Comic books represent a huge part of our modern mythology. We all know characters like Spiderman, Batman or Wonder Woman who dominate comic book culture and their adventures have become a phenomenon among the comic book fans.
There are a lot of reasons why you should self-publish a comic book. It will rarely happen that the major publishers such as Valiant, DC or Marvel hire a writer off the street, so self-publishing comics have been popular and changing an aging industry. However, thinking that self-publishing is here to put large publishers out of business is wrong. You’re also mistaken if you believe that self-published comics are something new, booming onto the scene in just the past few years. What’s changed is the barrier of entry and just how many people have access to the tools they need to publish their own stories and have a 100% control on every process.
How to gain awareness by self-publishing your own comic book?
Be unique! Big publishers only go with what’s proven and safe; they won’t risk something brand new. However, self-publishing gives you an opportunity to be creative, and it allows you to work freely without any pressure. You can be experimental and prove that readers can appreciate something new other than reading the same story. Another interesting thing is that more and more comics are being published digitally nowadays which is a great way for self-publishers to put their work out there. You can try Amazon’s Kindle Comic Creator, which is an app that everyone can download and publish their own comics for Kindle devices.
Things to do before self-publishing a comic book
When writing a comic book, you need to know who’s going to buy your book. If you’re selling comics you need to be online and on social media since it’s all about the visuals. Start with Twitter, which is the best place for individual artists to connect with other artists and you can get extra exposure by participating in Sketch Dailies or Inktober. Besides Twitter, you can exploit all the social media arsenal to connect with your target audience. Use Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram and make sure to post panels, visuals as teasers. You need to gain a fanbase, so even posting entire comics for free online and then later publishing it for a profit can be a good strategy. After gaining a following of devoted fans, it’ll be easier to make money from your work.
Another way to gain online presence is to create a website which is cheap and super easy. Once you get it up and running, you need to focus on maintaining and updating. You can also create a blog and write entries that focus on the subject matter of your work and write posts that might intrigue readers and media people to find out more about you and your comic book. But remember, using social media one of the most important thing is to be consistent. Set up a routine and decide how many times per week you post, on which days and hold by to it.
It takes the time to build a community, but if you’re patient and consistent, you’ll get there.
If you decide to self-publish a comic book, you need to pay attention to choose the right book size. The size of your book is determined by your approach to page layout as well as economic reasons. If you choose a non-standard size, your work can stand out but also it may be more costly. The common sizes today are 5,5 x 8,5 or 8,5 x 11 with no-defacto standard.
There are two categories of digital comics: the ones without digital rights management (DRM) and the ones protected with DRM. Comic files protected with DRM can come in various formats, where the most popular is those delivered by Comixology. The service is allowing readers to read the comics they purchase, however they don’t own them. On the other hand, comic files not DRM protected are the traditional files such as PDF or EPUB formats or the popular CBR and CBZ comic book formats which can be viewed by a variety of readers.
How to gain experience and awareness in the comic book industry with your work?
Write as much as you can. The more content you have, the easier to gain awareness and get reviews from industry professionals, readers. Another thing you can do is to visit events where you can spread the word about your book. Events are also perfect for networking and self-promotion. Comic book conventions are the best places to exchange ideas, meet new artists and keep in touch with people. ZineFest is an annual global celebration of zines, comics, and self-publishing as well as a series of talks, events, and workshops. ZineFest brings together makers of zines and comics to display and sell their work.
Distribution and networking
There are quite a few distribution channels you can choose to go with your comics as a self-published author. Many authors choose digital platforms such as Gumroad and Comixology or decide to sell their print copies at conventions or in comic shops and bookstores. However, getting into stores is a huge challenge, unless authors submit their books to Diamond Comic Distributors, the only nationwide distribution platform that exists in the comic book world, and make the cut. It is not easy to get in, as Diamond pays too little attention to indie works. And they take 60% cut of the money your book makes. In comparison, you can decide to put your book up to Kickstarter which only takes 5% cut.
Remember, you’re selling to readers instead of stores, and as an indie creator, you can see if there’s a demand from the people who are going to read it.
As a comic book creator, you need to be part of a community to get support from each other. Every opportunity you have to show your work, meet people who could become fans, friends and even business collaborators, you have to take advantage of and think of it as a business investment for your book.