Publishing your own graphic novel may be hard work, but some parts are probably easier than you think. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Whatever your motivations are for wanting to write and publish your own graphic novel, you should have a firm and exhaustive grasp of the genre before you begin. Spend as much time as you possibly can studying the work of those who are successful (both critically and commercially), and make copious notes as to what it is about their work that appeals and endures. What scenes did they choose to illustrate and how did it convey what the artist meant to convey? What is their style and what is it based on? Delving deep into what the artist was trying to achieve and how he or she succeed or failed are the are the kinds of things that will help you get a sense of your own craft.
This is the fun part, of course, but also the most work. Things to keep in mind in this stage are to work, work, and work to get your characters fleshed out and nailed down. You should write down complete character sketches (these won’t appear in your book, naturally) so you have a deep and enduring concept about who your characters are, and what each character’s motivation is in any given scene. This helps create consistency and help you and your audience build a bond with your characters.
Team Up If Necessary
If you are a skilled storyteller but your drawing skills leave a little bit to be desired (or you just can’t seem to achieve what it is that you have in your head), consider finding someone or a group of people to team up with. Make sure that these are dependable and creative people who can help you with your vision, and that have some great ideas of their own.
Seek Out Criticism
Before you start publishing large numbers of books yourself, seek out opinions on your work. If you have friends in the business, that is the best place to start. However, you will want to try your work out on a few members of your intended audience as well. When they are through with your book, be prepared to ask them what they liked and what they didn’t and why. Make it clear to them that you are not looking for compliments, but that you want to hear the bad along with the good. If you start to hear the same tings over and over, you will have a pretty good idea what is working and what is not.
Print and Bind
Once you’ve got your book dialed in, you are ready to put it together and pass it around. The printing should be done on a high-quality laser machine, and the cover should use a four color process. As far as the binding, there are several ways you might want to go depending on the length of your book, and what it is you are trying to accomplish. For an old-school comic book look, you can use a simple booklet maker that places two staples in the center of the book (called saddle stitching). If you are going for a hardcover or softcover book, thermal binding machines are inexpensive, easy to use, and create an impressive finished product. Take a look around online or visit your local printer to see what your options might be.