How I Self-Published a Graphic Novel (6/10)


This is the sixth in a ten entry series of blog posts about my experiences self-publishing my first graphic novel, Tonoharu: Part One. I’m writing this informal “how-to” guide in the hopes that my limited experience might be of some value to aspiring comic book self-publishers.

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 Six: Preparing for Press
Hiring Help, or Not
As you begin preparations for press, you have to decide if you’re going to go it alone, or if you’re going to hire outside help in the form of graphic designers or pre-press specialists.

Personally, I went it alone. There were some hiccups along the way, but all-in-all I’m glad to have gone through it, and learned a lot of valuable lessons that I can use to improve the appearance of future books while keeping costs in check.

What’s right for you will depend on your background and circumstances. Generally speaking, I would say if you think you’ll only be doing one book, it’d probably be best to hire people to do all the prepress work for you. If you think/hope to be creating comics for the long haul, it would probably pay to bite the bullet and learn how to do it yourself.

One note though: the cover of your book should look spectacular; don’t skimp here. If you’re unable to design a professional-looking cover on your own, hire a graphic designer to do it for you. I designed my own cover so I don’t have any advice about hiring outside help, but The Self-Publishing Manual has recommendations.

(Even More) Research
In the third entry in this series, I recommended books to read. Around the time you’re thinking about contacting book printers, you should revisit those books to refresh your memory.

And in addition to those, here are two additional resources I recommend reading:

The Self-Publishing Manual Special Report: Buying Book Printing (PDF File)
When I wrote about The Self-Publishing Manual previously, one of my rare complaints about the book is that it often sends you to the publisher’s website to download “online PDF reports” instead of just including that information in the book itself. While some of these online reports are free, others have a hefty fee attached to them.

The defining example is this PDF report. It’s $19.95 for a 28 page electronic file. The actual Self-Publishing Manual itself is 463 pages long, and costs the same (less actually, if you get it for less than cover price). Factor in the fact that the PDF report is distributed digitally and therefore has no real production costs, and there’s no getting around that it’s ridiculously overpriced.

All that said, if you’ve reached the point where you’re sure you’re going to self-publish, you should get it anyway. By following the advice in this PDF file, I paid thousands of dollars less than if I had tried to do it on my own, and was able to spend much less time doing research. Swallow your pride and pay the inflated price. [Link to report]

Getting it Printed, 4th Edition by Eric Kenly

Other than Bookmaking by Marshall Lee, this is the book I found most useful in terms of helping me to understand what to expect in terms of preparing for press and working with book printers.

Once you’ve done all that research, it’s time to start contacting book printers. That will be the subject of next week’s entry.


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

Complete List of Recommended Self-Publishing Books / Resources

  • vogdoid

    the next “Rock the Bunny” should have a whole page of 1-2 panel comix that revolve around ninja turtles giving you money.

  • Lars Martinson

    Every now and again, I think about the next “Rock the Bunny”. In my mind I imagine a definitive, hardcover edition, including (but not strictly limited to) the gag comix that were the staples of the original volumes.

    In addition to comix, I’d like to put in things like the “Ultimate Destruction” origin story (with photos and illustrations accompanying). I’d also like to include things that suggest a print equivalent of T&E ASGJ! (What form those pages would take, I’m not yet sure.)

    The next RTB won’t see the light of day for literally years, but I do hope to do it, someday…

    In unrelated news, I may have the opportunity to study Buddhist painting under the tutelage of the head monk of temple #4 of the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage. Cool huh!

  • Mom

    Sounds great! When will it happen?