12 Jul How to Get Your Unpublished Comic Book Published
So you’ve created a comic or graphic novel. You’ve handed some copies to family and friends, and the feedback was fantastic. They’re urging you to get your comics out to a wider readership.
If you thought the sweat and blood you put into your comic book was the hard part, you’ve lots to learn! Let me break it down for you, without being demoralizing. Yes, be prepared to read some hard truths.
Finding a Publisher is Hard Work
How can an unknown and unpublished writer find a publisher? If you’re looking to publish and distribute with Marvel or DC, good luck. If you don’t know people who work there “respected artists, writers etc., – or have a very, very savvy agent” it’s impossible. It’s not enough to be a talented creative. You have to sell your work, and to the right people. You have to make publishers want to invest in your work. DC currently doesn’t want any work from people they don’t know.
Here’s the message from their submissions page:
“At this time, DC Entertainment does not accept unsolicited artwork or writing submissions”
[Source: DC Comics]
What DC does say instead is: attend Comic Cons. That’s where you’ll meet publishers, editors and other professionals in the industry, receive feedback and maybe come away with a deal or two. If you can afford it, of course.
Turn to Smaller Publishers
If it cannot be part of DC or Marvel, you can always turn to smaller publishers. There’s some advice on finding them here. Make sure they publish in your genre. Then pore through their submission guidelines. This is a MUST.
Here are some things you should keep in mind, to avoid being disappointed early on:
- If you’re a writer, it’s going to be harder to break into the industry. Try to team up with an artist. Though, there will be takers for good writing, publishers are more likely to give your writing a chance if it’s already been laid out in a sequential layout.
- Know your genre and the format for comics in the genre well. Find out from the publisher what they’re looking for. If it’s a graphics novel, prose or screenplay format is usually not acceptable.
- Create a website for your work. Describe your comic or graphic novel there, provide samples of your art, and also upload a PDF copy of your comic or the first five to ten pages at least. Make sure it is password protected. Share this link with publishing house agents when you send them a query about submissions. (Don’t forget to include the password!)
- Hope for the best. If there are six rejections, send to six other publishers.
Alternative: Start on the Web
Most newbies start small. They share their work on a website, on social media, in order to build up their reputation. There are no setup or printing costs involved. There are other advantages as well. Of course there’s nothing that beats a comic in print that you can hold, smell, and drool over.
But sometimes, you have no choice but to start by publishing on the web, on sites like:
When you’ve gained a large enough following, you can get your own website with a dot com after the name of your work! Get inspired by the creator of Lunarbaboon, who started out publishing on places like Webtoons.com, quickly got very popular, and now even gives interviews about his work!
Many comic creators also make some money from serialized installments of their popular web comics.
Sure, it’s easier to find readers for your comics today, given the Internet. But it’s also tougher to get published in print. As a struggling comic book artist who turned to self-publishing, I know exactly why it can be easier to self-publish, with the help of on-demand publishers.
What Usually Happens When You Self-Publish
You borrow some money from your uncle and the rest from your tax returns. Then you use the cash to print 3000 copies. Then you print ads and send out packets to major local presses. If you’re lucky, the media bites and your printed copies sell like hotcakes, like it did for the creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
If not, you add up the cost of printing and the table cost of displaying at conventions, and you barely manage to break even. Promoting and distributing your comics is really tough. There are a lot of distribution restrictions that will make it tough for you to get your books on the shelves. If the public can’t see it, how can they buy it?
That’s where crowdfunding can help. There are some fantastic comics that managed to raise thousands of dollars through crowdfunding. Maybe you can too!
Only, make sure that you follow standard comic book printing formats.