Lessons from Self-Publishing a Comic
It is done: Concerning Rosamond Grey is now available to purchase in paperback. It is done!
It is available for purchase here, also a link in the menu bar. As soon as you purchase it, Lulu.com will print a new copy just for you.
I feel like this character here:
I feel like a huge weight has lifted: now I’m free to draw for fun again. Now I feel free in general. I definitely felt burnt out with this self-publishing project, and I wondered if I would feel burnt out with my creations in general. Thankfully not: I sketched more last week than I have in the past month or two. Back to learning and drawing human/animal anatomy!
Back to the self-publishing, I tried both Amazon’s Createspace/Kindle Direct Publishing and Lulu.com, and I found the latter much better in ease of uploading files, number of printing options, and interior printing quality. The only thing that was strangely similar was the printing quality of the book covers: I picked matte finish on both, and they feel the same, and almost look identical. I think the Lulu one has more oranges, and the Amazon has more greens?
Now to the most important part: the interior printing. This makes or breaks a deal for me: the clearer the comic page, the better. Both Lulu and Amazon had some “dithering”, or fuzziness, but Lulu definitely scored higher points in this regard:
I used a macro lens so you can have a close-up of the print detail. As you can see, Lulu has interesting dithering, but at least the blacks are black, and the whites are white. On the Amazon printing, the blacks fade into a gray before they go to white. Not ideal. In this case, I find the Lulu printing truer to the original comic art.
Now a strange phenomenon happened consistently: the first chapters of the Lulu printing had dithering like seen above, and the latter half…Barely had any dithering at all. It almost looks exactly like the original comic art. Closely inspecting this page from chapter 4, you can see the difference in dithering:
…And I have no idea why this is. :/ Since it happened on a few printings, I have to conclude that it has to do with the original image files. I tried to look back to figure out “what I did”, no luck. It could be the scanner settings when I scanned the image, it could be the original resolution, I’m not sure. Looking at each page file, they are all gray scale (Lulu’s preferred setting), as far as I can tell, they should all print the same.
This leads to the next part of this post, about things I would do differently next time.
1. Document Everything/Be Organized
I admit: I’m disorganized, and I created more work for myself than I should have. As noted in The Cost of Self-Publishing post, I had multiple copies of files in random places, and didn’t follow a conventional naming system at first. I also was not careful about documenting everything: I didn’t pay attention to the printer settings when I scanned something; I didn’t note the color adjustment settings on the image editing program; I wasn’t consistent with final image size. Next time, I’ll create a system where I know how to find things on my computer, and to document settings and resolutions.
2. Say No to Bleeds
This has been the single most bothersome thing to preserve in CRG. By bleed, I mean where the characters or art extends to the cut edge of the page:
Another reason this is was hard to preserve is because I drew the comics in non-standard book dimensions. I used manga comic paper for the art, and I used their measurements. So my comic would fit manga and Japanese printing sizes, but the ratio is off with American book sizes. This means that I have more whitespace outside the panel on the top and bottom versus the sides, or vice-versa. I don’t have an even amount of whitespace all around the panels.
From what I understand, Amazon rejected my last revision because of the bleeds. Lulu allows the bleeds, it just gives you a warning. Still, I had to sacrifice space around the panels to make sure all of the bleeds really did…Bleed.
If you followed more standard comic book, or book ratios, perhaps bleeds would give you less issues. Another option would be to draw the bleed way beyond the suspected page edge, so you literally have buffer space. I will seriously reconsider drawing bleeds in the future.
3. Be comfortable with a publishing programs
I watched a video on Youtube about a comic creator self-publishing that formatted everything on Microsoft Word…I don’t know how he did it. That’s what I tried at first, and let’s be honest, Word is for…Words, not pictures. At the end I used the Serif program Affinity Publisher (sister program to my often-used Affinity Photo), and it made formatting so much easier. It’s relatively easy to learn: I figured most of it out with tutorials on one Saturday.
So, going forward, I will:
1. document everything
2. Avoid bleeds as much as I can
3. Well, I already used Affinity Publisher…
So those are the big things I found with self-publishing. A lot of it I had to learn and problem solve: neither platform offers customer service in regards to formatting. Lulu at least will tell you what settings the file should be in, file size, etc. With Amazon, it is completely guesswork.
Thank you for reading,