Self-publishing in the graphic novel arena is different from self-publishing in the world of prose novels. So is the perception of publishing indie work. I understand the comic book end of this very well. If you want to get noticed in the world of comic books, your best bet is to self-publish. It isn’t a guarantee, and it isn’t the only way, but it is the most advantageous with a higher yield of success. You go out; you make your indie comic, and you shop it around like a resume. The same can be said of aspiring filmmakers. You make indie films to show your skill and talent. Writing a novel, for me at least, takes more time and requires a different skill set. Writing a graphic novel means you have a collaborative partner handling the visual elements of your story. Books need you to do everything on your own in service of the reader.
So far my incredibly limited experience in book self-publishing has shown me a different landscape and many new things to learn. Fortunately, I like learning. The resources and tools that exist now give writers a lot of the components they need to get their book to market in a very short period of time. Unfortunately, some of those resources are also viewed in a negative light. Indie publishing tools in the form of the Amazon sub company CreateSpace leave a bad taste in the mouths of some bookstores, publishers and I’d imagine agents as well. All of that has been documented by other people and can be found on Google in seconds. One of the things that contribute to self-publishers getting a bad rap is that not nearly enough of them use a professional editor. It isn’t just the typos and bad grammar, it is the story, structure, character and so on – all of it. Editors cost money whether you have one or not. So do cover designers, but you wouldn’t publish a book without a cover would you?
You have to pay an editor to read your book, and they may not like the genre, they might not share your passion for the content, but they still have to go through it line by line to make sure all the working parts are in order. They then have to step back and test the machine for lack of a better term. They take your story out on the track and see if it runs smoothly or if it rattled and pings or explodes in a firey ball of death. It might actually work in your favor if the editor isn’t a huge fan of the genre you’ve written because he or she might help you see things in a different light.
I recently wrote a story in a genre that I fundamentally do not read or find particularly interesting. However, because I dislike that genre, I challenged myself to find a way to make it work in a way that did interest me. When you look at something, and all you see are cliches and tropes, it then becomes easier to push the genre in different directions. An editor can help you do that in unexpected ways. They make suggestions and give feedback on your behalf not only because you’re paying them, but also because they want you to succeed.
This past year some authors have reached out to me for help in various ways including crowdfunding, advice and for my opinion. 99% of the time I do not want to read other people’s unpublished work because of the whole “ideaspace” principal. I really don’t want to be at risk of accusations about “lifting” story or character elements even if it happened accidentally. I have thoughtfully read their presentation material, and when I suggested to a specific writer that he or she hire an editor, our communication would abruptly end. I get it, I know some people cannot accept criticism of any kind. That shit doesn’t help you and frankly if you have thin skin, the Internet is the greatest thickening agent available. It is an open 24-hours dojo of pain, humiliation and non-stop trolling. No one is safe. Everyone is a target, so you have to learn to ignore the un-professionals and trust the people that actually work in the trenches.
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