How to Self Publish a Comic Book

Comic Book Self Publishing Tips

Attention, true believer! If you want to share your creativity with the world, this article will provide tips on how to self publish a comic book. Anyone can do it, but just be sure to temper your dreams of competing with Marvel and DC, as the world of self-published comic books can be both unforgiving and financially draining.

Know Your Audience

If you’re going to publish comic books, it helps to also read comic books. Otherwise, how will you know what your potential customers like? It can never hurt to read the works of comic book legends like Alan Moore and Frank Miller, and a quick consultation with the Internet or your local comics retailer can give you an idea of what’s currently popular.

Prep Work Is Important

Before you start on your self-published comic book, make sure that you know which direction you’re headed in. Make plenty of sketches, rework the script, and do anything else which will help you nail down your overall artistic vision. This will make things go much smoother when it’s finally time to illustrate the finished product.

Get Feedback

If you work up some practice comics before you do the real thing, you’ll have a chance to show them to family and friends and solicit feedback. Keep in mind, however, that people close to you will often give false praise in order to keep from hurting your feelings. If you know other people who make their own comics, they might serve as a more honest sounding board.

Make A Preview Comic Book

A preview comic, also known as an “ashcan,” is something you can take to conventions to show to industry professionals. An ashcan usually runs around eight pages, and you’ll want to get anywhere from 50 to 100 copies from your local printers.

You can then go to comic book conventions, show off your ashcan, and solicit opinions from industry insiders. When dealing with people in the business, always be polite and open to suggestions. Never become argumentative, as people will be less likely to help you if they think you’re a jerk.

Size Matters

When you’re finally ready to create your comic book, make sure that it adheres to industry standards in regard to size. The usual size is around 6 ¾” x 10.” Comic book shops have displays for certain size books, and anything outside the norm may not fit. This will not endear you to retailers, and they’re far less likely to buy your book.

Solicitation

If you want to sell your comic to a wide audience, your best bet is to find a distributor. In the comic book business, Diamond Comics Distributors stands above all others. They won’t just sell anyone’s work, however. In order to convince them to carry your product, you’ll need to go through the process of solicitation.

For Diamond to consider selling your comic, they’ll want to see at least two completed issues plus covers. They’ll also want the following information:

  1. The title of your book and the issue numbers.
  2. The credits (who did what on your book).
  3. Format – This will either be full color or black and white. Other formats include prestige, hard cover and trade paperback.
  4. Number of pages – Most comics average 32 pages, with a certain number designated for advertisements and such.
  5. Intended audience – Is your comic book appropriate for people of all ages, or will it be limited to a more mature audience?
  6. Cover price – Look at other self-published books for an idea on what to charge. Setting the price too high will drive away retailers and distributors.
  7. Country of origin
  8. What your book is about – Don’t be too long-winded. Try to boil down the essence of your comic into something that will take around 10 seconds to read.
  9. Issue summary – A brief overview of what the issues you are submitting are about.
  10. Shipping frequency – How often will your book be shipped? This can range from every month to twice a month to a few times a year. Be realistic. Nothing gets a comic book into trouble faster than not being able to ship on time.
  11. Recommended audience – Who will want to read your self-published comic book? Does it cater to fans of superheroes, zombies, etc.?
  12. Printer – Who will be printing your book? Some options include Quebecor, Morgan Printing, Brenner Printing and Quantum Color FX. Printing, by the way, will be the most expensive part of self-publishing your own comic book.
  13. Copyright information – When you create or publish a comic, it is generally assumed to be automatically copyrighted. The only way to sue for damages in court, however, is to have a federal trademark or federal copyright.

Be Professional

When getting your comic printed, make sure everything is typeset. Nothing says “amateur hour” like hand-written ads. When you’re creating your comic, it’s also wise to get the best possible talent to work on your book. If the quality is lacking, there’s a very good chance that Diamond won’t give you the time of day.

Don’t Expect Too Much

Most people who self-publish comic books never get rich. Your best hope is to create enough of a sensation that one of the big comic book companies brings you (and your characters) on board. Even then, you’ll have to cross your fingers and hope for lucrative licensing deals in order to make lots of money.

Of course, many self-publishers aren’t in it for the money. They simply view it as a way to express themselves artistically. As long as you don’t expect too much, your experience with self-publishing should be both challenging and rewarding.

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