Marketing All-Ages Comics to Teachers and Parents
Last week, while we were discussing the marketing of all-ages comics, I mentioned that I had done some research on marketing comics to teachers and parents (particularly parents who home-school).
As my boys started advancing grades in school, I started to notice that some of their teachers were assigning books based on different Readability Indexes. Readability Indexes are measurements that educators use to gauge the appropriateness of a given piece of reading material to a person at a certain level of reading. Educators use these scales to make sure the books that their students aren’t too difficult for them — and to gradually increase the difficulty level as the students’ skills increase.
There are several Readability tests in active use. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
Fry Readability Scale
The Fry Readability Scale is calculated by the average number of sentences (y-axis) and syllables (x-axis) per hundred words. The resulting number determines the approximate grade level the text is appropriate for.
Flesch and Flesch-Kincaid
Using the Flesch Reading Ease test, higher scores indicate material that is easier to read; lower numbers mark passages that are more difficult to read. The formula for the Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES) test is:
Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level Formula
- uses a formula, based on the Flesch formula, to arrive at a grade-level approximation that teachers and parents can use to gauge the appropriateness of text.
The result is a number that corresponds with a grade level.
And then there’s the Dale-Chall formula, which determined a list of 3,000 easy words. Okapi, a Web-based app can take a writing sample and it give you a grade-level approximation based on the Dale-Chall formula.
Microsoft Word… Readability tool?!
In Microsoft Word, under Preferences, you can select “Check Readability Levels.” When you do a Grammar check, it will give you information on several Readability gauges, including an approximate grade-level (based on the Flesch-Kincaid scale) and a reading-ease score.
An industrious cartoonist could use all of this information to his or her advantage in several ways. At the very least, they could assess their comic’s scores on these different scales. They could post the reading-scale level(s) prominently on their Web site, and they could use it in their marketing/promotion outreach to parents and teachers.
You could take it one step further and develop supplemental booklets (written at the same readability index), based on the comic, that talk about educational issues touched on in the comic. For example, could you imagine a superhero comic, aimed at kids, that featured a storyline about an ice-powered super-villain that sold, as a digital download, a booklet that talked about the sciene behind the story… including experiments you can do with ice… the concepts of contraction/expansion due to heat… etc.
But what if someone took that idea one step further? What if someone started putting out standalone gag comics at different reading levels and then grouped those comics on a portal site that delivered all of the comics at a given level on a given reading index? Parents and teachers could then set up a screen for a student (or print out the results) that deliver numerous funny, engaging strips aimed directly at the kid’s reading level. And as the reading level of the student increases, the adult simply enters new parameters and gets a bunch of new reading material for that youngster.
And better still, a site like this could easily be operated on the subscription model. You wouldn’t have to rely on advertising to make it run. Parents and teachers could be convinced to buy a monthly or yearly subscription to access the resources. If the content is there, the subscriptions will spread and continue.
It’s a concept I’ve rolled around in my head for a long time now, and I may even attempt it myself if I can fit it into my schedule. In the meantime, I’m throwing it out there to see what you folks can do with it.