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Psycho Bunny Studio
Well, Iron and I, I believe, are the only one's on here who have self published. Iron has had a better time of it than I have, so I guess I serve as more of a warning while she serves as a success story.


And me. Although I've also other-published. If that's a word.

Anyway. Should you be picky with publishers: yes. You should try to find a publisher that puts out exactly the same kind of stuff as what you want to do, or, not exactly the same because then you're just a copycat, but similar in audience, genre, style. So the publishers can go: hey, if you liked this, you'll like that, too.

Otherwise, you're unlikely to succeed and you'll just be wasting your time and theirs.

Second point, if you're crap at marketing, find something else to do with your life. You'll be promoting yourself regardless of whether you take on publishing responsibilities or leave them to someone else.
Thanks for all the replies ♥

@ Psycho Bunny Studios
Thanks for taking the time for writing out such a detailed reply. I went out a checked a few local printers this morning, and found that their prices were rather affordable, and I don't have to blow huge amounts of money on huge bulk orders that I had been finding via google.
After all the drama I had read about Tokyopop and their crap contracts, when I was looking over publishers websites, the first thing I did was check their creditability, and then the contract, if it was nicely available.
It may seem a bit weird to getting all this information when the project is far from being finished to my satisfaction, but Im the type of person who wants to know about all routes and get a plan produced before the time comes.

@ KayJKay
I dont blame you for that. This forum does get a bunch of people who seem interested enough with no follow-through, or just a bunch of weeboo wannabe manga-kas who believe they are going to grow up and make it big in Japan.
Thanks for the advice.

@Mighty Smurgleburf
I would like to believe that my marketing skills are fairly good, and I'd like to be a bit more involved then just throwing it all at them to do everything for me. I'll try to work on a few smaller projects to get my resume up to par.
Thanks for the advice.
PS, lovely signature art.

@Williehewes
Oh geez, I have no idea on how exactly your post somehow got above mine. Glitch much o-o
Or maybe thats just me that sees it, but anyways.
Yeah, my friend had the same reaction when she saw one of the publishers that I was putting on a maybe list. It was a publisher that houses Hell Boy, Star Wars: the clone wars, ect. My current project has nothing to do remotely with any of that.
Thanks for the advice.
Huh, WTH? How did I become the top post for this topic?!

Geez, sorry, that's kinda rude. lol
WTH is up with the post order?

Stupidz gaia...
One nitpick: I self-publish as a professional. Self-publishing doesn't automatically necessitate a lack of professionalism, but I'll get into that later.

Self-Publishing.

The Pros.

- You keep all the money. Every dime that comes in the door, after bills, is yours to keep.

- Full creative and editorial control. No worries about weaselly contracts, advances being called back, and a company losing interest in you when the editor who championed you retires or leaves the organization.

- Business savvy crash course. You'll learn how to write contracts, lay out a book in InDesign, request quotes from printers, promote yourself with press releases and media kits, sell, submit to distributors, and everything else that leads to business self-sufficiency.

- Street cred. It's the quickest way to be published, and an unpublished cartoonist might as well not exist, professionally speaking.


The Cons.

- Not being taken seriously. No matter how big a deal you become, no matter how much you make, no matter how many stores your work is in, there will always be a share of your potential audience convinced you're self-publishing because no "real publisher" would have you, and therefore refuse to give your work a chance, content to assume it's crap.

- Not as large a potential audience. 1500-1700 books a year is a good estimate of my sales. Pretty good for a self-published artist, but barely a drop in the bucket, in literary terms; a NYT bestseller sells in the tens of thousands. If raw numbers are what you want, self-publishing won't satisfy you. (Be warned, though, raw numbers don't mean more money.)

Using a Publisher.

The Pros.

- Legitimacy. Those people who wrote you off for self-publishing will give you a chance, now. Also, friends and family will be a lot more likely to consider you a "real" cartoonist. if that matters to you, being represented by a publisher makes it more likely.

