has a different reason why they want to self publish comics. Mine began
in a serious way when I unexpectedly found myself laid off my job for
a year - I work as a freelancer in animation, which is as fickle an
industry as comics, and I spent a lot of time debating which direction
I should focus on I guess fate said "Comics" loud and clear.
With little to no interest in most mainstream comics, I never considered
competing for a place in line to draw Batman. I needed to be able to
write, draw and print whatever I wanted without anyone's approval. Self-publishing
seemed the most logical route.
I spent a lot of time doing research as I was developing the story --
what printer to use, how much will it cost, how do distributors work,
etc. I found Cerebus Guide to Self Publishing by accident and read it
through about 10 times. As far as I'm concerned, this is essential reading
material to the would-be-small-press-publisher.
I began Chiaroscuro in September 2000. I failed at my first attempt
at the Xeric grant, and rightfully so - I had only 16 pages finished!
Undaunted, I continued to work on the first issue, finished, and went
on to the next. Chiaroscuro hit the shelves almost exactly one year
from when I started it, and it was on my second attempt, then halfway
through the second issue, that I was awarded the Xeric grant.
I could kiss Peter Laird for this, his respect for his humble beginnings
and the founding of this grant made it possible for me to continue publishing
and to promote my book in ways that would have been near impossible
without it. Being associated as a Xeric grant recipient alone has been
a tremendous help in drawing attention to my book.
Over the last year, I found that one of the greatest promotional tools
for the small press publisher is the Internet. I started out by hyping
my book on comic message boards, but it was quickly made apparent that
people don't want to buy what they can't see. So I built a crude web
site where I could display sample artwork and keep in touch with readers.
The site has served me well; I get orders every week for back issues
from people who just discovered the book.
Other than the Internet, my advice for promoting your book would be
to start an e-mail newsletter, attend the small trade shows, get your
books in the hands of online reviewers, answer your e-mails promptly,
don't solicit your book until it's finished, deliver on time, and most
of all, produce the best damn book you can.
Keep in mind that, like any business, you stand to lose money for the
first five years. Understand that this commitment to story telling is
going to take up your spare time and cash with no promises or guarantees.
But really, If you love what you're doing than none of that matters
very much, you just keep on doing it one way or another.
This December heralds the fifth issue of my comic, with issue six in
the wings. So far so good.