Everything You Need to Know About Self-Publishing Comics

Thinking about self-publishing your own comics? It's never been easier...

Ramona Tanay |

Comic books represent a huge part of our modern pop culture. We all know characters like Spiderman, Batman or Wonder Woman who dominate comic book culture. Their adventures have become a phenomenon among comic book fans.

There are a lot of reasons why you should self-publish a comic book. Self-published comics have been around for a while. 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 100% control over both the publishing and creative process.

So here’s what you need to know about self-publishing a comic.

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. You should definitely be online and on social media. 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, use Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram and post about your work as teasers. To gain a fan base, posting an entire comic for free online and then later publishing it for a profit can be a good strategy.

Another way to gain an online presence is to create a website that is cheap and super easy. You can also create a blog and write entries that focus on the subject matter of your work or posts that might intrigue readers and media people to find out more about you and your comic book.

One of the most important to remember with social media 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.

You also need to pay attention to choosing 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. This service allows readers to read the comics they purchase but not own them. On the other hand, comic files not DRM protected are PDF or EPUB formats or the popular CBR and CBZ comic book formats that can be viewed by a variety of readers.

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How to gain experience and awareness in the comic book industry with your work?

Create a comic as much as you can. The more content you have, the easier it is to gain awareness and get reviews from industry professionals and readers. Another thing you can do is visiting 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.

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Distribution and networking

There are quite a few distribution channels you can choose as a self-published comics 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. It’s not easy to get in, as Diamond pays too little attention to indie works. And they also take a 60% cut of the money your book makes. In comparison, you can decide to put your book up to Kickstarter which only takes a 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.

And on a last note, don’t forget to be part of a community. Take advantage of every opportunity to show your work, meet people who could become fans, friends and even business collaborators.