If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
To find a publisher, find comics that are similar to yours. Fantagraphics really publishes anything they like. I think Kim mentioned a few times that they are not taking many new projects on now because they are booked up with the reprints of classic comics. Image is basically on a model of you finance. You don’t earn any money from the books until Image has earned back the cost of printing and a little extra. It sounds like a fair model. At the after party, I asked why this was worth it and it seems to be mostly about branding and distribution – Image will distribute your book through Diamond to comic stores everywhere and then you have that I on the spine that is a signal of quality.
Megan recommended self-publishing. Many people start with self-publishing and as it becomes popular a publishing house might pick it up. In the world of comics, as opposed to prose, self-publishing is highly respected. As a side note, you might want to check out this great blog post by Faith Erin Hicks about her experiences publishing.
Mark said to go to conventions in your genre – not just comic conventions. His examples were the horror conventions in the Seattle area (there are no less than three in a year). In the convention vein, Matt suggested you make ashcan copies and give out tons of them. Megan agreed (that is how she got started, I think).
Emi said the web was vital for her (what with being a web comic and all). She says it is not necessary to hide your work – Show it! If you can get a response, people will want more. Comic fans like to hold their comics in their hands so web comics are a good starting place to gain followers. Use Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook to get your comics out there. In a later question someone asked how she gets people to buy the book, if she holds half back or makes everything available. Emi makes everything available, though just by chance people who buy her second book will get to read comics before they are put on the web.
Great question – promoting on the web. Matt actually recommended reading the Fantagraphics blog. He also said go to conventions, read and comment on comics blogs. He compared commenting on a comic blog or news site to a global comics bar. Megan pointed out that the world of comics isn’t really that big. If your participate, people will start to recognize your name. Mark said to be a social butterfly. He has a Facebook page for every comic. You have to constantly put yourself out there.
Emi recommended putting your images on Tumblr. You can connect it to your Facebook page and Twitter so everyone will get an announcement when you post a new image. She was surprised how many followers she got just through Instagram. You sell yourself through your images. When her first book came out, she emailed over 200 comic shops with a link to a PDF copy of her book to read for free so they could decide whether they wanted to sell it in their shop. She also said to hand out postcard of your art at conventions for free to every single person you see.
Brandon brought up that, when getting press, you must remember that you may be addressing non-comic folk.
Another question was about failures that they would recommend avoiding. Megan said if you have spent lots of time on a project, don’t quit. If you get bogged down, put it away for a little or for even a year or more and come back to it so you can find the good parts. Matt agreed. To keep himself from demotivating himself by over analyzing his drawings, he puts them away as soon as they are done. Don’t’ get in your own way. Emi said not to worry about what other people think. Just draw stuff for yourself. Brandon said don’t feel that you haven’t succeeded by measuring success against anything but happiness.
In regards to t-shirt profits and merchandise, Megan has found that Girl Hero swag has earned her way more than books have. Matt said it wasn’t way more for him, but still more. And he finds that the more cool crap you offer, the more real you appear. Kim said Fantagraphics doesn’t offer merchandise because it is too distracting. They want to focus on the books.
And that was it. Then we were off to the Fantagraphics Bookstore for the after party. I tried really hard and did talk to people. But we only handed out one business card. We suck. It was really fun to stand around for a few hours talking about comics with so many other people who make comics (because that is who I ended up talking to). Now that I think about it, I bet it was all people who were comic makers. Duh. So much fun. The Fantagraphics book store has that wonderful booky smell and has so many great graphic novels.