- Industry access. Some publishers, if not all, will provide their creators with table space at most relevant conventions. The larger ones even pay for some of their talent to fly out to the big cons, like SDCC, and foot the hotel bills. (But this is big name talent stuff only.) Being published by a reputable company will also get you face time with other creators, editors and publishers.

- Greater potential for "stardom." Most people in comics will not become superstars, and even comic industry mega-pros, like Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis, rank as C-list in the grand scheme of celebrity. But mobility into screenwriting, million-book sales, and general Hollywood-ness is a lot more likely with publisher representation. The comic book industry regularly loses talent to Hollywood, like Rob Schrab, Ben Edlund, Dan Clowes and Frank Miller. If you consider comics a stepping stone and not a place to settle down, find someone else to publish you.

The Cons.

- Serious pay discrepancy. I did a little math, once. If I had published my comic through a separate party instead of doing it myself, I would take a 62% pay cut.

There's a tipping point where you begin to make MORE with publishers than you would on your own, but frankly, most people doing independent, non-mainstream work are unlikely to ever reach it.

- Loss of control to varying degrees. Some companies just ask for publishing rights for the first edition of your comic. Some companies will rape your face, given half the chance. Learn to read contracts.

- Business practice obliviousness. There are people who have been in comics for decades, and still wouldn't know what to do if Marvel or DC suddenly lost interest in them. They don't own their own work, and never have; they can't republish their stuff in retrospectives, because they haven't got the rights and wouldn't know how. If you ever feel like weeping openly, head to the SDCC Artists Alley, and look for the elderly men. There are usually one or two who spent their lives working for DC or Marvel, and now do $30.00 sketches of Wolverine or Green Lantern to help pay their nursing home bills. I don't ever want to be in that position.

In the end, it's up to you.

If you're one of those "I just want to DRAW, though!" types, want to be the next comic superstar, Don't care to work on original stuff, grew up dreaming of penciling Batman, need structure, etc., find a publisher. If you're a control freak with an original story to tell, not afraid of spreadsheets, wiling to work hard as hell for limited recognition, etc., do it on your own.
This actually isn't true. Especially for comics, self-publishing has always been seen as a good way to get your foot in the door and show that you have the work-ethic to finish a project. No one is going to be impressed by your print-on-demand project, but if you have the ability to finish a book and enough resources to actually do a print run of it, that's considered a valuable skill.

One thing that IronSpike didn't mention is that when you've been picked up by a major publisher, they have the resources and money to market you but they rarely will. You end up having to sell yourself anyway, most of the time. They want you to turn a profit, sure, but to do that they need to spend as little money on you as possible and now that it's easier to market yourself, they're going to expect you to do that. Now more than ever, you need to know how to sell yourself to make money in comics.
Webcomics Weekly does a great podcast and touches on this very subject quite a number of times. I highly suggest listening to a few of the shows when you have the time, these guys know what they are talking about.

I have also published comics via the print-on-demand venue. Though IronSpike I think put the pros and cons best. Personally, I would never go with a publisher, maintaining the copyright to my comics is important to me.
When I get around to finishing my current graphic novel (Forgive the Sinner), I've been thinking lots lately about attempting to publish it.

My first idea; self-publish. It would be done the way I wanted, although all the risk would be mine, and the reward of there is any. I also looked into some quotes on a 200 page book, just a normal text book, not a graphic book, and found the cost if I wanted a glossy cover and traditional binding, is just out of my range at the moment... But then the saying, 'You have to spend money to make money' wandered into my mind. Thoughts and/or experiences on self publishing?

My second idea; find a publisher. I googled a few publishers, and looked through their business searcher ma-bob. After looking through about 20 or so, I only found a few that I liked. Is there a point where I need lower my standards of what to look for in a publisher, or keep my high standards to prevent being burnt in the end? Thoughts and/or experiences on professional publishing?

Just my two cents. Any and all help is appreciated.
And for the record, no, I dont plan on moving to Japan and becoming a sou-kawaii kanga-ka. I just want to publish a graphic novel, here in North America.
If you want to refer me to a few publishers, that'd be great as well! Just a link and some basic info will do, I dont need the whole nine yards.
Well, Iron and I, I believe, are the only one's on here who have self published. Iron has had a better time of it than I have, so I guess I serve as more of a warning while she serves as a success story.

