So I published my own comic last year, and but I’ll spare you the heavy handed sales pitch, and instead offer free advice for anyone who wants to publish their own comic, either online as a web comic or via comixology.
1: Get formal training.
So this step isn’t really as important as the others, mostly because like any skill, you can self teach yourself. But for my part, it was money well spent, as you can probably tell. There are many courses you can take, but for me I went with Andy Schmidt’s comic experience. Andy is a former editor at Marvel and IDW comics so he does know he way around a comic. It’s online, which is how a bloke from Australia was able to take it and you get access to the workshop, a forum where you can post scripts and get feedback from fellow writers.
2: It costs a lot of money.
So the worst thing about starting out in comics is that there is very little money to be made if you self publish but I’ll come back to this later. The reason why it costs money is that there are numerous costs involved, from the artist if you can’t do the artwork yourself. Colourists if you want your comic coloured, letterers and cover artists. Again, you can learn to do this yourself, and there many programs out there that can help you learn. Most artists are also starting out or at least semi pro and their services can be pretty cheap. The awesome Shawn Decker did my comic for $50 a page, which was well worth it. A letterer guy I know did the lettering for $10 a page, and if your comic is 20 pages, well you can do the math. If you have the time, you can learn these skills yourself and cut the costs down a little bit.
3: Your reputation matters.
When your paying some one for services rendered, it helps to have the money ready to go when they are done. Paying for art work is no different. Now, I know it seems scary, having to fork over a thousand dollars for artwork (or there about depending on page rate) but most artists often allow you to pay in instalments. In fact, out of all the artists I have worked with, I’ve used a contract which stipulates installments. If you don’t pay promptly, this effects your reputation. I had an artist I worked with ask if I still needed an artist for a project, because of my reputation. I also have an artist I am currently working with now that while fantastic, is one I may not be using again. Being professional helps, and may even lead to repeat work. But people generally remember the bad more then the good.
2: Expect long waits.
Everything takes time, from writing your script, to finding your team to work with, to getting the money together to fund the whole operation and it doesn’t stop there. The artwork can take a long time, depending on what the artist has going on in their life. They have their own life outside of the project, and unexpected things can happen, family holidays for example. Remember this is a hobby they’re trying to make money off. Giving them a super narrow time frame doesn’t help, but that said, you are paying them for a job so if they are dragging their heels, you are allowed to be angry. And you can’t really move on until each part of the project is finished. Then you’re waiting for the letterer, then the cover artist. Finally you’re ready to submit to comixiology if you want, where you can wait up to five months.
1: It’s totally worth it.
Look, even though I’m out of pocket by a lot of money, and they only way I’ll get it back is if over three thousand people decide to download it and give it a read, and they way the payout structure is at comixology, I’ll only see any money if I earn over a certain amount which wont be happening any time soon. But at the very least I’ve accomplished some thing. Not many people can say that they’ve self published their own book, and because I want to break into the comic industry at some point, it does help to have at least some thing on the market that you can point to and say “Hey I did this”. I’d do it all again as well, because why not? Nothing happens over night and so if I do want to be a comic writer, I need to have examples of my work, and not just half finished scripts laying around.
And because I have no shame please buy my book!