This is the fifth in a ten entry series of blog posts about my experiences self-publishing my first graphic novel, Tonoharu: Part One.
This guide is offered with no guarantees. I’ve done my best to provide accurate information, but I assume no responsibility for any negative consequences that result from following my advice. For other important disclaimers, please see the first entry in the series. Links to other installments in the series can be found on the bottom of this page.
Part Five: The Xeric Grant
If you’re thinking about self-publishing a comic book/graphic novel, you may already familiar with the Xeric Foundation, a non-profit organization that distributes grants to comic book self-publishers. If you’re not, please see this blog entry I wrote a while back, or better yet, visit the Xeric Foundation’s official website.
The Xeric Grant is great for a number of reasons. The most obvious being, it’s free money. You have to use Xeric funds for expenses directly related to the publication, marketing, and distribution of your comic (so you can’t use it to pay your rent or gambling debts), but other that that, it’s pretty much no strings attached. You never have to repay it, and you keep the copyright to your work. I probably already had you at “free money”, but to belabor the point, here are a couple other things that make applying for the Xeric Grant a good idea:
It’s prestigious. You’ll be able to say you’ve received a grant to publish your work, which will add an air of legitimacy to your self-publishing endeavor, making it easier to get press coverage, etc. People in the small press / alternative comics world know what the Xeric Grant is, and it’ll probably open a few doors for you there (not wide open, but a few doors that are open just a crack is better than nothing).
By applying for the Xeric Grant and receiving a “yay” or “nay” from them, you are in essence receiving free, unbiased feedback from an organization that intimately understands the world of comic book self-publishing. If the Xeric Foundation is unwilling to fund you, it might be a sign that your work isn’t quite ready for a serious self-publishing effort. After all, if you can’t secure the go-ahead from an organization that exists solely to give money away, what are the odds you’ll be able to convince for-profit organizations like distributors or booksellers to work with you?
So even if you can afford to go it alone, I would strongly recommend applying for financial assistance from the Xeric Foundation to anyone from self-publishing their first graphic novel.
Applying for the Xeric Grant
First and foremost, I should mention that I am not a spokesperson for the Xeric Foundation, so my thoughts on what they may or may not be looking for in an application are by-and-large speculative. Granted, that speculation was the basis for my approach to the application which ultimately netted me a $10,000 grant, but since the following isn’t coming from the horse’s mouth, you should take all of it with a grain of salt.
As I was filling out the application, I tried to put myself in the application reviewer’s shoes. Make it clear to them that you take the whole thing seriously. Fill out forms completely, follow all the instructions to the letter, and present everything in a neat, professional manner.
The mock-up of my graphic novel was the most important aspect of my application of course, but in addition to that I tried to convey that I was someone who had a firm plan in place for how I would use the grant money, and that I would require little or no handholding. I was as specific as possible about my projected expenses, and how I would print, promote, and distribute my book.
I think the weakest part of my application was that I was very unclear about how much my book would cost to print up. At that point I hadn’t yet contacted any book printers yet, so I provided a very wide “guesstimate” of what I expected the book to cost. Luckily I got the grant anyway, but I think it would be a good idea to get quotes for book printers ahead of time, and submit the winning quote as part of your application. Not only would this help you determine how much money to ask the Xeric Foundation for, but it would also demonstrate to them that you’re ready to hit the ground running. My thoughts on dealing with book printers will be the subject of the next week’s entry.
The most current set of application guidelines for the Xeric Grant can be found here.
I had also intended to post my Xeric application as a part of this blog entry (for informational purposes), but for the life of me I can’t find the Word documents for that… Should I be able to track them down, I’ll update this entry later on and put a link to my application here.
Next week entry will be about dealing with book printers. Ta.
How I Self-Published a Graphic Novel
1/10 – Introductions / Disclaimers
2/10 – Honing Your Craft / Creating Your Comic
3/10 – Research, Research, Research
4/10 – Savings & Money Management
5/10 – The Xeric Grant
6/10 – Preparing for Press
7/10 – Working with Book Printers
8/10 – Distribution
9/10 – Marketing
10/10 – The Long Haul / Conclusion