Let's Talk Business #2
5 Tips for Self-Publishing Your First Comic
Getting your work published is a huge deal! All the pitching and meeting and rejections and… wait, no. Scratch that. Let’s talk about doing it the good ol’ DIY way. Self-publishing: let’s talk.
Over the years, this DIY approach to getting one’s work out there has become far more common. I may even go so far as to say we’re in a bit of an indie boom.
The accessibility of doing things yourself has really blown the doors open for the creative folks out there to get their work to the masses, and it’s amazing.
However, I still see a lot of works put out that clearly haven’t gone through the proper steps. Some worse than others, of course.
What I want to talk about is some of the basic steps that can be taken to really ramp up the quality of your work. I’m by no means an expert, but I think these things are fairly common starting points that some creators may not heed as much as they should.
This is not in response to, or aimed at, anyone in particular… With that said, let’s get into it.
1. Know What You Want to Do
Have a vision!
I’d like to think that we all can agree upon this simple idea: When going into a new project, it’s best to know what you want to accomplish.
Okay, next point.
Seriously, if you’re going to dive into a project where you’re pouring in your time, effort, creative juices, and even cash, do the legwork up front to flesh things out.
You should have a handle on the groundwork of this endeavor. Is this a property that you’re taking seriously? Are you willing to put the necessary resources into this project? These things can take some serious chunks of your time. You need to be comfortable with that. Ride or die, baby!
Know exactly what you’re trying to get across. Know your messages and themes. Know your genre. Know your audience. Is this a one-shot or a series? Know everything you can beforehand because, almost as sure as death and taxes, you’ll have some unexpected shit pop up on you. The more you have a handle on to begin with, the better.
2. Invest the Time
Don’t underestimate the time required to do this.
As stated above, this sort of thing can take up serious chunks of time. What’s even more daunting is that you could have a hard time nailing down just how much it’ll be. Things can change, and they can change quickly. Things come up. Life gets in the way. You just never know.
You need to be willing to put in the time. Your time is one of the biggest investments you’ll put into a project. And it’s one of the most valuable. Make sure you utilize it well.
Now, I’ve seen some projects come and go, where the creator clearly hadn’t put in the time. It’s commendable to get the book out there, but it’s much more impressive to do it with a quality product. Right? So, no shortcuts. Be ready to dig your heels in!
3. Hire Am Editor <--- (See what I did there?)
We’ve all probably seen the occasional typo in major works. It’s not going to ruin the book but, speaking for myself, it takes me out of my suspension of disbelief for a moment, as I analyze and/or scoff at the blunder. However, when mistakes like that become repetitive, they also become bothersome.
These things aren’t always just typos and grammatical errors. In worse cases, whole panels can be in the wrong place, and sometimes even more egregious errors occur.
I bring this point up because, unfortunately, I’ve seen quite a bit of this sort of thing in self-published works. Now, I’m by no means saying it needs to be perfect. Let’s be real, sometimes these things escape an editor too. That happens. But let’s not play with the odds by not bothering in the first place.
Even for my short five-page story, I hired someone to look it over. You may find that to be overkill but, for me, it’s about peace of mind. It also makes me feel just a tad bit more professional… maybe that’s just me.
Either way, don’t skip this step. It can take your self-published work up a notch or two and provide that extra layer of professionalism.
4. Choose the Right Team
For most, making comics is sort of a group effort (especially for you writers out there). With that in mind, you want to make sure that you gather the right team for the job.
That doesn’t always mean using the folks that you've used before, or that you have a good rapport with. Stepping outside the go-tos and approaching new talent might be just what you need. Or not! It really depends, and this is where your due diligence comes in.
Picking the right team for a certain project is super important, if you ask me. I know you didn’t ask but… shut up, you're reading it.
Personally, I put a lot of time into this part of the process. As a writer and non-artist, I have to look forward to coughing up some dough if I want to get the job done. Since that’s the case, I like to make sure I choose the right person(s) for the task.
Picking a collaborator with the wrong style is bad. Picking a collaborator with a bad reputation is even worse. Make sure you vet as much as you can. Doing this for each member (artist, writer, colorist, editor, letterer, etc.) will save your ass in the long run.
Also, make sure you choose someone that you respect enough to value their input. Having someone else’s expertise to pull from is a big part of it.
With the way freelance tends to work—throwing your hard-earned money into the voids of the internet and hoping for a return—you’d better make sure you have a good idea of how reliable they are.
I can’t stress this point enough. Choose the artist/writer/inker/colorist that speaks to your project. Collaboration can be an exhausting undertaking, so choose reputable folks that will elevate your project. You can thank me later (I take donations [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°̲̅)̲̅$̲̅]).
Put simply: Take the necessary steps to market your work. You spent the time to create and publish this thing, now let people know!
Marketing a comic (in my experience) is one of the least fun bits of the process. But it’s necessary for pretty much anyone, aside from a select few with a built-in audience.
I’m not one of those people, and if you’re reading this, I’m assuming you probably aren’t either. That’s okay! It just means we’ve got to do the leg work.
Fortunately for us, there’s a plethora of ways to get it done. One of the easiest (and cheapest) is to use social media. Putting time into this aspect ahead of time is super beneficial. Having that reach at the (free) touch of a button is going to be a huge boon.
There’s also the not-so-free but probably worthwhile option of using a little capital to run ads. This can be great for someone who isn’t a social media guru or just doesn’t have that audience built up yet. It may cost money, but it can save time.
On that last one, try to think outside the box a bit. Use your money wisely. You don’t just have to run ads through ad platforms. For instance, a good way to market directly to your audience is to superchat on livestreams from streamers who cater to that very audience. They’ve got the eyes you want. Get to them!
There are many other ways of going about it. Don’t, for example, eschew the power of word-of-mouth. Regardless of the approach you take, marketing the project you’ve spent your time on is absolutely worth it, in my humble opinion.
Know What You Want to Do
Invest the Time
Hire An Editor
Choose the Right Team
Put on your entrepreneur hat when you go at this whole comic book thing. You’ll have to swap it with your artist hat, or writer hat, or… small woodland creature hat… or whatever. But keep some of these basic things in mind. Making a comic is no small undertaking. Make sure you have your head on straight and you do everything you can to make it the best book it can be. Your audience will thank you.
Love yewwwww… okay, not really, but I do think you’re all right. You’re okay. This got weird, bye.