I recently chatted with someone that also self-published his book (a children’s book). Rather than formatting everything as I am attempting to do, he hired someone to format the book for him. I was astonished at the cost: with all of the formatting and illustrations, the final product cost between $3,000-5,000. Wow.
…But I can’t say my method is really cheaper. Money-wise, if I only include products specific for my self-publishing attempt, maybe $200 to $400 dollars. But if we are counting time…Oh boy. The hours I have spent digitally cleaning the pages, the hours trying to format for publishing, the hours learning how to use programs…Honestly, the self-publishing project might have as many, if not more, hours involved as actually drawing the comic. Maybe I’m exaggerating…But only a little.
Let’s look at what’s taking me so long to get this dang thing in print. 😉
I recently learned that the Japanese highly rely on blood-type horoscopes—your blood type determines your personality. Having tested my blood during my internship, I knew that I am type A+. According to their horoscope, I should be the most organized, neat person you’ll meet.
I have since concluded that this horoscope only applies to Japanese people, and not to Westerners. One look at my desktop, and you would agree with my assessment. I confess that over the entire creation process of the comic (drawing, putting online, self-publishing), I’ve had files on three different computers. It also didn’t help that my middle computer crashed early on, and file recovery was sporadic. Also during this long period, I have used three different image editing programs: Photoshop C4 through the middle of chapter 4, Gimp for a very short stint (I hated it), and finally Affinity Photo for the rest of the comic. A third consideration is I put full-sized files on DeviantArt, but had to use scaled images for comic-hosting sites SmackJeeves and Tapastic.
So when it came to compiling all of my comic page files into one mass, many files were just plain missing. I might have JPG files for certain pages, but not the original PS or Affinity Photo file, so editing was harder. Sometimes I had the scaled image but not the full-sized, so quality differences were present. Finally I had to make the difficult decision to take the physical pages and rescan every one, edit every one digitally, and save it in a folder where I can (maybe) find it again. Some pages I could find a full-sized, editable versions: the final editing took maybe an hour. With pages I had to rescan, piece back together, add words, and finally clean, sometimes they took as long as 5 hours each.
From my old 2008 Macbook I used the Dakota Handwriting font for the vast majority of the speech bubbles in the comic. This is all well and good, as long as the developers continued updating the font.
Which they didn’t. As a result, on the corrected pages I had to use the similar but different Dakota font. The problem with this font is that the spacing isn’t as good, and honestly it’s harder to read. So the comic is now a mix of Dakota Handwriting and Dakota fonts, and because if I changed the dialogue for every single page again…Yeah. Honestly, since I have the Glyphs program for making fonts, and I somehow managed to make a constructed language font, in the future it might just be easier to make my own font: I can make it with just the right spacing, kerning, and I could make it based on my own handwriting—though for reading purposes, I should say “inspired”, because nobody really wants to read my handwriting, trust me.
Now, let’s talk about things that cost money. >:) Some costs are more obvious, as they only relate to the self-publishing. For example, every blog I have read about self-publishing says “buy your own ISBN”. This is the identification number of the book: the barcode on the back of the book is a visual, scannable representation of that ISBN. Every edition of every book has its own ISBN. If you self-publish on some platforms (Amazon, SmashWords, etc), they provide an ISBN for that book for that platform only. So the advice is buy your own ISBNs. The cost? At Bowker Identifier Services, one ISBN costs $125. They also have an offer where you can buy 10 ISBNs for $295.00, so 29.50 per number. I decided to go for the more expensive option, because I wasn’t sure how many ISBNs I would need. I have since learned that not only do each physical edition of a book gets own ISBN, but so does each version of each Ebook (EPUB, PDF, Kindle, etc). I have already dedicated two of my numbers to my comic, and probably more.
Another product I got from Bowker was an application for copyright. While the chances of someone stealing images from my comic are low, I knew that I would be devastated if something happened. The copyright application cost another $80.00 from Bowker.
Lastly, I bought a barcode to go with my ISBN for my hard-copy version—it is sold separately. I also bought a QR code to link to my website. Both of these cost $25 each.
So my identifier costs turned out to be at least $400. This is not including the online file fee for the copyright office, which was another $65.
But wait, there’s more. 😉
I will explain my trials with self-publishing with Amazon for another post: but attempting to format for them and subsequently for Lulu.com, I have paid for monthly subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud (for the PDFs), Microsoft Office, and a one-time fee for Affinity Publisher.
Adobe x 2 months = $31.86
Microsoft Office: =0.00 (did I manage to cancel it before the trial period?)
Affinity Publisher: $34.99
Affinity Photo workbook: $34.99
So if I only limited myself to these costs (not to include my current MacBook Pro…You don’t want to know how much it costs), I have spent $566.84. This does not include the cost of Affinity Photo program, the watercolor supplies for the book cover, the digital tablet and stylus, etc.
And I am yet to get any of it back in profit. 😉 You might be asking: why on earth am I doing this? If self-publishing costs so much money up front, why on earth do it? Honestly, I’m not doing it to get money. Would profits be nice? Absolutely. Am I banking on Concerning Rosamond Grey making me money? No. I don’t think I’ll make much money from comics until I return to being prolific and regular in my comic-making. I’ve only completed on elementary work so far, and it’s not brilliant.
So why am I doing it? Possibly pride. I am still shocked and flattered that people want this comic in hard-copy. What an honor, what a blessing. Of course I want to deliver to the few readers I have. Secondly, I feel like this is validation for me. I need to do this so I can say “I finished a graphic novel—here it is”. I need to see it in a final, polished form as a mark of completion, and to give me pointers when I start the next comic. I need to see it in print so I can start to believe that my efforts in story-telling have value.