Some Tips For The Hostson July 13, 2012 at 6:00 am
Get the entire album here:
I basically had this wild idea to send them on a trip zig-zagging their way across the world as a promotional gimmick. I wanted people to find out about my comics Writhe and Shine and Overcast With A Chance Of DOOM! in a completely different way than with just traditional media. It seemed to me that the internet was flooded with banners and ads and posts about all sorts of things and I felt that my stuff would just get lost in the shuffle, that no one would pay any attention. So I took a cue from the movie Amélie and had some unique dolls made of my main characters and then sent them on their way with a set of instructions.
Like I said, I had no clue as to what I had gotten myself into or, more importantly, what I had gotten other people into.
A couple months into the campaign, I got the Doomie doll back and decided to take her around Seattle and the scene, just like I suggested in the instructions. I have had a fun time with it but ran into a few hurdles along the way. I have also received a few comments from previous Hosts as to what hurdles they encountered.
First and foremost, it is hard to go up to someone and say, “Can you take a picture with this doll?” It sounds kind of stupid and creepy if you think about it and no one wants to sound stupid. Creepy, on the other hand, is a whole different story. I asked several people this question and most of them said, “What? You want me to take a picture of you with the doll?” I quickly realized that my wording was confusing. I changed the phrase to, “May I take your picture with this doll?” which worked better. But then I felt weird about calling it a doll. Of course it’s a doll, but isn’t it more than just that? Yes. It is a comic character called Doomie [or Writhe or Shine]. My phrasing progressed to, “May I take your picture with my comic book character? Her name is Doomie.” That pretty much seemed to clear up most of their initial questions which gave me the time to take one or two shots of them holding the doll.
When they handed it back I explained to them that it was a project similar to the Travelling Lawn Gnome. Most people knew what I was talking about. Only a few of them needed further explanation. I then asked for their Facebook information so that I could Tag them when the photos went up. This is IMPORTANT. [It's weird enough having a stranger come up to you asking for a picture, but your digits too? C'mon!] But when I finally got around to tagging them in the place where all the other photos had been posted, that’s when they would “get it”, at least that’s what I was hoping for.
A previous Host for Shine suggested that it would have been a lot easier to be able to hand people a little flyer or something with the website address on it to give them an added push to search out the meaning of the project in which they just participated. So that’s why I just uploaded a couple images for current Hosts to download and print at their leisure. Try them out and let me know if they work.
Next, I heard that a couple people have had to spend more money than they expected when shipping the doll overseas. Please don’t automatically think that you have to send them overseas all the time. Sending them to the next city over is perfectly acceptable. But if you do find yourself wanting to ship them across the world keep in mind that you have several options when doing so.
Your country’s Postal System is available, sometimes with Flat Rate boxes. There is also UPS, FedEx, and DHL. It is smart to get several quotes to determine the lowest cost before shipping. I have found that UPS usually charges the most. I think that regular postal systems may charge a hefty fee for a tracking number. You automatically get one with FedEx and DHL. I believe that a couple of those companies do not charge for insurance up to a certain amount, but you shouldn’t be stating the package is worth that much in the first place.
You will have to fill out Customs paperwork as well if you ship overseas. This may seem like a pain the butt, but it’s really not that bad. Just take your time filling it out when you’re not standing in line or you’re in a hurry. It can wait. Don’t worry about it. It’s better that you enter the address correctly than have the package going to the wrong postal code. Fill out the forms so as to create as little headache for the receiver as possible. You don’t want to make your friend have to pay anything in Duties or Taxes. State that the contents is a gift of $20 if you have to. When in doubt, ask the friend you are sending it to, or just ask the company that would mail it off. It seriously doesn’t hurt to just ask.
So, yeah. All future Hosts [or readers that are interested] feel free to post your experiences here. And thank you for participating! I’m looking forward to meeting a whole mess of new people!