As previously mentioned, I am in the midst of a prolonged attempt to see if I can’t eke out a living by drawing comic books.
For most jobs distinguished enough to be called “professions”, one can at least expect to earn a living wage. Not so with cartooning. Many of the very best (non-mainstream) cartoonists have to supplement their income with side-jobs. Others live in abject poverty. Only a very talented and lucky few are able to make a comfortable living at it free and clear.
With profit margins so thin, the successful cartoonist has to wear many hats. In addition to the actual creation of comics, they have to intimately involved with the business side of their profession as well: accounting, book prepress and production, distribution, marketing, promotion… Outsourcing usually isn’t economically feasible for the cartoonist who hopes to make a living off of their work (particularly to those just starting out), so they’re often forced to muddle through these tasks as best they can, with little or no outside help.
So I figure if I really want to make a go at being a cartoonist, I shouldn’t shirk away from doing these things; I should dive in headfirst and familiarize myself with every aspect of the creation, publication, and distribution of my comic books. I’d hate to ultimately fail at it and wonder if only I’d been willing to muddle through tax forms that I might have been financially efficient enough to pull it off. Plus if I’m ever lucky enough to make enough money to farm out work, I’d know firsthand what I do and don’t mind doing.
It’s for these reasons that I’m seriously considering self-publishing. I think that self-publishing is often seen as an option that’s undertaken only as a last resort; the road you go down only if you absolutely can’t get a publisher to work with you. This is how I used to view it as well, but since then I’ve done some research that’s made me question some of those assumptions. I think it can actually be the best way to go, even if publishing through a “real” publisher is an option.
I have more to say on the subject, but I’ll cover that some other time. Next week’s entry will introduce the comic book I’m currently working on.