - but I’d have said the same things to them if they’d sent me to look at 100 identical-looking photographs of the same piece of carpet.)
“I don’t have a lot of promoting tips. I got my start 15 years ago and nothing is the same now. The best way to get your work popular is to do good work, do a lot of it, and win people over with the force of your lovely personality. If your comics are no good, it doesn’t matter what you do.
Don’t say things like “I don’t expect I’ll get anywhere.” Self deprecation isn’t appealing when people don’t know your work. It’s just an excuse for them not to bother looking at it. Be self deprecating when they’re hanging medals around your neck. Self doubt is normal, it’s what makes us try harder. But keep it to yourself for now.
I read all the comics on your site, you have some good ideas. If every comic needs a paragraph of explanation, you’re not doing it right. To succeed with the kind of comics you’re making, they have to stand alone on the strength of the idea. You have to express that idea as perfectly as possible, so that people will share the comic with their friends. You have to make them wish that they had had that clever notion.
I hope that helps and isn’t massively patronising. Good luck.”