Thursday, October 8, 2015

Self Publishing Your Independent Comic Book - Part 1

I decided to blow the dust off the ol' blog and write a few in-depth updates. Not updates, really, but more of a "how to" kind of thing. As someone who has been self publishing for awhile now, I've kind of figured out what and what not to do, and I thought maybe some of my experience might be helpful for someone else. So what I'm gonna do is a series of posts detailing my adventures in self publishing, such as they are, in the off chance that anybody new to the experience might be able to glean some small bit of wisdom from what I've gone through. (I hope to update every Friday but to be completely honest, that'll depend on my workload.)

Before I dive in, a caveat: all of this, unless otherwise noted, is my personal experience. From doing this for a few years now, I've learned that if you ask a hundred different people for their story as regards self publishing, you'll get a hundred different, wildly-varying tales. So what applies to me, a white guy in his mid-30s with a college degree, a wife, and a mortgage (but no kids), might not apply to you. I started this process 4 years ago and am preparing to relaunch my book, so I think I have some insight on self publishing from the standpoint of the average no-name uncool indie cartoonist.

This is a high level overview of self publishing. In my experience, the path sort of goes like this:

IDEA: Self explanatory. You have an idea. The easy part. Ideas are a dime a dozen.
PRODUCTION: Writing the script, doing the art (or having it drawn), lettering, all that stuff. Still easy. It can get expensive, if you're not drawing the book yourself, but there's a saying: if the problem can be fixed with money, it isn't really a problem. Raising the money might be tough but there are ways around that, if you're really serious about producing the comic book.
PUBLISHING: Basically, the printing of physical copies of your comic book. Digital distribution is a thing now but the vast majority of comics are still sold the old fashioned way: floppy magazines. We aren't talking about submitting to publishers; that would not be self publishing (obviously).
SELLING: ...The tough part. How do you sell the book? If you ran a Kickstarter, once the book is in the hands of the backers, how do you get it beyond that audience? Selling has two parts, near as I can tell:

...Those last two are the toughest nuts of all to crack. Even distribution isn't impossible; if you can get Diamond to carry the book - and if it's of professional quality, they'll probably at least take a chance on it - distribution isn't so tough. Marketing is, though. It's hard to figure out, and it's EXPENSIVE. There's a reason major movie studios spend half of whatever they spent on producing the movie to market it.

So this is just part one of this how-to guide, which isn't really how to self publish so much as it is how I went about it. I won't really be covering the idea part, because who's qualified to tell you whether your idea is good or not? Next week I'll talk about production of the actual comic - everything that happens before the book is printed.

Hope to see you then!

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