There are pro's and con's to both self publishing and going through a company.

A pro is that you do have full control on your product, you get all the profit if there is any, you can sell to whom you want and all that jazz.

The downside is because you have full control, you're going to need to do all the work on selling and the like yourself. Unless you have a fan base already, or a good marketing plan and promotion package and the like you're not going to sell much. Which can be quite discouraging, (my first two comics were total flops because I have crap marketing skills. craaaapppp) It can take a lot of time and a lot of effort and most importantly, a lot of money sometimes.

Fortunately there are a lot more print on demand companies out there now then there was 6 years ago when I first started printing. So prices can be actually quite reasonable (so long as you don't jump the gun and make sure you actually have pre-orders)

The pro of going through a company is you don't have to deal with a lot of that crap. You sign a contract, produce your pages, send them in and then get a paycheque in the mail for your work like any other job (plus one would assume residuals)

Downside is that most *coughallcough* companies you're going through are going to try to hoze you as much as they can *cough... oh who am I kidding TOKYOPOP* They'll lace the contract with s**t deals, try to take away your copyright over the product, give you the run around and try to essentially bleed you dry for all the money your worth and leave you with nothing to your name if they can get away with it. PLUS that's only if they'll take you. You also have to do a ROYAL song and dance for these guys begging them to accept you at all before you can watch them like a snake in the grass that you've begged to sit with you.

All depends on what you want, but until your product is finished I wouldn't worry about it. I mean first you need a product, then you need to advertise it and garner a fanbase then you need to get your pre-orders and then you can think about selling it.
Personally, I never refer anyone to a publisher until I've seen their work. The vast majority of folks that ask for that information here on Gaia aren't ready for publishers. I may suggest this route.

Self publish first, then go 'professional' as you see it. It allows you the freedom and control of your product at first until you want to hand some of the reigns over.
As mentioned above, there are pros and cons, but I'd personally go through a traditional publisher. If you're bad at marketing, they'll do that for you. Maybe try to get some smaller things published before you tackle a bigger project, though.

Because you can't put a self-published work on your resume to a traditional publisher. They won't be impressed by it.
After seeing three very talented friends lose the rights to stories and characters they alone developed... my default setting is 'assume publishers will ******** you with a sandpaper bat given half the chance.'

If you do try to sell your work to a publisher, get an attorney who specializes in entertainment law to look over any contracts or other paperwork they send your way.
WillieHewes
Psycho Bunny Studio
Well, Iron and I, I believe, are the only one's on here who have self published. Iron has had a better time of it than I have, so I guess I serve as more of a warning while she serves as a success story.


And me. Although I've also other-published. If that's a word.

Anyway. Should you be picky with publishers: yes. You should try to find a publisher that puts out exactly the same kind of stuff as what you want to do, or, not exactly the same because then you're just a copycat, but similar in audience, genre, style. So the publishers can go: hey, if you liked this, you'll like that, too.

Otherwise, you're unlikely to succeed and you'll just be wasting your time and theirs.

Second point, if you're crap at marketing, find something else to do with your life. You'll be promoting yourself regardless of whether you take on publishing responsibilities or leave them to someone else.


Oh right heart

You're just sporattically on all the time I never know if I should mention you.

Frankly I always say self publish or at least try, it gives you a good hard serious look at the industry plus it makes you even more picky of your own work since you are investing now a buttload of time and money in it, it saves you from being shafted by the industry later because you got yourself blacklisted by sending them doodles of your TOTALL AWESUM SUPRHERO!!1! when you don't have enough to reasonably back that up with.

EDIT: and awww I'm crap at marketing...

I'm great at schmoosing, buttering people up and all that, craaappp at figuring out how to market myself sometimes. Although I have a good idea of it I always spend too much money on the product and then have nothing left over to advertise for it.

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