Last weekend I had the utmost pleasure of attending Anime Boston. Now some of you may be saying “Wait, wait, anime? What does that have to do with self-publishing?” and the answer is quite a lot. If you’re on this blog you probably know authors self-publish fiction books and non-fiction books, but have you ever consider self-publishing comic books? I hadn’t until I met the wonderful Trevor A. Mueller. I happened to come across Trevor’s information the day before the convention as I was planning my weekend. As an author assistant and someone who loves comics when I saw his panel “Self-publishing 101” on the schedule it made it onto my must-do list.
When self-publishing first started there was a pretty big stigma, something we still sometimes see today, so I didn’t expect the room to be packed. Happily, I was very wrong. The room was standing room only and because of fire code some people were even turned away. Here’s a picture I nabbed at the panel. ->
Trevor was accompanied by author Krazy Krow (of Spinnerette fame) and both had a lot of great insight for budding writers and illustrators. Here are a few:
- Trevor has a background in advertising and stressed the importance of having funds for promotion as well as for production. Smart advice.
- Both authors have used Kickstarter to cash-inject projects they are working on. Both authors self-funded their starting projects and built up a readership before launching a Kickstarter campaign.
- Trevor prints his books with PrintNinja, Krazy Krow uses KrakenPrint (but has used and enjoyed PrintNinja). Both authors use offset printing in order to get better quality books and to cut back on costs, especially when it comes to color.
- When looking for an illustrator it is advised to offer a fair page rate. In order to get a quality artist expect to pay for their services as rendered and not after they have completed the entire comic (aka offering to pay them on the backend). I have found this to be true for any service in publishing.
I hope you enjoyed these insights into self-publishing comic books. If comics are your thing be sure to check out Trevor’s Albert the Alien and Krazy Krow’s Spinnerette.
I’m glad you found the panel to be helpful and insightful, Kate! Not only am I a comic book creator, but I’m also a fan. And I want to see the next generation of comic creators have an easier time making their books than I did. I had to figure everything out myself, and the way I make comics may not work for everyone – there’s no one right way to make comics. But if I can help by providing a starting point for young creators, then I think I’ve done something good in this life.
Go make comics!
Kate Tilton says
It was a great panel, thank you for sharing your insight on publishing and your love of comics. It was an amazing discovery for me to see authors publishing comic books, I just hadn’t thought of it before! Silly me.
I admire your drive to share your knowledge with others. It is an amazing thing in publishing and one of the reasons I love being a part of this community. Let’s create! 🙂
Lauren Woodley says
I definitely enjoyed reading through the insights you give about self-publishing comic books. Specifically, you talk about how when looking for an illustrator, it’s advised to offer a fair page rate, and I definitely agree. This way you will be able to bring in quality candidates for the job and ensure that the illustrations, regardless of who does them, get done well. Thank you for sharing!
Kate Tilton says
Thank you, Lauren. It was excellent advice from both these successful authors. By offering a fair page rate, I believe you increase the professionalism of the whole project and will likely end up with better results in the long run of your project.
I have self published collections of my comics for several years now. Developing a fan base is one of the most valuable things I have done. While my sales aren’t huge, my readers are really loyal. Maybe it is my subject matter and the fact that they are “kid friendly” while still having enough satirical bite for adults. Besides, who doesn’t love pandas?
I’ve now published 6 collections, plus a coloring book, which proved to be very popular this Christmas. I did a. Kickstarter for the first one, but mostly just promote the ones since then via my website and on Facebook and twitter. I’ve gone the POD route with CreateSpace rather than going for the higher quality (and inventory/ distribution challenges) with Print Ninja.
I am working on a graphic novel now, which I want to use color in, and am hoping not to self publish. If I do, I may do a Kickstarter to publish a print run with Print Ninja and then publish a POD version on CreateSpace.
There seems to be less of a self publishing stigma with comics than there does with other genres. Maybe because they are considered more niche publications than some other.
Thanks for this article.
Kate Tilton says
Building a fanbase is so important! It works best in the long-run for authors to build up their readership than focus on short term things like bestseller lists. And a panda comic sounds adorable!
When it comes to color graphic novels or comics it seems offset printing is the way to go (otherwise the cost per book would be so high people won’t purchase) but for black and white comics it seems either POD of offset printing works, so cheers for that! :). It’s similar to the hardcover/paperback with text-based books. Offset or POD works for paperback while hardcover should be done by offset printing because the cost is still too high with POD to make the books sellable. It’s super interesting stuff :).
Thanks for your thoughtful comment and good luck with your comics!
Thanks for that! Yes, I’ve looked at hardcover POD and the cost is prohibitive. I have a project I am working on and am looking into Inkshares, a crowd funding site for books. They are different than Kickstarter, in that they act as the publisher, rather than just leaving you on your own to sort things out. There is a minimum number of books that must be preordered before they will publish, and so in essence, you don’t get paid for that first 250-300 books. But, you would be spending that much money (and more) if you were going to do a print run.
Kate Tilton says
Yes, maybe in time as technology improves that will change, but for now it does have its limits. I’ve heard of Inkshare before, I’m curious to see how authors like it. If you try it out I’d love to hear all about it! 🙂