To self-publish or not to self-publish?

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I would prefer to self-publish my comic book Tonoharu, for reasons described previously. In fact, if I knew I was going to be in the United States for the next, oh, twelve months or so, I think I’d just bite the bullet and do it.

The thing is, if my bid for a Monbusho Scholarship is successful, I’ll be out of the country beginning in April of next year. Even if I put it on the fast track, I probably couldn’t have my comic printed up & ready to go until this November. This would only give me four or five months to sell them before I left. That’s just not enough time to do all the tasks associated with starting a new publishing business, like soliciting distributors, sending out review copies, and doing all the marketing (all while preparing to go to Japan, no less). Granted, thanks to the Internet I could do some of that stuff while abroad, but not all of it, and not while studying full time.

So in a nutshell, if I get the Monbusho Scholarship, I should probably give up on the idea of self-publishing (for now) and just solicit a regular publisher. If I don’t get the scholarship, self-publishing would be the way to go after all. So until I get a final answer regarding the Monbusho Scholarship, I can’t really make an informed decision one way or the other.

And therein lies the rub.

Somehow I got it into my head that I would find out about the Monbusho Scholarship as early as next month. I could have sworn I read something about “October” somewhere… But recently I checked into it again, and it appears that final notification probably won’t come until a matter of weeks before school starts in Japan. In other words, like five months from now.

Now, I understand that the Japanese Government has hundreds of applications to sift though, as well as budgets to sort out, negotiations with universities… I can see how it would take a while. And if February rolls around and they tell me I’m in, I’ll be overjoyed, and laugh about all the fretting I did about it now.

But on the other hand, if come February they say “Sorry, not interested”, then not only will I not be able to study in Japan, but I’ll’ve sat on Tonoharu for five months for nothing.

But there’s no helping it, I guess. Beggars can’t be choosers, as the saying goes, so I guess I’ll just have to wait it out…

(Actually, there’s another factor in play that will have a strong impact on whether I choose self-publish or not. That will, at least, definitely be sorted out next month. Check back next Friday for the deets.)

  • David Van Cleve

    “This would only give me four or five months to sell them before I left. That’s just not enough time to do all the tasks associated with starting a new publishing business, like soliciting distributors, sending out review copies . . . ”

    Assuming that you *do* get the scholarship, I would think -perhaps naiively- that you might find someone to accomplish some of these tasks for you? Finding the right person will be difficult of course, but I believe they’re out there.

    And while I don’t attend conventions anymore, perhaps you might want to bounce some ideas off of some of our (PG) old friends? Both Bruce Lewis and Robert De Jesus are published comic book artists and both have agents that help them with the sort of tasks you’ve enumerated. If you were to drop them an email with a rundown of your own situation I would think that they’d be happy to offer some advice to a fellow cartoonist. For Bruce, try [e-mail address withheld] (if this doesn’t work, Dan Baker should have it), and Bob can be contacted via his webpage http://studiocapsule.com/ and -yep- MySpace.

    As usual, good luck!

  • Lars Martinson

    Hey “David”,
    You’re right, it would still be doable, probably. I just think that since it would be my first big attempt at self-publishing, it’d be ideal to be in the US for at least a year after publication to oversee everything. Outsourcing would otherwise be an option of course, but that would slice the thin profit margins even thinner…
    But like I said, there’s another factor that will probably make the decision for me, which I’ll write about this Friday.
    Thanks for the contact info!
    –Lars